Scripture: And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead 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. Exodus 13:21 ESV
Observation: The cloud and fire formed a single “pillar” (14:24), whose width at the base sufficiently covered Israel from the intense heat (Psalm 105:39). Most importantly, it provided a visible symbol of Yahweh’s presence in their midst. Indeed, Moses later implies the Israelites understood the pillar to be “the angel of God” (14:19). Moreover, as the Lord subsequently communicates to Moses, his name is “in” this angel who will guide them to the Promised Land. Hence, they must listen to and obey the angel (23:20–23).
Five centuries later, Isaiah prophesied of the Lord’s vengeance and mercy toward rebellious Israel by recalling their ancestors’ afflictions and exodus. He tells of how their Savior anguished with his people’s suffering and that this “angel of his presence” had saved them (Isaiah 63:8–9). And two centuries after Isaiah, Malachi foretold the nation that a messenger would prepare the way for the Lord and his “messenger of the covenant,” who is the temple’s owner (3:1).
Takeaway: Looking through the filter of the New Covenant, we know that the messenger who prepared the way was John the Baptist, and the “messenger of the covenant” (the “angel of God” who presided in the pillar) is Christ Jesus. Thus, the Son of God is the shekinah glory of Yahweh referenced in the Old Testament. And through this pillar of fire and cloud, the Lord would speak to and guide Moses (33:9–11) and his people (Psalm 99:6–7).
So what does this mean for us? The same: Christ, the last temple of God, who came baptizing with fire and returned in a cloud, tabernacles with us. For Yahweh’s name is in his Son’s. Therefore, we, too, must listen and obey the Son. And his Holy Spirit, our pillar of fire in the darkness and cloud-cover in the light, guides and protects us from the intense heat of spiritual warfare that we too might successfully sojourn to our Promised Land.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son (our source) and your Holy Spirit (our means) for pressing onward in our world and upward to our eternal Promised Land. Would you please help us listen to and obey your Messenger that we might be steady of foot in the night and light of foot in the day? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling