Numbers 9:15-23 (Part 1) – Like Taylor Meeting the Members of the Backstreet Boys…

Posted: August 16, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 9:15-23 (Part 1)

The Fiery Cloud

My youngest daughter, Taylor, is still, at almost 26 years (her birthday is only six weeks away), a huge Backstreet Boys (BSB) fan. She goes to their concerts whenever they have a tour and they are within reasonable driving distance of her home in Travelers Rest, SC. When she was an early teenager, as a birthday gift, I had to take her to a Backstreet Boys concert in northeast Atlanta once. I can still hear the screeching screams of 12-16 year old girls that made up 70% of the audience that night. Although I love some of their songs, I am not a huge fan of their every song, every move, and everything that they do like my daughter. Nonetheless, it was a great daddy-daughter time that we had that night. After she got to driving age, she no longer needed Dad to take her to BSB concerts. It was blessing in the sense that I no longer had to hear the blood-curdling screams of pre-teen and teenage girls at the beginning of each song the band played. They would go nuts about 2 or 3 notes in when they realized which song the group was playing. It didn’t matter if it was a megahit like “I Want It That Way” or some obscure song deep into the albums that never got released as a single. They would scream. My ears are still ringing. Although that night was a great night for Taylor and me as a daddy-daughter adventure to a BSB concert, it was nothing compared to one of the concerts that she went to with her friends. At that particular concert, she got to go backstage and meet the band and have pictures taken with them. This event was a major event to Taylor. She got to meet the boys in the band. But according to Taylor, she was almost speechless at meeting the boys in the band, the band that she has been in love with since childhood back in the 90’s.

 

And, if you know my dear youngest daughter, being at a loss for words is something that I have personally never seen. My youngest daughter is a spitfire of a girl. She’s opinionated. She’s passionately crazy about the things she cares about. She is that “Ta-Da! Taylor’s here!” kind of person. She will tell you how she feels regardless of whether you want to hear it or not. Everything is super-important and everything means something. Even what I would consider something that you should let roll off your shoulders is not the same to Taylor. Everything is important. It makes for a drama-filled life for her, but I love her nonetheless. We are currently having our struggles in our relationship because we have such polar opposite personalities and approaches to life. However, I do love her still even those she is my little drama queen. So, with that kind of personality, you would know that her BSB obsession is very real and very passionate to her. So, for her to meet the members of the band, all of whom she knows by name and knows each one’s back stories, was like arriving in heaven. She was in awe and was practically speechless. She wasn’t completely dumbfounded but she was so blown away she was like a giddy 12 year old when she went backstage at age 22 or 23, I think it was. She found it hard to talk. She said she had to think about each and every word she said so that she would not sound like she was an idiot. She was wanting to have these deep conversations with them but she was starstruck by these music idols that she has been in love with for years upon years.

 

When I think about how Taylor was when she met the BSB backstage that night, it got me to thinking about how we would be in the presence of God. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to encounter the full glory of God? I think the song by MercyMe entitled, “I Can Only Imagine” is one of the few songs that captures those feelings that we might have. The song goes like this:

 

 

I can only imagine what it will be like

When I walk by your side

I can only imagine what my eyes will see

When your face is before me

I can only imagine

 

Yeah

 

Surrounded by your glory

What will my heart feel?

Will I dance for you, Jesus,

Or in awe of you be still?

Will I stand in your presence

Or to my knees will I fall?

Will I sing hallelujah?

Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

 

I can only imagine when that day comes

And I find myself standing in the sun

I can only imagine when all I will do

Is forever, forever worship you

I can only imagine, yeah

I can only imagine

 

Surrounded by your glory

What will my heart feel?

Will I dance for you, Jesus,

Or in awe of you be still?

Will I stand in your presence

Or to my knees will I fall?

Will I sing hallelujah?

Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine

Yeah

I can only imagine

 

Surrounded by your glory

What will my heart feel?

Will I dance for you, Jesus,

Or in awe of you be still?

Will I stand in your presence

Or to my knees will I fall?

Will I sing hallelujah?

Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine

Yeah

I can only imagine

 

I can only imagine

Yeah

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

 

I can only imagine

When all I will do

Is forever, forever worship you

 

I can only imagine

 

MERCYME lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. “I Can Only Imagine” lyrics provided for educational purposes and personal use only. Copyright © 2000-2016 AZLyrics.com

 

However, for all of us on this side of eternity, we can encounter the full glory of God. We can only see glimpses of it and even then it must be subdued. However, His subdued glory is quite powerful and awe inspiring. The Jewish people call it the shekinah glory of God. According to www.gotquestions.com, it says,

 

“The word shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that literally means “he caused to dwell,” signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the Lord God on this earth. The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There the Lord appeared in a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night: “After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:20–22)”

 

That shekinah glory of God is what I was thinking about as I read today’s passage, Numbers 9:15-23. What a wonderful sight that must have been day in and day out in the wilderness of the Sinai Desert. Let’s read the passage together:

 

15 On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

 

 

God would speak to Moses face to face through the pillar of smoke and fire. But if you remember from Exodus 33:11, even the righteous Moses could not see God straight on. God says that no mortal man can see God whole glory and live. Can you imagine? How awe inspiring and humbling to the point of death that would be! To see God in His full glory. To see the Holy Trinity up close and personal is not something that we can do on this side of eternity. We would be consumed by our own imperfections at the perfect purity of the truth that is God. God’s glory, His essence, is so pure, so righteous, so lacking of imperfections, so full of complete truth, so full of complete knowledge that our minds would be blown and we would be consumed. We would be like those people on the www.jet.com commercials where the tops of their heads blow off and purple smoke comes out of their head.  We, in all of our complete inadequacies before God would consume us. We think we are all that but we would be consumed and implode in our imperfections before the full glory of God on this side of eternity. We would be like a computer that takes on a calculation that makes it spin out of control, sparks fly, and then catches on fire.

 

Therefore, God shows us His amazing glory in subdued ways but even that is so powerful it is given an amazing name, shekinah glory. That is what we are seeing here in the pillar of smoke and fire. We would have been as amazed as the Israelites even with our 21st century smugness of advanced knowledge and technology. Shekinah glory! We would be amazed. So, don’t think of this as just your average pillar of smoke and fire. It was the shekinah glory of God. We would have been amazed!

 

How can we know of the shekinah glory of God in the New Testament era? We have it in the person of Jesus Christ. As the second person of the trinity, according to Got Questions,

 

“Jesus Christ is the dwelling place of God’s glory. Colossians 2:9 tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” causing Jesus to exclaim to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). In Christ, we see the visible manifestation of God Himself in the second person of the Trinity. Although His glory was also veiled, Jesus is nonetheless the presence of God on earth. Just as the divine Presence dwelled in a relatively plain tent called the “tabernacle” before the Temple in Jerusalem was built, so did the Presence dwell in the relatively plain man who was Jesus.”

 

So we have glimpses of the full glory of God but not the full nature of it. We could not handle it. But when we get to heaven and are covered in the cloak of righteousness of Jesus covering our filthy rags, we will know the full glory of God. We will see the full glory of the Holy Trinity. The subdued glory will no longer be needed. We will no longer be consumed because we are in Jesus and have been made perfect. The full glory will no longer burn us up. We are amazed by the glory of God on this side of heaven when we get a glimpse of it, when we see the shekinah glory of God. When we get to heaven our minds will be open to the full and perfect glory of God. That will be amazing.

 

We will be so much like Taylor at a BSB concert. We will be in awe of the glory of God. We will be in awe. We will be still. We will be speechless. We will sing hallelujah forever in His praise. We will be so totally humbled in His presence and we will be so overjoyed to finally see the full glory well beyond any shekinah glory that we may have seen on earth. I can’t wait for that! Can you?

 

 

Amen and Amen.

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