Text: Exodus 40:34-38

The cloud which went before the children of Israel in the wilderness holds many precious lessons that are pertinent to the situation confronting Tabernacle BPC with regards to our search for a place to worship.

Lesson one: All things must be done for God’s glory. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (v.34-35) The tabernacle is meant to be the visible manifestation of God’s glory. It is a reminder to the children of Israel that God must be glorified in the midst of them. As God’s people, they bear the name of the LORD. Thus, they must present a faithful witness to the surrounding nations, that all may know the LORD is the one living and true God.

Similarly, God’s glory ought to be manifest in every local congregation. A church glorifies the Lord when she wholly follows Christ and His Word. She must do what is right in God’s eyes and reject all forms of worldliness, wickedness and compromise. The LORD will not let His name to be polluted, neither will He give His glory unto another (Isa. 48:11). When a church seeks her own way, and fails to give glory to the Lord, the Lord’s glory will be taken from the midst of her. There will be “Ichabod” – “the Lord’s glory has departed”.

Lesson two: God will preserve His people. Temperatures can fluctuate drastically in the Sinai desert. In the summer, temperatures can range from 43°C in the day to 7°C in the night. During winter, temperatures can be as high as 18°C in the day and 0°C at night (reference: http://www.geography-site.co.uk). The pillar of cloud thus serves to shield the children of Israel from the scorching heat in the day, and provide warmth in the chilly night. Imagine a cloud that is big enough to shield 2 million people in the wilderness! What a huge cloud it must have been. This same cloud turns into a huge fiery column at night, and yet its flames did not destroy God’s people. How wonderful is God’s preservation and provision to His people!

Lesson three: God will guide His people. When it was stationary, the children of Israel set up camp and resided in the site. However, once the cloud was lifted, the children of Israel simply followed it till it stopped at a new place. No turning to the left, nor to the right. Just follow the cloud!

Application. The Lord has indicated clearly to us these few weeks that the time has come for us to move. The cloud has lifted. Our duty is to trust in the Lord’s preservation and guidance. He will surely provide a place for us to go. What we need to do is to follow His guiding hand.

However, in the search of the new premises, we must take care not to compromise on God’s Word. This means that we must as far as possible follow the laws of the nation, in honour of the authorities which God has set above us (Rom. 13:1-8). We must also be wise to make sure that the new place will not pose a threat to the spiritual lives of Tabernacle members. Let us wait upon the Lord on this matter. Much compromise, no blessing. No compromise, much blessing.

These are exciting times. We will learn and experience the goodness of the Lord. “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Ps. 37:25) Let us take heart and press on in the work of the Lord.

I am encouraged by the zeal of the Chinese congregation to attend the prayer meeting. A number of the participants are elderly who are frail in their bodies, yet they make an effort to gather with the saints to pray. Many express a burden for the work of Christ in the Church as I talk to them. For the last week, their attendance is just one shy of the English prayer meeting!

In the face of the pressing challenge of the premises, all the more the saints of God must gather to pray. Prayer is an expression of faith by God’s people that the Lord is the One who will provide for their needs. When the Apostle Peter was imprisoned by Herod, the church gathered to pray (Acts 12:12 – “… many were gathered together praying.” We must follow this good example.

The search for the new premises is God’s call for us to the church prayer meeting. Let us not take God’s goodness for granted. Come and pray!

Yours affectionately,
Pastor C. Chew