When the Israelites fled from Egypt, instead of journeying straight to the Promised Land, they spent forty years, living in tents, wandering about in the desert. We are meant to take those forty years as standing for the lifetimes it takes for us to make our way to our Promised Land.
A surprising feature of their forty years of moving their tents about in the desert was that God had a tent of is own for moving about with them. A cloud, representing God’s glory settled above the tent; and when that cloud lifted, it moved as a pillar of light. Seeing that, the whole people folded their tents and followed the cloud.
Now, we find something similar to that in the Gospel according to John. If you take a copy of John’s Gospel, going over it verse by verse, you will see that it is modeled on the Old Testament’s story of the journey of the people from Egypt to the Promised Land. In it we find Jesus identifying himself with the pillar of light, with the bread from heaven, with rock from which water flowed.
That likeness of John’s Gospel to Exodus is present from John’s first chapter where Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory.” Where we say “made his dwelling,” John in Greek wrote escanosen, which literally means “set up his tent.” And in writing “we saw his glory” John meant that something like a cloud of glory hovered invisibly over Jesus.
In our journey through the desert of life it is such a help to know that Jesus traveled the same route in his tent. He is always there, waiting for our visits.