So, after many chapters of details about the Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Testimony, the altar, the courtyard, and the garments of the priests, the Israelites have finally completed their work. Moses carefully examined every item to ensure it met the requirements of God, and they set up the structures.
I can't imagine the trepidation they must have felt as they put things together. I imagine they were very proud of the amazing things they had made (many of the workers weren't craftsmen in Egypt; God gave them the abilities needed to create his masterpiece), yet they were probably uncertain about God's reaction.
Did they do everything correctly? Had they missed one small detail that was vital to God? Would he smite them down with fire for their mistakes?
Whether or not it was perfect, "the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." I can just hear the sigh of relief and awe. This cloud, which became full of fire by night, was their constant reminder that God was with them. When He wanted them to move on to another location, the cloud (or the fire) lifted, and they would set out. The cloud by day and fire by night was "in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels." (Exodus 40:34-38, NIV).
Sometimes I long for such a visible sign to tell me what God wants me to do. I imagine the signs are probably there if I know where to look, but frequently I desire the answer in MY heart, not God's, so I most likely look the other way. Even if we don't see His glory, we can know that God is always with us and will never leave or forsake us. Our faith in Him will help us through the toughest deserts we will ever travel.