Growing with God” A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Exodus 13:21-22 (NIV)
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Exodus 13:21-22 (MSG)
God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people.
“The [presence of the] Lord was going before them by day in a pillar (column) of cloud to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, so that they could travel by day and by night. He did not withdraw the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from going before the people.” -AMPLIFIED
Scripture tells us that as the people left Succoth, with was in Goshen, their first stop for camp was in Etham. “They journeyed from Succoth [in Goshen] and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness.” Immediately we are told that the Lord went ahead of them; either as a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire. They were on the edge of the wilderness, basically no-man’s-land, and God was placing Himself in front as their guide.
Notice that is exactly what Scripture tells us the purpose of the cloud and fire was to be, a guide. When the pillar of cloud or fire moved, the people moved. When the pillar stopped, they stopped. Many years later we find Nehemiah take note of this truth, “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.” -Nehemiah 9:19 (NIV)
This phenomenon was not just a little bit of symbolism for the Israelites to understand a spiritual point; it was actually a physical pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Something they could see with their eyes, understand with their minds and draw comfort from with their hearts. God was there for them. He would lead and guide them. He would protect them in the days ahead. He would provide for them. Jehovah was going to be present in every moment of their lives and now they had physical evidence of it.
The Israelites were about to embark on the unknown. Remember, they were taking the long road; not the short road. God was going to use this as a time of recuperation and growth for them. In order for the Israelites to know where to go in this unknown wilderness they were to rely on Jehovah to be their leader and guide; as well as provider and protector. This, we will find, was a difficult lesson for them to learn.
Before we point our finger in accusation though; let us think of our own lives. How often have we tried to take the reins out of God’s hands? How often have we ignored His leading in certain directions because it was something that we did not feel comfortable with? In the days ahead we will encounter many incidences where the children of Israel failed to trust God; before we condemn them for their lack of trust let us consider how often we do the same thing.
We all need to be reminded from time to time of who needs to be in charge of our lives. God has promised to be our faithful Guide. The Psalmist of Psalm 48 wrote these words, “For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even until death.” May we echo his sentiment and attitude.
Lord, you are indeed my leader and guide; this is my heart’s desire. There are times though when I try to take the reins of my life back; and for this I am so sorry. You know what is best for me. You know where I need to go and do; in order that your perfect will can be accomplished in my life. Help me to be obedient to your leading. I want to trust you; even when I do not understand where or why. You have never failed me before, Lord. I will trust you; step-by-step, day-by-day; lead me every step of the way.