From: Earth Psalms
The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud,
and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night.
And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.
While in Spain on a bus tour with Rick’s sister and brother-in-law, we saw umbrella pines lining some major thoroughfares and highways. These roads were first constructed by the efficient Roman Empire, which built almost 250,000 miles of roads throughout areas that are now Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa. Hence the old saying that all roads lead to Rome – literally true at one point in history! Apparently the pines were planted because Roman soldiers preferred patrolling their conquered territories in the shade. I’m thankful they introduced these lovely trees that offer cooler temperatures in the heat of the day.
The umbrella trees reminded me of how the Lord appeared as a cloud and led his people as they traveled through the wilderness. Psalm 105 says he “spread a cloud above them as a covering,” (v. 39). He knew they couldn’t stand the heat – and I mean that in more ways than one. Sometimes seeing is believing, and seeing the Lord in the form of a cloud was a constant reminder, “I am with you. Follow me.” When the cloud rose, the Israelites broke camp and followed. When the cloud settled, they pitched their tents and rested. At nighttime, a pillar of fire lit the sky.
God’s presence in the cloud played an enormous role when the Israelites were escaping from Egypt. The Israelites seemed trapped up against the Red Sea. But the cloud moved behind them, creating a barrier between them and the Egyptian army that turned to fire as night fell and was only lifted when the people had safely crossed on dry ground (see Exodus 14). God’s protection was so real, so tangible, that people could almost reach out and touch it.
The Lord is our protection against the heat of living in a fallen world. He is the light when darkness comes. He is the one who knows the path through the wilderness to the Promised Land of Heaven. Follow him!
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through;
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,
Be thou still my strength and shield,
Be thou still my strength and shield.
(Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
How did the pillars of cloud and fire give the Israelites confidence as they headed into the wilderness? How can we have confidence in God’s leading today when we lack such visible evidence of his presence?
Identify one or two areas where you most need God’s guidance and protection. This week, pray for his help and remember that he is leading you.
CONNECT WITH GOD
Lord God, you led the Israelites in a mighty way. I can’t imagine the awe they must have felt when they saw the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire going ahead of them through the Red Sea and the wilderness. Help me to remember that you are leading me too. Even though I don’t see you, you are still my protection, my light, and my guide.