Pillars of Fire – The LORD Leads (Exodus 13:17 – 22)

The Israelites are finally leaving Egypt. The Lord repeatedly called Pharaoh to, “let my people go,” but it took His judgment in ten devastating plagues upon the Egyptians to bring Pharaoh to the place where he finally submitted to God and let them go (13:17). In our text, as the Israelites march out of Egypt we see three things revealed to us about the Lord.

First, God leads the Israelites (13:17-18). Though there was a quicker route to get to the Promised Land, God led them in another direction for their own good. God knew that they were not ready to inherit the land, so He led the people “by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea.” Likewise in our lives, often we want to travel the direct route, and while the final destination may indeed be God’s will for us, we often need to learn as we travel a longer route to get there.

Second, God is faithful to Joseph (13:19). Moses took the bones of Joseph with them as they left Egypt. In this one short verse we learn that God is faithful! He kept His promise as Joseph’s remains went with His people to the Promised Land. He was faithful to Joseph and He will be faithful to you if you are His child.

Third, the Lord goes before his people guiding them day and night. (13:21-22). “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to guide them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” What an awesome display of God’s glory as His people saw a visible manifestation of the Lord in this ‘theophany.’ Moses, when first called, saw a similar theophany in a burning bush. The Lord spoke to Moses through the bush. In our text, this theophany led the Israelites for forty years, in a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night! Many of us today would love to be so clearly guided as we walk through this world. While we may not have a literal glory cloud or pillar of fire to follow, we do have a guide – the blessed Holy Spirit who lives within every believer. We also have the completed Word of God in our Bible that gives clear guidance. Praise the Lord, He still guides His people today!

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