So can I just be vulnerable for a moment? Can I be open, honest, and tell you something about myself that I’m not very proud to admit? Here goes—the cold hard truth: as much as I love God’s Word, I seriously struggle getting through Leviticus. I know, it should be interesting—the history, the typology, the way it reflects on God’s plan for salvation. And yet, there’s something about my personality that just finds it boring. Every year when my Bible reading plans reaches Leviticus, I cringe. Because I’m hard-core type-A, I feel like I can’t skip it or check the box as “read” unless I’ve actually read it. Still, I have to admit that there are mornings when I have to force myself to do my Bible reading because I know Leviticus is on the schedule. (Thank God the “Chasing Truth” plan for women also includes portions from Psalms, Proverbs, and the New Testament or the struggle would be even greater!) Then, have you noticed that as soon as you get through Leviticus and breathe a sigh of relief, next is Numbers, which starts off with a census? They literally count people and record the results! Again, it’s a tough read, and I start to consider that maybe I could skip over it, and head toward the other passages. That’s where I was the other day when I opened my Bible app and began reading. Much to my delight after all of the people were counted and organized, after they gave offerings to the Tabernacle and set it up, was one of my favorite passages of Scripture.
“On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.” (Numbers 9:15-16, 18-23 NLT)
I love these verses because it shows us exactly how God wants His people to follow Him as He leads us throughout our lives. It shows us that He is not a disinterested spectator, watching us from afar. Rather, He has a plan and a purpose for every one of us. His perfect will is that He leads and we follow, just like the children of Israel followed the cloud and the pillar of fire. When He said “go”; they went. When He said “stay”; they stayed. He determined the direction and seasons of their lives and they followed. In that, they set the example for us. “But ‘Des, we don’t have a cloud or a pillar of fire leading us each day.” No, we have something even better—the Holy Spirit living inside of us directing us and guiding us into God’s perfect will for our lives. His voice should be guiding our lives and giving us direction. He should be telling us to: Go. Stay. Wait. Speak. Give. Be Quiet. Walk this way. His voice inside of us should be warning us of danger and convicting us of sin in our lives. The voice of the Holy Spirit should be involved in every choice and decision that we make. He is our cloud and our pillar of fire directing our lives. “But how do I learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life? It’s not like I can see Him like the Israelites saw the cloud move.” The first way to start recognizing the voice of the Holy Spirit comes from spending time with Jesus.
The more time we spend with God the more time we are familiar with His voice and are able to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us. Another way is by spending time in God’s Word.
As we fill our hearts and our minds with the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is able to bring these words to our remembrance at just the right time and give us guidance. The final way to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit is in faith. Unlike the cloud in the pillar of fire which they could see, when the Holy Spirit speaks to our heart, we have to take a step of faith and believe that it’s really Him. While I believe it’s okay when you’re first learning to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit to ask a mature believer, to check it out with God‘s Word, and maybe even to ask for a fleece, there comes a point when you have to decide “Am I going to take the step of faith and believe God is telling me to go in this direction or not?” It’s as you take those steps of faith and follow God over and over again that you become more familiar with the Holy Spirit‘s voice and learn to recognize it. Each time this happens it makes it easier and easier to follow. Ultimately this is God’s will for all of His children—He leads and we follow. As I’m thinking about it now that is one of the truly beautiful things about the book of Leviticus and Numbers. God is laying out His plans for how he wants his people to live. As Moses hears His voice; he obeys. Hmmm….something to keep in mind next time I read Leviticus….next year. In the meantime, I’ll just work on following the example that Moses and the children of Israel set and follow as God leads.