“And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” Exodus 16:10.
A friend, writing to me from China, quoted part of this passage as having brought much comfort and blessing to him in a time of trial and difficulty. On turning to my Bible, I discovered that the context indicated that the appearance of the Lord, on that particular occasion, was rather a matter for fear than for joy, for the people had grievously sinned, and could expect only the just punishment of their offences. But my friend, being not under the law, but under grace, did rightly, I think, in eating the honey out of this dead lion. For him, the cloud-enveloped glory could mean only deliverance, safety, and peace.
But from what an unexpected quarter the glorious vision came! “They looked toward the wilderness.” Not a cheering prospect, surely! Not a likely spot to which one’s eyes would naturally turn for a revelation of the Divine presence! A solitary place, without habitation, or fruitfulness, or beauty; a waste and arid land, where the sun smites by day, and the moon by night; a place where the wild beasts meet, and dragons and owls dwell in safety. Yet such a desert does God choose, in which to reveal Himself; and the watcher sees, amid all this desolation and loneliness, nothing less than “the glory of the Lord.”
It is marvelous how full God’s Words are, of blessed possibilities of unfolding and disclosure. However dark and indistinct a passage may at first sight appear to be, it will glow as with hidden fire when the Spirit of the Lord breathes upon it, and the eyes of faith and desire look closely into its depths. You have, doubtless, known the joy of this insight, dear reader. A text you may have read hundreds of times without noticing anything special about it, suddenly becomes alive, as it were, for you, and speaks to your heart, as the very voice of God Himself!
My correspondent had this delightful experience with the verse we are considering; and do you wonder at it? Cannot you make it your own?
Look into your past life, and see whether you cannot recall many times when you “looked toward” some wilderness of trial, or sorrow, or affliction, which lay directly in your pathway, but without the expectation of seeing “the glory of the Lord” there. Everything else you saw—the darkness, and the discomfort, and the danger—and you feared exceedingly.
Yet, has it not been true that, where and when you most needed Him, your blessed God has come to you; and, before long, your dreary desert has “blossomed as the rose!”
Then, too, with what infinite compassion for our weakness does He manifest Himself! His unveiled glory would strike us with blindness; so He makes it appear “in a cloud.” With tenderest condescension, He deigns to enwrap His splendor in a misty veil of light, that the brightness of His presence may shine through, and yet not dazzle us.
Do not fear to look toward the wilderness, then, if your God has put you there; for here are the “goings forth” of the Lord from of old, and even thus does He give “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” ~ Susannah Spurgeon, A Basket of Summer Fruit