June/July 2014 - Vol. 74

Pillar of Fire, print by Jeanne Kun
.The Pillar of Fire
."The Lord went before them by night in a pillar of fire to give them light" 
- Exodus 13:21
.reflection on Exodus 13:21 by Don Schwager 

God called his people out of Egypt on a long journey to an unknown future and to a strange land promised to them. God led his people by the roundabout way of the wilderness to the Red Sea. This route was the way chosen by God, not by Moses or the people. While the alternate route was quite a bit shorter, it was also occupied by the Egyptians. They would have had to fight the Egyptians if they had taken that route. God spared them from battles they were not yet prepared to fight.

The guiding light of God's presence 
The wilderness was vast and desolate, and largely uninhabitable. Without a good guide, they would have easily perished. God manifested his presence among his people in a special way in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. He guided them through the wildnerness by means of this pillar of cloud and fire. His continuous presence enabled them to persevere on their journey to the very end - until they reached the promised land. It was their greatest consolation while they wandered as aliens and sojourners in an uncharted and strange land (Numbers 14:14).

The wilderness was the place of preparation and testing for the people of Israel. When Israel had encamped between the wildeness and the Red Sea, Pharoah sent his special hand-picked forces to bring the Hebrews back to Egypt. This would be their first test in the wilderness, as they waited on God. Had they charted their own course apart from God, they would have perished. 

Before the Lord Jesus began his public ministry, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days of preparation. There he encountered testing and spiritual warfare with his arch-enemy Satan, whom Scriptue calls the father of lies and deceiver. Throughout this time of testing Jesus proved his readiness to obey and to trust his Father.

The Holy Spirit is our Pillar of Fire
The Lord leads us into the wilderness by his Holy Spirit (we are not yet home with the Lord in heaven). We, likewise are aliens on a pilgrim journey to the promised land of the kingdom of heaven. God guides us on our journey through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who is our "pillar of cloud" and "pillar of fire" to guide, protect, and show us the way (John 14:16-17,26; 1 Corinthians 10:1-3). 

Do you recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? And are you ready to cooperate with his transforming work within you? Ask the Father to fill you with his Holy Spirit so you can experience his guiding presence, wisdom, and help more fully. The Holy Spirit never fails those who trust in his guiding hand. The Spirit will bring the healing fire of his purifying love and mercy to burn away all that would try weigh us down or hold us back from doing the Lord's will. The Spirit is ready to train and equip us for a life of fruitful service and mission. Yield to his grace and allow the Spirit to guide and transform you.

"Lord Jesus Christ, may your Holy Spirit bring light, truth, and strength to guide and direct me each day. Help me to be attentive to the wisdom and leading of the Spirit. May your Spirit give me boldness to witness to the truth and joy of the Gospel, and the courage and perseverence to never wander from the course you have set for my life."

Also see > The Exodus Trilogy: A theophany of God's saving presence with his people in the wilderness 
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