IX. THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL—
JOURNEYING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD
When we speak about the children of Israel, it is easy to have a poor impression of them. If we recall how they worshipped the golden calf in the wilderness, we will think of them as pitiful indeed. However, everything in the universe has two sides. For instance, we have both day and night. Furthermore, in every home there is a living room and a place to keep the refuse, the trash. In the Bible we can find both positive and negative things, depending on where we look. For example, Abraham, who was so good, had a concubine and was not as wonderful as we think he was. But we should not look upon the negative things so much as on the positive things. This is especially true as we come to the history of the children of Israel.
For a period of forty years the children of Israel journeyed in the presence of the Lord (Exo. 13:21-22; Num. 14:14). They had the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The Israelites did not journey according to their opinion, but simply followed the movement of the pillar. Actually, there were not two pillars, but just one. In the day the pillar was like a cloud and in the night it was like a fire. During the day God shaded the people, protecting them from the bright sunlight. During the night he gave them light to illuminate their way. This pillar was God Himself. Therefore, during the forty years in the wilderness the children of Israel enjoyed the presence of God. They also ate manna, the heavenly food, day after day, meaning they enjoyed God as the tree of life. Thus, even in the wilderness we see the line of the tree of life. Although we may have a negative concept about the children of Israel in the wilderness, they nevertheless experienced the tree of life, enjoying God day by day.
Would it not be wonderful to experience such a pillar of cloud and pillar of fire and heavenly manna in Orange County today? However, our portion is much better. We have the Holy Spirit as the pillar of cloud and the Bible as the pillar of fire. We also have the Lord Jesus as our heavenly manna. As we journey through the wilderness of Orange County, the Lord is present with us, and we enjoy Him as the tree of life.
X. JOSHUA—LIVING AND WORKING
IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD
When God called Joshua, He encouraged him, assuring him that He would be with him as He was with Moses (Josh. 1:5-9). The Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous, for the Lord would be with him wherever he went. Joshua was a person who enjoyed God. As long as we enjoy God’s presence, we can be a Joshua today. God is not far from us; He is with us all the time. Thus, we, like Joshua, can live, walk, and work in the presence of the Lord.
IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD
Gideon’s outstanding characteristic was that he fought the battle in the presence of God (Judg. 6:12, 16). He not only lived, walked, and worked in the presence of the Lord, but fought with the presence of the Lord. We all must be like this. In one sense our daily walk is a walk, in another sense it is a work, and in still another sense it is a warfare. Whether we walk, work, or fight, we must be in the presence of the Lord. To be in the presence of the Lord simply means to have the enjoyment of the Lord as the tree of life. Gideon enjoyed God as the tree of life.
(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)