As I sat by the fire I began to think about Israel sitting by the campfire (surely they had them) around 2100 B.C. as they wandered in the Wilderness of Sin. What was it like? We know they complained a lot about the sort of provision God had given them. I know I complain a lot about things that aren't the way I'd like them in my life. They didn't like the manna. So God gave them quail. They got tired of that, too. Every few days or weeks (we don't really know), God told them to follow a pillar of cloud (whatever that might have looked like), and even travel at night sometimes, following a pillar of fire. Then they'd camp again. I'll assume they collected wood and started a fire to cook on and to keep them safe at night. Did they ever connect it? Their fire and the fire of God? Sitting by the fire at night, did it ever occur to them that God's fire and their fire were both there for safety?
The fire is bright. The fire is warm. And I feel completely at ease here on the edge of the forest, between my home and the unknown. That's what it must have been like for them. There they sat, year after year, between their home and the unknown. Home for them had been Egypt. That's all these people had ever known. And now God, a God they weren't so sure they trusted and a God who was more and more a foreign God to them, had asked them to trust him. And so they had left their home and gone out into the wilderness. And this God who had asked them to trust him was now making them wait for a whole generation to die before letting them enter the land he had promised to their great, great, great... how many greats grandfather? What were they doing here between their home and the unknown?
Moses had heard the voice of God in a fire in a bush. They were being asked to trust that same God in a fire at night. And as they huddled by their campfires, did they learn to trust the God who is there in little ways... through 40 years of campfires?