For forty years they wandered in the desert. The cloud would lift when it was time to move and settle where they were to set up camp (Num. 9:16). At the end of those forty years, Moses was commanded (Num. 33:2) to record their “’departures’ according to their journeys” (NET) or “their starting places, stage by stage” (ESV).
This difference in the two translations prompted Bruce to dig a bit further. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes the term translated “departures” or “journeys” means “to pull out tent-pegs” or literally to “break camp.” Isaiah uses the same term to describe a peaceful place (Jerusalem) where “… a tent that stays put; its stakes will never be pulled up…” (Isa 33:20). They had spent forty years pulling up the tent pegs and breaking camp to move on; each time as they were directed by the Lord.
In 2012, our students here prayed Num 9:16 with us as we explained that if the cloud settled it would mean our Father had provided that which was needed to open our business, and if the cloud rose it meant we would have to leave. The cloud settled and we opened a business that allowed us to stay for almost 7 more years. Last Friday we signed the final paperwork to close our business, the cloud has lifted. It is time to pull up the tent pegs and break camp for the next leg of our journey.
Reflecting on his over 65 years of life and almost 45 years of marriage, Bruce realized that he (and we) had “pulled out the tent pegs” many, many times. In the last 30-plus years, we feel these wanderings have been directed by our Father as He did in 2012 with our business startup. Now we are preparing to break camp here and move once again. Our feelings seem to be caught between sadness at leaving our friends yet with eager anticipation for what lies ahead.
Peace comes when we ask our Father for wisdom to divest ourselves of material things in a way that would bless others as He has blessed us, when we receive His strength as we prepare for the next season of life, and with confident discernment on the way to go as we break camp and head out on a new adventure.