Whenever the Cloud lifted from The Dwelling, the People of Israel set out on their travels, but if the Cloud did not lift, they wouldn't set out until it did lift. The Cloud of God was over The Dwelling during the day and the fire was in it at night, visible to all the Israelites in all their travels. Exodus 40:36-38 (MSG)
God is a god of metaphor. He expresses Himself in what He makes. He gives us word pictures that speak of deep, spiritual truths through every day objects. Bread and wine are Christ's body and blood. The water of baptism is Jesus, the "Water of Life," who washes our sins away. The cloud and the fire in Exodus are metaphors God's presence. They were a constant reminder to the Israelites that God was with them.
Metaphorical reminders are a good thing. They keep us mindful of important truths.
This past Saturday, as we celebrated my daughter's wedding, I wore a ring on my right hand. It was my grandfather's ring. I don't wear it a lot. I pull it out on special family occasions because it helps me to be mindful and grateful of those generations who have gone before us and made these celebrations possible. There is nothing magical about it. It's just a tangible reminder of loved ones who cleared the path for us.
The Israelites, wandering in the Sinai desert, needed tangible, visible reminder of His presence. I don't think we're any different in our own wanderings. We all need tangible reminders of God's truths as we make our own journeys through this life.