H. A. Ironside told the story of pioneers who were making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have an understanding as to what could be done
He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it. As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, “Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?” The leader replied, “My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!”
Whether they realized it or not the Children of Israel were in an enviable position every day. In their midst stood either a pillar of Fire or of smoke depending on the time of day, a visual reminder that the God of the universe was by their side. For us however the situation is far better, he no longer indwells a place of worship but the very lives of those who are his children a fact we must never fail to celebrate.