33 So they set out from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey. And
the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them three days’
journey, to seek out a resting place for them.
34 And the cloud of the
Lord was over them by day, whenever they set out from the camp.
35 And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Arise, O Lord, and let
your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before
36 And when it rested, he said, “Return, O Lord, to the ten
thousand thousands of Israel.”
As Israel wanders in the desert, it’s another part of the Bible where actual historical events are happening and in a bigger picture it’s a forecast of our life in Christ.
Here are half a million people, wandering towards a destination that they have heard of but not visited. They are led by a god that they are still becoming acquainted with.
Then comes this line
“The ark of the covenant of the Lord when before them three days’ journey, to seek out a resting place for them.” Numbers 10:33
At the last supper, Jesus told the disciples,
“There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too.” John 14:2-3 NET
So Jesus is going ahead of us, to prepare a place for us, just like the ark of the covenant went three day’s journey ahead of the Israelites to seek out a resting place for them! Oh yes, and Jesus was in the grave for how many days? Three. Three days ahead of us to prepare a resting place for us in an unknown land.
And there is one more cool bit. He didn’t leave the Israelites alone and unprotected. The ark didn’t go on without them with nothing left behind to guide them.
There was a pillar of fire in the night and a pillar of smoke and clouds during the day. It says that this was their protection and their guide as they traveled. It is also referred to as the Presence of the Lord.
On the day of Pentecost, God sent His Holy Spirit onto the disciples and it looked like fire. From then on those that believe in Jesus, that have left their life of unbelief (like the Hebrews left Egypt) are filled with the Holy Spirit to guide them and protect them as they go through life!
So here it is, like so many other places in Numbers, where the entire Christian life is laid out. Jesus has gone before us, God the Father oversees us and guides us, and the Holy Spirit is within and among us.