December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“So 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 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 cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.”—Exodus 13:20–22 (NKJV)
When we think of the Book of Exodus, we’re most likely to associate it with God setting His people free from Egyptian bondage. But as important as that event is, it’s really just the beginning of the story. Being released is one thing, but what happens to them once they leave their prison? Their need doesn’t disappear—it shifts from a need for liberation to a need for navigation.
From the outset, God revealed to Moses that He would lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into a new land of their own (Exodus 3:8). This “promised land” was not just next door, it required a journey to get there, which also involved a spiritual aspect. God would have to do some deep internal work in His people before they were ready to take possession of their inheritance. So much so that while the physical distance could have been covered in a couple of weeks, the Lord extended their journey to forty years in order to refine their faith in Him.
Leaving Egypt was just the beginning of a venture that would cover the next four decades as the Israelites would wander through the wilderness! But it was also at this starting point that God did something truly wonderful for His people. Knowing they would need His guidance going forward, He revealed His glorious presence in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to lead them to where they were to go. But this was much more than a divine GPS that routed them towards a desired destination; it also assured the children of Israel that their heavenly Father was ever-present with them. Day and night, the proof was always there that they weren’t alone or abandoned in their wanderings!
As Christians, we’ve received something similar. God doesn’t manifest Himself via a pillar of cloud or fire for us. He’s actually done something far more fantastic by filling our hearts with His Holy Spirit, who also serves to guide and assure us as we sojourn through this world.
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you . . . the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”—John 14:16–26 (NKJV)
“When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth . . .”—John 16:13 (NKJV)
The Lord doesn’t leave His children without a means of navigation, either then through a pillar representing His presence or now through the indwelling presence of His Spirit. And we would be wise to always follow the route the Spirit reveals to us because wherever His presence leads us will always prove to be the right direction.
Pause: How did God adjust to the changing needs of His people once they were set free from Egypt?
Practice: Consider how your own relationship with God mirrors the experience of the Israelites in the Book of Exodus. As you see the parallels, find passages that outline the Lord’s direction to the people and how you can apply them!
Pray: Lord, I confess my need to cultivate a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Your Spirit who lives inside of me and desires to direct my steps. Make my soul more and more sensitive to His presence and leading in my life. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.