Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. (Exodus 14:19-20)
I briefly listened in to the Jeremy Vine show recently, as they discussed how the nation is doing in regard to COVID. At the start of the show, guest presenter Vanessa Feltz urged people to only write or call in if they had positive news to share. It was a welcome appeal, but perhaps easier said than done.
How does the path ahead of you look right now? Maybe it’s edged with all things bright and beautiful; or maybe it looks more treacherous, frightening and frankly overwhelming.
The children of Israel were faced with a mighty challenge, one that had ultimately been orchestrated by God himself. He said “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue [you].” (Exodus 14:4). But why? Because, through this formidable trial God would gain glory for himself (Exodus 14:4, 17-18).
Written down as an historical story, it’s hard for us to appreciate what this would have felt like to the Israelites. The had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. Despite ten terrible plagues, Pharaoh had refused to let them go. Now he’s pursuing them into the desert, despite the death of the Egyptian firstborn. Or perhaps because of that final, devastating plague? What awful revenge might Pharaoh have planned?
In v. 13, Moses tells the people,
Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
And now, both the angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud move from leading to protecting. When God calls us to obey, he gives us the security we need. Isn’t that the sense we get from David in Psalm 139:5.
“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”
If the path ahead looks treacherous, frightening and overwhelming, do not be afraid! The Lord will be with you; and so too will the church. Call upon us for prayer and support, and fellowship with us as often as you can.
The Lord is near, and he will glorify his great name. Stand firm, and you will see his mighty hand at work. We may not get what we think we want. But God seeks his perfect will in our lives, bringing glory to his name.