Few things are more infuriating to us humans than God's sense of timing.
I know. I know. He is infinite. We are finite. He is eternal. We are rooted in the present.
Peter says it well: "With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day." That is our problem. God's sense of timing is different than ours.
A former pastor used to say, "God is seldom early - but never late." That was certainly the case for Abraham. He has his son tied up. He raises the knife to kill his son. Just before the downward plunge, God tells him to stop. There is a ram to sacrifice caught in a thicket. Talk about "never late!"
Sometimes we get it right. We learn to wait. We learn to completely depend on God for everything - including His timing.
In this passage, the people of God had it down. Listen...
15 -16 "The day The Dwelling was set up, the Cloud covered The Dwelling of the Tent of Testimony. From sunset until daybreak it was over The Dwelling. It looked like fire. It was like that all the time, the Cloud over The Dwelling and at night looking like fire.
17 -23 When the Cloud lifted above the Tent, the People of Israel marched out; and when the Cloud descended the people camped. The People of Israel marched at God's command and they camped at his command. As long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, they camped. Even when the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for many days, they honored God's command and wouldn't march. They stayed in camp, obedient to God's command, as long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, but the moment God issued orders they marched. If the Cloud stayed only from sunset to daybreak and then lifted at daybreak, they marched. Night or day, it made no difference—when the Cloud lifted, they marched. It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when the Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at God's command and they marched at God's command. They lived obediently by God's orders as delivered by Moses." (Numbers 9:15-23)
Instead of giving them kudos for being patient, obedient followers, I am full of recriminations. The cloud shielded them from the blistering sun. The fire warmed them from the freezing desert night. Of course they would wait! And how obvious. No question there what God's will was. Just look up (literally)! Easy to follow when there is a CLOUD telling you what God's will is. What His timing is.
But in this passage they got it right.
"They camped at God's command and they marched at God's command. They lived obediently by God's orders as delivered by Moses."