Last night I was reading Numbers 9. I saw something that I don’t remember seeing before. It caused a cascade of verses to come to mind. It also helped me to recognize several things. I have read this passage many times, yet I always saw it as the same as what I believed. Things are not always as they appear to be. There is a true reality behind an appearance.
First let me ask this question. Did you believe, like me, that there was a pillar of fire by night, and a cloud by day that led the children of Israel? Did you see it as two separate ways that God led them? Numbers 9:15 shattered that belief for me last night. Read it carefully and see what you see. It says, “Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle , the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire.” Did you catch the ‘appearance’ of fire? It was not a pillar of fire, it was the appearance of fire.
Verse 16 says, “So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.” Let’s jump ahead to 1 Corinthians 10:1. It says, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea.” The Lord led them by a cloud. Yet at night, it took on the likeness as fire.
If you want an interesting read, go to Ezekiel 1. Many times Ezekiel used the words ‘appearance of’ to try and describe the vision he saw. It seems he used something similar to him as he groped for words. You might wonder why I am going this way. I just wanted to ‘awaken’ you. As we read our Bible, we need to read it as though we haven’t read it before. The Holy Spirit is ready to illuminate truth so that we can apply it to our present day. How do we make an application to the verses in Numbers 9?
First I want to take us to Philippians 2:7-8. Paul wrote truth with words to capture his reader’s attention. It says of Jesus, “…taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man…” John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The true reality behind His appearance is that He is always God, no matter what form He takes to manifest Himself to His people.
What is the truth behind how you appear? In Colossians 2:20 Paul was challenging his readers to remember that they died with Christ and therefore were not subject to worldly regulations. Verse 23 says, “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom…” James 3:15 says that worldly wisdom, “…does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.”
1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from every form of evil.” The word ‘form’ in the Greek means: visible form, shape, appearance, and outward show. Is the message you speak, the same as your messenger? 1 John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” How did Jesus walk? One way was in humility. I’ve noticed that if there is pride in my heart, my words will reflect that pride and not exemplify Jesus’ character of humility. Let us be genuine in our heart so that our words are genuine. An authentic follower of Jesus has the appearance that they have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).