Saturday, September 8, 2012

God leading His people

Numbers 9:16-17 So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp

God Leading His people
In Genesis 15:17 we see first mention of God appearing as a flaming torch walking His way through sacrificial animals prepared by Abraham.  God put Abraham into a deep sleep and predicted that His descendants would be in bondage and slavery for four hundred years.  The flaming torch which Abraham saw was God as the pillar of fire who would indeed lead the people of God across the Red Sea.

No doubt it was this same God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, telling Moses to go to Pharoah and command Pharoah to "Let my people go". (Exodus 3:1-9)  In fact, when the Angel of the Lord (most likely an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ) addresses Moses, He identifies Himself initially as the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob".  This Self-identification by God connects the events that would follow in the Exodus with the dream/vision that Abraham had back in Genesis 15 some four hundred years prior. 

As God later on leads the people out of Egypt, we read these words in Exodus 13:21-22 "The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."

As the people would begin their journeys following the Exodus, God as the pillar of God and fire would continue to lead them onward to their destination.  Despite their unbelief, God was ever faithful.  Numbers 33 records that He lead them through over 40 starts and stops.  Deuteronomy 8:2-4, written to the second generation of Israelites who came after the first generation coming out of Egypt died off, tells us this about the Lord: “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. 4“Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years."

Isaiah 63:11 tells us about God's leading of His people in Moses' day - "Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses.  Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock?  Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them"

As we come almost to the end of Old Testament History, Nehemiah writes these words about God leading His people as the pillar of cloud and fire in Nehemiah 9:19-20 "You, in Your great compassion, Did not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, To guide them on their way, Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go. 20“You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst."

What we learn of God's leading of His people
From this quick survey of God's leading of His people as the pillar of cloud and fire we can gain the following truths about God's leading of His people:

1. God led Abraham as His Sovereign Lord
2. God led His people as their Savior
3. God led His people as their Shield
4. God led His people as their Sustainer
5. God led His people as their Shepherd