September 9, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
As the Israelites left Egypt and slavery behind in the Exodus, we learn an interesting detail about their journey – concerning the presence of God:
…they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the
edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in
a pillar of a cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to
give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away
the pillar of the cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from be-
fore the people.
Let’s look at the characteristics of this pillar of cloud…and…pillar of fire, and relate what we learn to our Christian experience today.
• Exodus 13:21 – God’s pillar presence was “…to lead the way…[going] before them…” (the Israelites) in their journeys.
✞ In John 14:2 through 6, there is an interaction between Jesus and His disciples:
“I go to prepare a place for you….And where I am going you know,
and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not
know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus
said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to
the Father except through Me.”
Since the above is true, all we have to do is obey Him when He tells us in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me….”
✞ Numbers 9:17, 18 – “Whenever the cloud was taken up from above
the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and
in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel
would pitch their tents.”
The leading of God was very specific. He not only told them when to move, but where! As Moses reminded the people in Deuteronomy 8:2, “…the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness….” This led me to think of the way the Holy Spirit led Paul as he traveled through Asia Minor on his second missionary journey (see Acts 16:6-10). It is as written in Isaiah 30:21: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”
• Exodus 13:21 – “…the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud…and by night in a pillar of fire…,” a constant and very visible reminder of the presence of their Redeemer God!
✞ The pillar of cloud guided the Israelites by day. This was as it says in Psalm 121:5, “…thy shade upon thy right hand.” The Psalm speaks of God as our keeper and protector. So the shade is relief and rest from the heat of trial, and protection from evil!
✞ The pillar of fire was a phenomenon manifested at night, guiding the Israelites and also giving them light for any activities after dark!
This double-duty of the pillar greatly served Israel in Exodus 14:19 and 20 as the Egyptian army pursued them:
And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and
went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them, and
stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and
the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it
gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the
other all that night.
• Exodus 14:20 – “…a cloud and darkness to the one, and…light by night to the other…” – two very different results from the same presence! Jesus proclaimed in John 8:12 and 9:5, “I am the light of the world.” But John 3:19 through 21 reveals the same two results – two entirely different reactions by people who are confronted with that light of Jesus:
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and
men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For
everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest
his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light,
that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
✞ The one who practices evil stays in darkness and shuns the light – even hating it! – because it will expose the evil deeds he does! Such a one will stumble through life (see Jeremiah 13:16; I John 11:10; 12:35; I John 2:11), right into hell at the end! (See Revelation 21:8).
✞ But the repentant one, having accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, and walking in the light of His Lordship (see I John 1:7), will continually come to the light so that his or her “…deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God….” Such deeds are a testimony to God’s marvelous grace!
• Finally, the pillar of cloud and fire remind us of our Lord’s continual presence! As He said in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:20, “I will never leave you nor forsake you….I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”