In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
Sometimes, the cloud only stayed overnight and moved on. Other times it remained for months. Amazingly, God’s people only moved when God moved. They did not follow most of the things God told them to follow. While Moses was on the mountain with God, the people made an idol when God told them not to make idols. They worked on the Sabbath when God told them not to work. They collected more manna than they could eat when God told them not to and it spoiled. God told them no manna would come on the Sabbath and to collect extra the day before the Sabbath. They went out to look anyways and found none.
I believe that that people followed the cloud and the fire completely for forty years. We do not read that any stayed back when the cloud lifted. Nobody went out when the cloud remained. This one area they fully obeyed.
Sometimes, I want God to lead me in an obvious manner. Every follower of Jesus who is baptized in the Holy Spirit should be led by the Spirit. Sometimes, I just am not hearing or sensing the leading by the Holy Spirit and I want a cloud or pillar of fire.
Cloud sourcing and fire sourcing must be from the Holy Spirit. The Lord has told us that the Holy Spirit will guide those who are willing to follow.