The people of Israel were never without a visual reminder of the presence of God in their midst. Numbers 9 tells us that God was with them as a cloud covering the tabernacle by day and as fire by by night. This was true throughout their time in the wilderness, yet they complained and complained and complained.
This reminds me of how often we think that we would have it much easier if we could see God. Wouldn’t it be easier to follow Him if He was always with us in some form or another? Didn’t the Disciples have it easy with Jesus right there beside them?
The story of the Exodus, and many other stories tell us that they had it no easier. God was speaking directly to people, doing many miraculous signs, and showing up in burning bushes and clouds of fire, still the people rebelled against God and did what was right in their eyes.
Jesus said that having the Holy Spirit in us is better than having Him with us in bodily form (John 16:7). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the best way that God has come to His people, better than bushes and talking donkeys. God is with us every day, all the time. Let us follow Him with joy, faith, and confidence.