November 15, 2014
READ: Exodus 13:17-22
You led our ancestors by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night so that they could find their way (Nehemiah 9:12).
Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology has changed the way we get from one place to another. All I need to do is type in an address and my GPS or Sat Nav device guides me to my destination.
As He brought the Israelites to the Promised Land, God deliberately made them take “a roundabout way through the wilderness” (Exodus 13:18). In a world without Sat Nav, how did he bring them through the desert? “[God] guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire” (v.21). But these pillars of cloud and fire were much more than guidance aided by a satellite.
The cloud and fire were the visible evidence of God’s presence (vv.21-22), a tangible testimony to the Jews—and to the world—that God was physically present with His people (Numbers 14:14).
The pillars were also the assuring demonstration of God’s protection (Exodus 14:19-25)—an overt warning to the hostile nations that God Himself would fight for and deliver His people from harm and danger. God protected the helpless, fleeing Israelites from the mighty, pursuing Egyptians (vv.19-20,24). Although God’s people were exposed to extreme heat in the day and freezing temperatures at night, the cloud provided shade for them from the scorching sun and the fire gave them light and warmth at night.
The cloud and fire were revelations of God’s plan—the unmistakable means by which God directed them when to move and where to go. With few or no landmarks, the people would have wandered aimlessly in the wilderness. But God provided clarity of direction and certainty of destination (Numbers 9:15-23; Nehemiah 9:12,19-20).
The cloud and fire was their—and is our—Immanuel (“God with us”). —K.T. Sim
365-day plan› Acts 26:1-32
Read Psalm 119:97-106 to see another means by which God guides His people.
What ‘pillars of cloud and fire’ will help you follow God and His plan? How can ‘wilderness’ times in life prepare us to serve God even better?