When the LORD God liberated his people from Egypt, he led them with the spectacular Pillar of Cloud and Pillar of Fire.
The LORD God led his people by a visible sign. During the day, it was a Pillar of Cloud. At night, it was a Pillar of Fire.
These visible means of guiding them were spectacular!
In those days may have been two million Israelites. The sign would need to be visible to them all. And convincing to them all.
The nighttime pillar of fire was likely an awesome, terrifying thing. Perhaps it was hundreds of feet in diameter, stretching from the ground all the way into the outer atmosphere or into deep space.
Its luminescence to the human eye was probably near the human threshold of pain, for miles in every direction.
Similarly, the daytime pillar of cloud was probably not subtle. We image it was not unlike a tornado, hungry and darting about, so obvious as to be quite convincing even to the extreme skeptic.
It had to be so big. Otherwise, how could two million Israelites have seen it? And be convinced?
Given the configuration of their desert encampment, we estimate some people would have been two or three miles away. For them to see it, it had to have been enormous. It would have needed to be at least as big as a tornado.
Exodus 13:21. The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night:
Exodus 13:22. the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, didn’t depart from before the people.
Exodus 40:38. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
Numbers 9:15. On the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the Tent of the Testimony. At evening it was over the tabernacle, as it were the appearance of fire, until morning.
Numbers 14:14. They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you LORD are among this people; for you LORD are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them, and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night.
Numbers 16:42. When the congregation was assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they looked toward the Tent of Meeting. Behold, the cloud covered it, and the LORD’s glory appeared.
Deuteronomy 1:33. who went before you on the way, to seek out a place for you to pitch your tents in: in fire by night, to show you by what way you should go, and in the cloud by day.
Deuteronomy 31:15. The LORD appeared in the Tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood over the Tent’s door.
Psalm 105:39. He spread a cloud for a covering, fire to give light in the night.
The Cloud of Glory. We want to see God. But we are unable to apprehend the LORD God in all his glory. So at the great moments of biblical history, he appears in the hidden form of a Cloud.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.