The patience of the Lord is an incredible thing to see in scripture, but an easy thing to overlook in actual life. One of the things that causes one to forget about the patience of the Lord is one's disregard for one's faults and the extent of them, while in scripture, the faults of God's people are clearly exposed so that God's patience is more easily recognized. Thus, to really appreciate the Lord and His patience, one must recognize the reality of one's flawed condition and realize the ways that God is working with those flaws. This is not to suggest that one should go hunting in one's life for every mistake to facilitate condemnation. Instead, one should be humble to recognize one's flaws and sins and notice how God is dealing with those things in one's life.
In Exodus 16:9-12 the Bible explains God's response to the complaints of the children of Israel. Moses had sternly communicated to the children of Israel that their complaints, while they were directed at Moses and Aaron, were reflective of hearts that were discontent and rebellious against God. The complaints of Israel were reflective of prideful hearts against God, self-righteous hearts against God, and hearts that were unfaithful to God. The scriptures explain that the children of Israel were in a miserable spiritual condition, and while they figured Moses and Aaron to be the cause of their issues, their issues were exposed as sinful.
The response of God towards the complaints of Israel is amazing. The complaining from Israel in this portion of scripture originated over the issue of food. The people were weary and discontent about the ways that God was providing. The people did not like how God was providing, they did not like the timing of God's provision, and the people were not satisfied with the type of God's provision. The people were really ungrateful towards God. However, the scriptures do not show that God responded in wrath. Though God, who is holy, righteous, and perfectly just, had the right to judge the children of Israel for their complaints, He was patient with them. Though God had the right to destroy the people since they all complained against Him, even after all of the miracles He had performed to deliver them from bondage, the scriptures do not testify that God exercised that right.
Exodus 16:9-12 explains that God provided food. While the children of Israel deserved punishment, God delivered nourishment. While the children of Israel deserved judgment of some kind, the scriptures explained that the Lord gave them what they wanted and needed instead. Though the food that God provided was provided in a special way that required obedience to test the hearts of His people, the Lord was patient with the people and merciful in His provision. Sometimes there is a description that people give to God concerning His conduct in the Old Testament that is reflective of God being a harsh and vengeful God. The testimony of Exodus 16:9-12 does not support those claims. The testimony of Exodus 16:9-12 explains that God is patient with His children. Though God is just to punish those who disobey Him, the scriptures explain that God withholds punishment often in order to work with the people He refers to as "stiff-necked" and compared to sheep.
The testimony of Exodus 16:9-12 shows that God knows what He's working with. He knew the children of Israel - specifically the generation described in Exodus - before the foundations of the world. He knew their hearts and knew their intents. God knew that the children of Israel would complain as they did even before He delivered them from the bondage of Egypt. The scriptures don't show that God's understanding of the people had any negative effect on God's willingness to fulfill His promises according to His faithfulness, so that the natural response of God when He has to deal with the difficulties of the people is patience.
The English dictionary defines patience as: the ability to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people. The dictionary also references that patience resembles the ability to endure pains and trials without complaint. Thus, while the children of Israel complained about God, He did not complain back at them. Instead, God endured their mistreatment and unfaithfulness by responding in kindness and faithfulness. This is who the Lord is! Once again, this is not to say that God does not discipline sin. The scriptures do show that while God is patient, His patience has its limits so that God will judge sin when it reaches its measure. The testimony of Exodus 16:9-12 explains that God's threshold of patience is really high, showing that God allows A LOT of misconduct before He responds in the ways that He's entitled to as God.
Knowing this, one should examine the conduct of one's own life to see where God has shown great patience. It is a humbling exercise to consider the ways that one has offended the Lord and understand that one is still alive, bearing the opportunity to repent and receive forgiveness. It is a humbling exercise to consider the mistakes that one has made and then compare those mistakes to the consequences that were actually experienced, knowing that things could have been much worse - and maybe should have been. All of these types of things are reflective of God's patience with His people - even those who don't want to be considered His people and reject Him. The breath that each person takes as a sinner is reflective of the patience of God as He remains calm and does not immediately respond in the wrath that He is entitled to respond in as God. This truth is a great reason to show thanksgiving to the Lord, and a great way to see that there is no other like the Lord God who is Yahweh!
Complaining is a dangerous human trait. Everyone does it. Complaining is reflective of discontentment, and depending on what one complains about most, one's discontentment can be a sign of severe spiritual issues. The Bible provides God's candid opinions about the complaints of His people. The Bible is clear to show that God is not pleased with complaining, no matter what type of complaining it is. However, the Bible is clear to show that there are certain types of complaining that reflect a heart that is bitter against God, discontent with God, so that one's complaints are actually directed towards God. Everyone is guilty of these types of complaints, which is why it is important for Christians to acknowledge this truth and be focused on one's tendencies to complain in an effort to move towards repentance.
The testimony of Exodus 16:4-8 reveals that the children of Israel grew bitter about their circumstances because of fear and unbelief. As they wandered through the wilderness for nearly three months, they began to get concerned about how they were going to eat and where they would find food. Though God had proven Himself faithful to meet their needs, the people quickly forgot about the miraculous manner of God's provision and were instead focused on their circumstances. Their distrust in the Lord caused them to reflect poor attitudes that were directed at Moses and Aaron. Exodus 16:4-8 explains that all of the camp of Israel went to Moses and Aaron to complain about the food situation. Though the Lord was providing for the children of Israel to meet their needs, the Lord's provision was not meeting their selfish expectation. Thus, the people complained.
Exodus 16:4-8 testifies that God communicated to Moses how He would address the complaints of the people. Moses informed the people that God would indeed provide food, and would do so in a manner that would be definitively Him. The Lord promised that it would rain bread from heaven. The Lord said that He would ensure that all of the needs of the people were met, but that He would also test the people through His provision. While the Lord did promise to provide, the children of Israel would have to follow a specific set of instructions to receive the provision that God freely gave. If the children of Israel considered the commandments of God and obeyed them, they would freely receive the food that God was going to give. If the children of Israel did not consider and obey the commands of God, they would not receive the food from God. Thus, the Lord shows that He is willing to meet the needs of His people, but the obedience of the people will ultimately show if the people want what God gives and if they are satisfied with it.
Unfortunately, the scriptures explain that the Israelites were often dissatisfied with the provision that God gave. Exodus 16:4-8 explains that the discontentment and complaining that the people had already demonstrated was a reflection of their attitude against God. Moses assured the people that they would see the glory of the Lord through His provision, but that they would need to stop complaining because God heard every bit of it. Moses was helpful to explain to the children of Israel that while the complaints were communicated to Moses and Aaron, the complaints were actually directed towards God. Moses explained to the people that he and Aaron were simply God's tools that were being used to lead the people, but that God was in charge of the whole situation. God was the Leader. God was the Provider. God was the Deliverer. The Lord was simply leading, providing, and delivering through Moses and Aaron, but the Lord was responsible for all the work that had been done. Thus, when the children complained about going through the Red Sea, they complained about God leading them there. When the people complained about the absence of water, the people complained about God's timing to bring water. When the people complained about the food situation, the people actually complained about the quality of God's provision.
The reality of the complaining of the children of Israel showed that the people felt God was unfaithful to fulfill His promises, which caused them to complain about the work God was doing to do so. The people didn't trust the Lord because they didn't know the Lord. Such was why God would gradually reveal His glory to them throughout the course of their journey. The people lost sight of the fact that God was in charge, and not Moses and Aaron. Nevertheless, the scriptures are clear to show that those who complain about the leadership that God uses to do His work are those who complain about the work that God does. The complaints of the people reflected a high sense of pride. Scripture later reveals that many within the camp felt they could do a better job than Moses and Aaron although God specifically chose Moses and Aaron. The complaints of the people reflected a high level of self-righteousness since the people felt entitled to greater forms of provision than the provision God was giving. The people desired more water, more food, specific types of food, and an abundance of it, as if they were entitled to such things. The scriptures state that God's grace should be sufficient for God's people.
There is a difficult reality that Exodus 16:4-8 presents. If all are guilty of complaining, all are guilty of pride and self-righteousness. Most people have complained about the leaders and head figures that God has put in a variety of different positions as if one's own ability and experience is better qualified. One must recall that Moses and Aaron were not chosen by God based on the merits of their qualifications. Thus, qualifications and experience have nothing to do with the positions that God places people in. God puts people in certain positions for reasons that He feels are good for His will, and as the Living God, He is not obligated to explain those reasons to His people to justify His decisions. Thus, the complaints about God's choices in leadership and the manner in which He uses those people to lead, either at home, at work, in church, or in government, reflect discontentment with God's work. The Bible teaches that this discontent reflects pride, as if one can do God's job better by thinking that one can do the work of those that God choose better. The Bible teaches that discontentment reflects self-righteousness as if one is entitled to greater circumstances, though the Bible states that all sinners are deserving of the wrath of God.
Thankfully, the Bible reveals that God is patient to deal with His people. Though the children of Israel were in great risk complaining directly against the work of God, the Lord promised to provide anyway. Nevertheless, the provision of the Lord would test the hearts of the people so that as time progressed, the true nature of the people concerning their love for God, would be revealed. God will continue to show people favor, though in ways that demand faith, submission in humility, and obedience. Those who demonstrate trust in the Lord by practicing contentment in regards to His will through acts of obedience to His commands, are those who love the Lord and will continue to receive His provision on the way to the Promised Land. The Bible explains that those who don't trust the Lord will complain and fester increasing frustration, which will result in a hardened heart of pride so that one becomes continually disobedience. The Bible explains that these people do not enter into the Promised Land. Complaining is a big deal. it is a part of life that reveals the ugliness of the human heart. The people of God should be aware of this truth so as to focus on repentance in this area in order to better reflect one's genuine trust in God and appreciation for Him.
Time is a difficult beast for people to wrestle with. Time can work in your favor and time can be a hindrance just the same. The Bible teaches that time is tool that God uses to prove His Word to be true, to prove His work to be real, and to prove His sovereignty as God. At the same time, God's use of time can be a challenge that has powerful consequences in one's life. The Bible shows that, more often than not, time does not naturally work in favor of God's people. The Bible shows that as time elapses, walking with the Lord gets harder and temptations grow more intense. Therefore, it is important for believers to examine these challenges in the scriptures in order to properly address them in ways that will ultimately glorify the Lord and not compromise one's walk with Him.
In Exodus 16:1-3 the Bible provides a very important detail regarding the wilderness journey of the Israelites. The testimony begins by stating that the children of Israel had been journeying through the wilderness for two and a half months. This is equivalent to about 75 days. In one sense, that's not very much time. However, when one considers that millions of Israelites have been following a cloud and pillar of fire through unpopulated territory for 75 days, this short time period could seem like years! Exodus 16:1-3 explains that the children of Israel began to worry and complain because of their food situation. Scripture already showed that there were issues with water. These are the types of things that need to be dealt with when going through wilderness. There is no readily available supply of clean water for drinking or washing. There is no readily available supply of food. When in the wilderness, it is possible to go a few days without seeing the availability of food or water. The children of Israel were really in a position where they had to rely on the Lord and trust that He would provide for their needs. The children of Israel would have been unable to see where their provision was coming from on a daily basis, and so would have to endure intense measures of faith in order to please the Lord through their journey.
The Bible explains that the children of Israel really struggled with their circumstances. Though God intentionally took the children of Israel through the wilderness, and intentionally provided in the manner that He did, the children of Israel were unsatisfied and complained. Exodus 16:1-3 explains that when the children of Israel realized that their food supply was depleting, they complained to Moses. The scriptures are specific to state the "the whole congregation" complained to Moses and Aaron, showing that the entire Israelite camp struggled to trust in God to provide. Though He had already miraculously transformed water to meet their needs and parted the Red Sea to provide salvation, the people complained about God's manner of working. The Bible testifies that the children of Israel began to long to go back to Egypt - again. The Bible explains that the Israelites made statements like, "Oh that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!" One must recall that the children of Israel cried out to the Lord for 400 years while in bondage in Egypt. Their circumstances were not at all the way that they were described in Exodus 16:1-3. The children of Israel were delusional in their complaints against God.
The testimony of Exodus 16:1-3 also identifies that the children of Israel were confused in their complaints. The scriptures show that while the children of Israel complained to Moses and Aaron, they blamed Moses and Aaron for being in the position that they were in. The children of Israel spoke as if Moses and Aaron were responsible for the deliverance from the Egyptians. The scriptures are clear to show that, while God did use Moses and Aaron to a certain degree as His tools, God was ultimately responsible for removing the Israelites from the Egyptians. God was the One responsible for the position and circumstances that the Israelites were in. While the children of Israel were complaining against and blaming Moses and Aaron, they were doing so against the work that God was doing. Hence, the children of Israel were complaining against God and expressed dissatisfaction with His work.
Recall that the scriptures first testified of the time that had elapsed since the Israelites left Egypt. The Bible says that two and half months had elapsed. While this is not a long time in the grand context of life, it can seem like a lot longer based on the circumstances that the Israelites had to endure - the circumstances that God was facilitating. Thus the Bible shows that God prolonged the journey of His people and allowed difficult circumstances to elapse over longer periods of time. As time went on, the journey became more difficult. It is clear to see that as time progressed, and circumstances didn't immediately meet the expectations of the people, the people began to have different attitudes towards God. While they were previously rejoicing and singing songs of praise for the work that God did against Egypt, Exodus 16:-3 is clear to show the complaints and poor attitude of unbelief of the Israelites. The time that elapsed challenged the faith of the people, and God allowed this reality to take place.
The Bible explains that the longer people have to trust in the Lord, the harder it can get sometimes. The Bible explains that, since God kept the children of Israel in an intense state of dependency on Him, the journey with the Lord became grueling so that the people became dissatisfied with the ways that God was working. This caused the people to be unreasonable in their expectations, which caused the people to forget the reality of their past, which caused the people to dismiss the fact that God was in charge of all these things. Later in the Book of Hebrews, the scriptures will define this attitude as "unbelief." Recall that God said He would test the children of Israel in Exodus chapter 15. This test was predicated on time. God would keep the children of Israel in circumstances that forced them to rely on God for daily provision, and the more days elapsed, the harder this became.
The Lord tests faith the same way. Scripture shows that its easy for a person to rejoice immediately after a miraculous work of God. The scriptures also show that true faith requires endurance. True faith is long lasting an patient. The Bible shows that God desires dependency on Him in order to enter into the Promised Land of His kingdom. Therefore, the Lord will often keep His people in difficult circumstances to test the faith of His people; to see if His people will continue to trust Him, even after 75 days have elapsed. The Bible explains that time is a tool that God uses to separate true believers from non-believers. Knowing this, it is important for believers to be focused on the human tendency to complain over the course of time. Such complaining can turn into greater forms of sin that can have disastrous effects to one's walk. Therefore, having an understanding and a focus on this human tendency can help one to fight against such a tendency in order that one will remain dependent on the Lord through trying times in a manner that glorifies Him, proving one's faith to be genuine and Spirit-filled!
The Bible teaches that faith demands an object. It is true that Christians are saved by grace through faith, but one’s faith must be directed at the proper object. There are many who teach that faith should be directed at self. Many people believe that if one wants to be healed, one can just believe generally in healing, and the healing that one desires will take place. This is untrue. Many people believe that if one wants an improvement in circumstances, one simply has to generally trust in one’s circumstances to change, and the desires of one’s heart will come true. This is also untrue. The Bible does not support any of these types of teachings or beliefs. Instead, the Bible teaches that if one wants one’s circumstances to change, one must first confess to the Living God one’s own inadequacy to change such circumstances, and trust in the Lord to change circumstances according to His will. The Bible also teaches that God tests the faith of His people. God will allow, or create circumstances that test whether or not one is putting trust in Him or if one is trusting in one’s own resources. Thus, the Bible explains that God expects one’s verbal proclamations of “faith” to be backed up by the decisions one makes to demonstrate trust and dependency on the Lord.
In Exodus 15:22-27 the Bible explains that as the children of Israel marched on from the Red Sea, they came upon an area of wilderness that didn’t appear to have water. The scriptures explain that the Israelites went three days into the wilderness and were unable to find water. The circumstances appeared to be dangerous and life threatening. The Bible explains that as the children of Israel kept on in their journey, they came upon a place they named Marah because, though they found water, it was “bitter” water. The scriptures use the English word “bitter” to describe the quality of the water. One must understand that the word “bitter” is not a description of the taste of the water, but instead a description of the condition of the water. The water was polluted. The water was not good for drinking. In other words, the water was useless to the children of Israel whom had gone a few days without having any water.
Exodus 15:22-27 explains that the children of Israel grew frustrated with the circumstances and began to complain. They went three days finding no water, and then when they found water, they couldn’t drink the water because it was contaminated and impure. The response of the people was not favorable in the eyes of the Lord. Though the children of Israel had just witnessed God part the Red Sea to deliver them from the Egyptians, the children of Israel complained instead of trusted in the Lord. The Bible explains that when the Egyptians pursued the Israelites into the Red Sea, the Israelites complained to Moses then and accused Moses of leading them out of Egypt just to die in wilderness. God disproved those awful accusations and through a miraculous act of grace, saved the Israelites. The Bible then shows that just a few days later, the children of Israel began to examine the circumstances and loose trust in the Lord and His will. Seeing the absence of water, they figured God unable or unwilling to meet their needs, even though God proved the extent of His faithfulness to fulfill His promise to take His people into the Land.
When Moses heard the people complain, he went to the Lord to ask what to do. This is what the children of Israel should have done to begin with. Moses showed that he knew where provision would come from. Moses demonstrated that he was relying on the Lord to lead the people since he always inquired of the Lord when the people went to him complaining. God responded. God showed Moses a tree, told him to take a piece of that tree, and cast it into the water in order to make the water pure and drinkable. One must consider the faith that is required on Moses’ behalf. The command that God gave does not make rational sense. One cannot rationally conclude that upon putting wood into water that it will kill any dangerous bacteria and contamination in the water that is preventing the water from being drinkable. In fact, one could likely make the argument that adding wood to the water might make the water more polluted. Therefore, if Moses was going to obey the command of God, he would have to trust that God would change the condition of the water, not the wood of the tree. Moses had to trust that if the tree was going to have any affect on the water, it was only because God would cause that. In this way, the obedience of Moses to put the tree in the water was not a reflection of any power that he had or the tree, but that he trusted God to do the necessary work to provide water.
Exodus 15:22-27 explains that Moses did obey, which means that Moses trusted in God and not the tree. The object of Moses’ faith was the Lord; the same Lord that judged Egypt through the plagues, delivered Israel by the Passover, and liberated Israel by the Red Sea. Though the Bible does not explain whether or not Moses understood the purpose of God’s command, the scriptures do show that he obeyed and thus the waters were “healed.” The Bible provides an important Messianic picture in this testimony. The Bible shows that God was able to transform the condition of the water. God used the tree to change the condition of the water from impure and unusable to pure and usable. This is a picture of the work that Jesus did on the cross. In the same way, God used “a tree” through the crucifixion (Galatians 3:13) to change the condition of those who have properly focused faith from impure to pure, unrighteous to righteous.
The scriptures then explain that God desired to test His people. The scriptures show that God told the children of Israel to heed His voice AND do what was right in God’s sight. The scriptures show that God told the children of Israel to give ear to His commands AND keep them. The test that God placed upon His people was that, as He would speak, He expected them to trust Him, listen, and do the things that He said. God wanted the people to look past their physical circumstances and trust that He would take care of them and take them into the Promised Land. God promised that if the Israelites would trust Him to meet their needs, and demonstrate that trust through the consideration of His Word and through obedience, He would keep them from the judgments and plagues that He previously placed upon the Egyptians. The Lord God revealed Himself at this time, through this test, as “The Lord Who Heals” (Jehovah Rapha).
It is important to notice that the Lord’s identity as “Healer” is not presented in the context of physical infirmity. The Lord’s identity as “Healer” is presented in the context of a test that God used to examine the faith of His people through obedience. The Lord is a Healer of the soul. The Lord revealed Himself as Healer after He had transformed the condition of the water through the faith Moses demonstrated in the tree. This is a Messianic picture of the Lord’s identity as Healer of sin. God is Healer in the sense that He changes the condition of the soul, from unrighteous to righteous, when one demonstrates faith in Jesus and the work He accomplished before the cross, through the cross, and after the cross. While it is true that the Lord is able to heal physical and circumstantial conditions, the scriptures reveal that God’s focus is the spiritual condition of His people dealing with faith. God desires that His people would trust Him by trusting in the things that He says through the Word. God expects this trust to be demonstrated in action to show that He is the object of one’s faith. Upon demonstrating such faith, the Bible teaches that God is willing to reveal even more incredible things about Himself as Healer, but also as Yahweh!
Salvation can sometimes be something abstract. Sometimes the concept of salvation can seem so complex, or sometimes overly simply, that a person can loose grasp on one's own salvation and what it really means. This is not to say that a person can loose their salvation, but instead, loose sense of how great one's salvation really is. The Bible teaches that Christians should put on "the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17), which is essentially a command to think about one's salvation, the method by which it comes, the process of living in it, and the benefits of it. The Bible teaches that Christians should often consider salvation so that its a focal point of one's mind because it is a concept that is awesome and great in magnitude!
The Lord provided a summary of salvation in the Book of Exodus. As the children of Israel witnessed the Lord God destroy the Egyptians by the Red Sea, the scriptures show that the children of Israel celebrated God's work by singing a song that had prophetic merits to it. The song that Israel sang to God for the work He did to judge the Egyptians spoke about the salvation that God brought to them, and so serves as a description of the greater salvation God brings to those who trust in Christ Jesus and receive forgiveness of sins and His righteousness. Exodus 15:1-21 explains that the children of Israel rejoiced in great amazement of God's powerful work and at that time, had some understanding of God and His desire to save.
Exodus 15:1-21 first explains that the children of Israel recognized that the victory they received was achieved by the Lord, and they were in no way involved with the work God did to destroy the Egyptians. The song that the Israelites sang acknowledged that God triumphed over the Egyptians, and the triumph of the Lord brought benefit to His people. This is the way salvation works. The victory over sin, death, and the devil does not come by the efforts of people. The way one is able to overcome sin is by trusting in the work that Jesus did to destroy it in judgment through His own death and resurrection. In the same way that God was responsible for the victory for Israel against the Egyptians is the same way God is responsible for the victory over sin and death for believers.
The song that the children of Israel sang provided some interesting insights about God as well, in terms of describing His identity. Exodus 15:1-21 explains that Yahweh is a God of war. The phrase specifically says that "God is a man of war." While this might seem offensive and bad to some people, one must understand the context of such a statement. The context presented in Exodus shows that God waged war against Egypt. He waged war against Egypt because the people rebelled against Him through the ways they treated His people. God waged war against Egypt in His efforts to take care of and protect His own people, and to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises. This war that God waged in scripture is representative of the war that God wages against the devil, sin and death. God wages war against the devil, sin, and death because His people are helpless against them and they are destructive to His people. The devil, sin and death prevent God's people from receiving the blessings and benefits that God desires to give, and so God is willing to respond against those things in His grace in violent ways. This is a good thing!
The song of Israel states that God specifically used His right hand to administrate this judgment and respond in a war-like way against Egypt, which means that God uses His right hand to respond the same way against the devil, sin and death. The Bible explains that God's right hand was physically pictured as a "the destroyer" on the night of Passover, and as "the Angel of God" during the journey through the Red Sea. Both of these descriptions are descriptions of Jesus. The New Testament states that Jesus sits at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34). Thus, the Bible teaches that God wages war against the devil, sin and death through Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father. This is the way it was in the Book of Exodus, and the children of Israel sang these truths at this time.
Exodus 15:1-21 explains that the salvation that God gave to the children of Israel was given on the premise of mercy by the method of redemption. This means that God saved the children of Israel from Egypt as an act of mercy. In other words, they deserved to suffer as they were in Egypt, but God relented on allowing such suffering and freed the people from it. In the same way, the salvation that one receives in Christ is founded on mercy. The author of Hebrews even stated that because of Jesus, one is able to approach the throne of grace (God's throne) but will first find mercy (Hebrews 4:16). In other words, the people of God who have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ, actually deserve to suffer in death. Nevertheless, God offered mercy so that those who desire to live can receive the favor of God and have the judgment that one deserves be lifted.
The song that the Israelites sang also stated that the Lord manifested His mercy in salvation through redemption. This means that the mercy that God offered was demonstrated in the form of a financial transaction. God paid a price for the children of Israel. The scriptures even reveal that God purchased the Israelites. The price that was paid was paid in blood - the blood of the Egyptians as well as the blood of the sacrificial animals that were slaughtered on the night of Passover. Though salvation did not cost the children of Israel anything of themselves, there was a hefty price to be paid nonetheless. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 explains that those who have been saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus have been "redeemed" in the same way. God paid a price to remove His people from sin's judgment. The price He paid was in the blood of the only begotten Son of God, which was God in the flesh. God revealed Himself as the Son of Man in order to die a physical death, so that when Jesus' blood was spilled in the beating He took and in the crucifixion, it was God's own blood. Since God shed His own blood in the form of Jesus, His blood would be sufficient to pay the price of all sin, since God is eternal in nature, and Jesus' resurrection proved this to be true! Thus, those who have been saved were bought with a price - the highest price that there could possibly be!
Lastly, the song that Israel sang revealed God's motives for doing all of these things, which helps one understand why God offers salvation through Jesus Christ. Exodus 15:1-21 explains that God did these things for the children of Israel in order that they would be able to dwell in the land that He desired to give them, where He promised He would dwell as well. God wanted His people to dwell with Him, in a place that He specially prepared for His people. Recall that Moses commanded Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go free in order that they would be able to worship God (Exodus 8:1). Thus, God offers salvation in order that His people would escape the judgement He will bring upon sin in His mercy and grace, in order that they would live forever, with Him, equipped to eternally worship Him. This is the way salvation comes. This is the reason that God gives salvation. God's motives for salvation is not "love." Instead, one should see that God exercised "love" by revealing the person of Christ, with the motive to equip His people to dwell with Him to eternally worship Him. God desired His people to be freed from the bondage of sin in order that His people would exist in a condition where they could worship Him the right way for all of eternity. The children of Israel sang this song in praise of God's work to do these things. Thus all of the children of God should praise God for the work God did, and continues to do in salvation!
The Bible explains that God has certain expectations for His children. The Bible uses the concept of regeneration and being "born again" to explain that, upon being saved, there is an expectation for a person to grow and mature in faith by the Spirit. The Book of Exodus has revealed that God demanded His people be properly identified as His children to take advantage of His salvation. God commanded the children of Israel to be circumcised, to remove leaven, to display the blood of their sacrifice, and to be prepared in anticipation for God's salvation. These truths explain that God expected participation in His salvation. This does not at all suggest that the children of Israel needed to do these things to be delivered. This means that God was going to deliver, but these things needed to be done in order to take advantage of the salvation God had already worked to offer.
For many Christians it becomes hard to understand the balance of faith and works. The Bible plainly states that all people are saved by the grace of God through faith, and not of works lest any person should boast. Yet the Lord is clear to explain that He has these expectations regarding the efforts of His people to be in certain positions to receive His salvation. The testimony of God's work to destroy the Egyptians in the Red Sea in Exodus 14:19-31 helps explain this dynamic of the Bible. The testimony of God's work to deliver the children of Israel makes it much easier to understand how God works to deliver all of His people from sin, and how to balance the faith/works issue.
In Exodus 14:19-31 the Bible explains that "the Angel of God" went before the Israelites to lead them through the Red Sea that God parted. The Bible teaches that God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites were able to cross on dry land, and so that the waters formed a wall on both the right and the left of the people. Though scripture previously stated that God Himself went before the children of Israel as a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, Exodus 14:19-31 explains that it was the Angel of God. This means that the Angel of God is God Himself. The Hebrew phrase that is used to describe this figure is Malach Yahweh, which is the same as the Angel of the Lord. Examining the use of this phrase in the Old Testament, one will find that the Angel of the Lord is an Old Testament reference to Jesus Christ. Thus, it was Jesus Christ that revealed Himself as God by a pillar of cloud and fire to lead the children of Israel through the Red Sea.
However, as the Israelites realized that the Egyptians were in pursuit, Exodus 14:19-31 explains that the pillar of cloud, which was the form of God as Jesus Christ, went behind them. Thus, the cloud was in front of the Israelites to lead them, and was also behind them to protect them. The Angel of God that is described as a cloud and fire is also described as having the omnipresence of the Living God. The scriptures explain that as Jesus took position behind the children of Israel, He was able to control His form so that He remained a could to the children of Israel by day, and fire by night, while also being a dark cloud over the Egyptians in order that they could not see and catch the Israelites. In other words, the Angel of God took whatever form was necessary to ensure the leadership and simultaneous protection of His people!
For this reason, the Egyptians had a hard time pursuing. The Bible explains that since the Egyptians could not close distance on the Israelites, they followed the children of Israel into the dry ground of the Red Sea. Exodus 14:19-31 explains that God looked down from the pillar of cloud that was confusing the Egyptians and effected their chariot wheels, making it even more difficult to progress in their pursuit. The Bible explains that the Egyptians recognized these events as the work of God and were suddenly afraid to continue in their pursuit of the Israelites. The Egyptians knew they made a mistake and knew that God was fighting for His people. The Lord's will to glorify Himself to the Egyptians was completed.
This hold up caused the children of Israel to gain ground in separation from the Egyptians so that God was able to command Moses to lift his rod in order that the walls of the water of the Red Sea would be restored to its normal condition with the Egyptian army trapped. Therefore, Moses did as instructed and the walls of the water of the Red Sea came crashing down on the Egyptians, destroying every single one of them. The Bible candidly explains that the children of Israel were able to witness the bodies of the Egyptians and their horses wash up onto the shore as dead.
At the end of this testimony, the Bible explains that the children of Israel examined the work that the Lord had done to destroy the Egyptians, saw the effects of God's work, feared the Lord, and then believed in the Lord as well as in Moses. This response helps one understand salvation. While faith is expressed in this passage, it is important to recognize that the children of Israel were saved first. God first destroyed the threat of the Egyptians, and as the people of God saw God's work, they feared the Lord and thus believed in who He was. In this way it is seen that, while faith is required for salvation, it is one's recognition of God as Savior that serves as "saving faith," which means that God saves first! God successfully delivered His people, and it was this deliverance that provided the focal point of the people for saving faith. The judgment that God executed against Egypt (representative of sin) is what caused the Israelites to fear God - and rightly so. This fear of God caused the children of Israel to believe in the righteousness, faithfulness, and holiness of God.
While it is true that God's children are saved by faith, one must always remember that God worked to save first, which means that the salvation that is received in faith is an act of God's grace. Since God saved before His people believed, the salvation that is received in faith comes in the form of unmerited favor. It is true that God has certain expectations for His children, but these expectations are only to identify one that has been saved already as a result of the work that He does on His own, without the participation of people. As it was the Angel of God that caused these things to take place, and the Bible is clear to reveal the Angel of God as the Old Testament form of Jesus Christ, it is clear to see that the salvation God offers through grace comes by Jesus!
When studying the Bible, it is important to recognize the motives that God has for the works that He does. Often times the Bible will explain the purposes of God's work. When those details are included in the testimony of His work, it is important to consider those things lest one improperly interpret God's work and risk developing incorrect expectations for God's work in the future. The Bible explains that God performs His work for Himself in order that His name would remain pure and His witness before others would be untainted. However, since God is such a great and powerful God, the work that God does to glorify Himself usually has residual benefits for the children of God. Nevertheless, the scriptures are clear to show that God often performs miracles for His own glory, of which God's children benefit from that work as a bi-product of His work - not as the central focus.
An example of this truth is seen in Exodus 14:13-18. In this portion of scripture the Lord commanded the children of Israel to move across the Red Sea since the Egyptians were in angry pursuit of God's people, having terrible intentions. The Bible explained that the children of Israel recognized the pursuit of the Egyptians and began to fear. They criticized Moses and complained against the work God had done to free them from Egypt in the midst of their unbelief. Hence, Exodus 14:13-18 is reflective of God's response towards the children of Israel, and also the Egyptian army being led by Pharaoh.
The scriptures first reveal that God would be the one to bring salvation for His people. Despite the ideas and foolish rationale of the children of Israel, God did not deliver His people from Egypt in order that they would die in the wilderness. God delivered the children of Israel to take them into the Promised Land according to the eternally unconditional promises that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The work that God was doing amongst the Israelites was for the purpose of demonstrating His own faithfulness. It should come as no surprise then, that when the efforts of God arose that threatened His desire to take the Israelites into the Promised Land that God addressed those threats Himself.
Exodus 14:13-18 explains that God would save His people. In fact, the scriptures show that God told the children of Israel to "be still." In other words, the children of Israel were to calm down and be peaceful. God expected the children of Israel to just relax and trust in Him despite the threats that could be seen. The Lord simply wanted the children of Israel to "wait upon the Lord" while He did the necessary work to offer salvation. That said, it is important to examine the scriptures to see the actions of Israel according to God's command in order to understand what it means to "be still" according to the scriptures.
The testimony of Exodus 14:13-18 explains that Moses encouraged the people. He told the children of Israel that God would fight for them. God was prepared to do the necessary work to keep His children safe in order that His promises could be fulfilled. God was not afraid and God was not lacking in resources or ability to address and successfully deal with the threat posed against His people. God would fight! The scriptures show that when people seek to do harm to the children of God in a way that the harm compromises the fulfillment of His promises, God will respond in big ways. It was because of the participation of the Lord that Moses told the children of Israel to hold their peace. Since God was going to fight - the same God that brought the 10 plagues upon Egypt while keeping Israel safe - the expectation was for the people to have peace. The expectation of the people was to trust in the Lord and not panic in the fear they originally demonstrated. The expectation was for the Israelites to stop complaining and be confident in God to continue to exercise His sovereign power to fulfill His promises.
The scriptures then explain what it means to "be still." When God told the children of Israel to "be still," He did not do so with the expectation that the people would just sit around while He did all the work. Though the Lord would bring salvation with the need of the people, the Lord said to move forward. Though the Lord would not require the participation of the Israelites to fight against Egypt, God did expect the children of Israel to move in the direction that they were originally commanded to go, trusting that any obstacles would eventually be cleared at the appropriate time. Hence, the responsibility of the children of God when told to "be still" or "wait upon the Lord," does not mean that one should do nothing. Instead, one should continue to pursue the Lord that leads them, heading in the direction the Lord previously commanded, trusting in the fulfillment of God's promises while He does the necessary work to save (which has already been completed by Jesus by this point in time).
Exodus 14:13-18 explains that, though God expected the people to move forward, at the time He said so, there was a great obstacle that kept them from doing so - the Red Sea. Nevertheless, God said that He would deal with that obstacle as well. The Lord promised the children of Israel that they would cross the Red Sea on dry ground. God would remove the water that posed an obstacle and threat and perform the necessary work to ensure the safety of His people to fulfill His promises. The omnipresence and omnipotence of God is demonstrated in this promises since God would deal with problems that were both ahead and behind the children of Israel all by Himself! Yet in spite of all these things, Exodus 14:13-18 explains that God would perform these great miracles of salvation to glorify Himself. The scriptures state that God would perform these miracles to gain honor amongst the Egyptians. Though the children of Israel would receive benefit from these efforts, God's focal point was not the children of Israel. God's focal point was Egypt and God desired to ensure the Egyptians knew Him as the God Most High.
There is a tendency to examine scripture and the blessings of God in a somewhat narcissistic way. The message of God's mercy, grace, and love can sometimes be misfocused to where the beneficiaries of God's favor are elevated above the God who gives favor. The scriptures are clear to show that, while the children of God are entitled to the greatest benefits and blessings that mankind will ever know, God's purpose and focus in offering these blessings is to glorify Himself in the work that He does against sin. This is a constant message that is consistent throughout all of scripture. Exodus 14:13-18 is a great example of this reality. It is true that God would fight for the children of Israel. It is true that the salvation that God gave to the children of Israel was a miraculous demonstration of grace. It is true that God removed the obstacles that kept the children of Israel from His blessings. However, it is also true that these effects were the bi-product of the work God did to bring honor to His own name amongst the Egyptians. God states this truth 2 times in this passage.
Therefore, as children of God, one should have proper perspective that might help to focus one's worship and thanksgiving in a more proper way. While one should be thankful for the salvation and blessings that God gives, one should be more thankful of the work that God does against sin in order to purify and honor His own name. It is God's desire for sin to be destroyed that allows one to be saved, sanctified, and glorified in eternity. It is God's desire to keep His name pure that allows one to dwell with Him in eternity sin-free! It is God's desire to glorify Himself that allows the children of God to partake in that glory in His eternally glorious kingdom. This is why it is the Lord's responsibility to deal with sin and why He does not require the participation of the people to destroy sin. God alone is pure and glorious and so He is uniquely qualified to do this work. The responsibility of God's people is as seen in the scriptures - trust that God is able to preserve the nature of His name and identity by successfully dealing with the enemy, and just march forward in the direction that He leads, trusting that God will fulfill His promises!
There is a question that is most difficult to answer because of the sobering reality it presents. Most people don't like the truth to this answer, yet the Bible presents this question in a number of different ways in order to humble believers and encourage dependency upon the Lord. The question is: How much does the Lord have to do in one's life until one trusts in Him? Most Christians would be willing to admit that the Lord has come through in the clutch on repeated occasions, sometimes in extremely miraculous ways. Nevertheless, when life presents challenges, it is not uncommon for Christians to respond in fear, doubt, and complaining. Thankfully, the Lord is patient, merciful, and gracious with His children!
In Exodus 14:10-12 the Bible explains that when Pharaoh heard about the change of direction of the Israelites, he decided to pursue them to destroy and recapture them. The Bible explains that Pharaoh rounded up every chariot and his entire army to pursue the children of Israel. The scriptures explain that upon recognizing the approaching Egyptian army, the children of Israel became "very afraid" and began to complain against Moses. The Bible testifies that the children of Israel got bitter against Moses and accused him of removing Israel from Egypt for the purpose of death. Though the children of Israel had seen the hand of the Lord on the Passover evening and watch God work in 9 previous plagues, the Bible explains that they cried out to the Lord in terror as if God performed all of that work in vain, just so that the children of Israel could die by the Egyptians in the wilderness.
The Bible explains that the bitterness against Moses was intense. They approached Moses saying, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?" It is important to recognize the ignorance and foolishness of the children of Israel. When God first called Moses to be His instrument before Pharaoh, God was sure to explain to Moses that the ability of Moses would come from the throne of God. The Lord wanted Pharaoh to see Moses as if he were God, but the Bible is clear to explain that the Lord was responsible for all of the work. Thus, as the children of Israel complained against Moses, they complained against the work of God. As they accused Moses, they accused God. The children of Israel displayed high levels of ignorance since God's motivation to remove Israel from the land of Egypt was so that they could worship Him in the land that He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God did not free the children of Israel because they were great people. Instead, God delivered the children of Israel on account of His own faithfulness and grace. For this reason, the attitude that the Israelites demonstrated against Moses reflected hearts that questioned the very essence of God and His purposes according to His promises.
Though God had performed 10 miraculous plagues against Egypt in ways that reflected God's ability to target His judgment and spare His own people, the children of Israel were afraid and doubted God. Though God had taken aggressive steps towards the fulfillment of the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, demonstrating the extent of His faithfulness, the children of Israel were afraid. Moses even took the bones of Joseph with him to take back into the Promised Land to fulfill the prophecy of Genesis 50:25, yet the children of Israel were afraid and complained. The children of Israel were even able to plunder the Egyptians upon leaving Israel, taking much of their gold, silver, bronze, and expensive clothing according to the prophecy of Genesis 15:14, yet the children of Israel were afraid and complained against God. Though God revealed Himself and the children of Israel witnessed the fulfillment of God's Word, they were still afraid and complained against God.
Exodus 14:10-12 explains that the unbelief that the Israelites demonstrated caused them to say some really foolish things. In the midst of their complaining towards Moses about the work methods of God, they said, "For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness." This statement reveals a lot of problems within the hearts of Israel. First, it is seen that the fear of the Israelites has caused them to believe that they were going to die. The children of Israel did not trust God as their Father to take care of them. The children of Israel did not consider God faithful to take them into the Promised Land. The children of Israel did not figure God to be thorough in His judgment against Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
Exodus 14:0-12 also reveals that the children of Israel thought it would have been better to stay in Egypt. The difficulty of God's journey, though He went before the Israelites in miraculous ways, was such that they didn't want to bother. The difficulties provided inconveniences that caused fear, and fear produced doubt. The children of Israel spoke in ways that showed they preferred bondage rather than freedom just because of the way their freedom appeared to be difficult. Though the Lord was leading to the Promised Land, the first sign of adversity caused the Israelites to talk about how bondage was better. Though the children of Israel cried out to God and complained to be delivered for 430 years, they wanted to go back because they figured they'd be able to live in Egypt.
It is interesting to examine the truths that the Bible reveals and the dangers of unbelief. The ignorance of the people regarding the identity and purpose of God caused them to fear their circumstances. The fear of the people caused them to complain against God. The complaints of the people reflected discontentment with God. The discontentment of God defined their unbelief, which would later cause severe consequences as it birthed into sin. It is interesting to see how people respond to the work of God verses life circumstances. Though God had done so much to show Himself as all mighty, as all knowing, as merciful, as patient, and as gracious, the first sign of adversity caused God's own children to forget all of those things and panic. God's own people expressed a desire to dwell in the suffering of bondage rather than embrace the difficulties of deliverance. The reality was that both roads were difficult, but only God's way led to blessing. Yet the Israelites expressed their greater desire to go back to the bondage that led to death rather than follow the Lord according to His perfect wisdom and righteousness.
There are great lessons that the people of God can learn from this testimony. While the truth of human nature is not flattering, it is truth nonetheless, and there is a need for all of God's people to acknowledge these truths, and repent from them. Notice that the root of these issues stems from ignorance: the people didn't know the true nature of the Living God according to His Word. They couldn't recognize the fulfillment of God's Word. They didn't understand how the faithfulness of God worked. They didn't know the work methods of the Lord to sanctify His people. This ignorance caused the children of Israel to make life far more difficult than it had to be, and many of them missed out on the awesome blessings that God desired to give. At the same time, it is important to recognize the tremendous patience of God as He dealt with these people. It is important to recognize the mercy of God as He refrained from judging the unbelief of these people. It is important to recognize the grace of God as He continued to show these people great favor. It is important to recognize the faithfulness of God since He continued to work towards the fulfillment of His promises in spite of these people, for His own name sake.
It is difficult to understand all of the moves that God makes in life. The Bible teaches that the Lord knows the beginning from the end, and can look into the hearts of all people to know their intents and is willing to respond accordingly. The Bible explains that God will leverage this knowledge and understanding to work in certain ways that reveal His divine nature, but that work often includes God's people, whether they know it or not.
In Exodus 14:1-9 the Bible testifies that the Lord wasn't quite done with Egypt. Though the children of Israel had been removed from Egypt and had begun their trek into the wilderness, the scriptures show that Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart. In spite of the work of judgment that God did in Egypt, Pharaoh and his servants regretted letting the children of Israel go free. The Bible explains that this change of heart was by the inspiration of God. Once again, the scriptures show that God sought to change the heart of Pharaoh. However, as in previous scripture, one must consider that God is simply using circumstances to reveal Pharaoh's already-hardened heart.
It is important to consider that God does not play with the free will of people. Every person has the opportunity and freedom to make whatever choice that person desires. When the Bible says that God hardens a heart, or even softens a heart, it is important to realize that God is simply arranging circumstances that reveal the true nature of that heart. Consider the reality of Pharaoh. The Bible explained that after the last plague of judgment that God brought, Pharaoh was so distraught over the massive loss of life, even in his own household, that he kicked Israel out of Egypt. Though Pharaoh sought to horde Israel to himself previously, he was anxious to remove the children of Israel from his sight. Pharaoh had recognized that he could not defeat the Lord.
However, Exodus 14:1-9 explains that Pharaoh suddenly was bold to go against God again. Exodus 14:1-9 explained that Pharaoh sought to rebel against the God who had already destroyed Egypt. In fact, when the Bible explains that God was going to harden Pharaoh's heart, the Lord says that He was going to do so in order to show Pharaoh that He was the Lord. This means that Pharaoh had not yet learned who the Lord was! In spite of all the judgment that God had produced against Egypt, somehow Pharaoh still didn't get it! Though he had been beaten down to nothing as a nation, Pharaoh still couldn't recognize the supremacy of the Living God. Hence, Pharaoh sought to respond against God's people in an effort to respond against God Himself. The Bible is candid to reveal that Pharaoh wanted the children of Israel to serve and worship him, and not God.
This portion of scripture is helpful to describe how God is in control of these things and exercises His sovereignty for the benefit of His children. While Pharaoh was rebellious against God to the extent that he sought to be aggressive against God's people, the Bible explains that God knew and had a plan in place. In fact, Exodus 14:1-9 starts by explaining that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh by changing the direction of the children of Israel. The scriptures explain that upon coming to a certain point in the wilderness, God changed the course of the Israelites. When Pharaoh heard about the change in course and realized where they were, Pharaoh recognized an opportunity. He figured that Israel changed direction suddenly because they were lost. Pharaoh figured that the God who had responded in favor of Israel had left the Israelites stranded in the desert. Pharaoh, not knowing God, figured that God had abandoned His people, and in this foolish thinking, thought he could destroy the people of God.
The Bible explains that God was the one who caused the children of Israel to change direction. God made it appear as if He was not present to outsiders. Though God was leading by a pillar of smoke and a pillar of fire in a very clear way to the children of Israel, the Egyptians figured God was gone. They couldn't recognize His presence. Therefore, the inspiration that Pharaoh had to attack the Israelites with all of his chariots and army was received from a strategic decision that God made. God wanted Pharaoh to think that the Israelites were confused in the wilderness. Upon Pharaoh seeing this, he saw an opportunity to destroy Israel, and his hard heart was revealed. At the same time, when one considers the work that God will do to destroy Egypt by the Red Sea, one must consider that God was making subtle decisions that were lining up one of the greatest and powerful demonstrations of God's sovereignty ever recorded in history.
Think about the perspective of the Israelites during this time. God had changed direction, and while the Bible does not state that the Israelites were concerned about this change in direction, the change was noticeable to others. The subtle work of God didn't really cause concern in the camp of Israel, but the Egyptians were able to notice and responded in their wickedness. This small change would cause a chain reaction of events that would allow God to reveal Himself in ways that the world has never seen since! The subtle leadership of the Living God works in such ways that God is able to flex His deity and power to those involved in His work. It is important to recognize that while everyone remembers the parting of the Red Sea, few remember the change of direction that God caused in Exodus 14:1-9 that allowed the Red Sea miracle to take place. The point is, God is always working and is always in control. No matter how subtle His work may appear, it always eventually leads to the powerful revelation of His glory!
The involvement and the leadership of the Lord can be difficult for some people to examine and realize at times. There are times in life where opportunity and circumstances seem so ambiguous and confusing that it can feel like the Lord is way far off or that His leadership and providence is non-existent in life at that time. However, since the Bible promises that the Lord will never leave, nor forsake His children, one must consider that the Lord is not removed from one's life. Instead, one must understand the ways that God leads in the scriptures in order to identify the method that He is exercising at a particular time. Upon understanding God's leadership according to the scriptures, one can better discern God's presences, receive more confidence by His leadership, and move forward in faith regardless of the condition of the circumstances.
In Exodus 13:17-22 the Bible explains the way that the Lord led the children of Israel out of Egypt. There are some key details that describe God's method and His purpose for that method that help reveal the common ways that God leads all of His children. The Bible explains that when the children of Israel were packed up and ready to leave Egypt, the Lord went before His people. This means that God was in front. God was leading by going first. It is important to recognize the simplicity of this critical detail. The Lord revealed Himself as Deliverer in order to set His people free from bondage so that they could worship Him according to His standards in the Land that He desired to give them. Thus, it is important to know that God went in front of the people. Since God was determined to give the people the Land that He promised, it is good to know that He was willing to show the people the way to get there. God did not provide difficult directions. Instead, God was among the people and revealed Himself in such a way that the people could follow His exact lead without ambiguity. The Lord wanted to ensure that His people got to the Promised Land in order to worship and so He did what was necessary to ensure they ended up at the right place.
Exodus 13:17-22 explains that God revealed Himself to the people as a pillar of cloud by day and then a pillar of fire by night. The Lord revealed Himself in ways that resembled nature, but in a supernatural way that His children would recognize. The Lord revealed Himself as a leader and exercised His control over the elements of this world to present Himself as a leader. Hence, it is not that God sets His children free from bondage and then departs to let His children figure out their new lives on their own. Instead, the Lord reveals Himself in ways that His children can recognize, and is able to do so supernaturally if necessary. Consider that there was not a time where the Lord was not recognizable to the people. During the day, when vision was clear, the Lord presented Himself as a pillar of cloud. The Lord presented Himself in such a way that looked like that which was in the heavens was touching the earth like a pillar. During the night, the Lord revealed Himself as a pillar of fire to illuminate the way that He desired His children to go and to protect His children from the surrounding dangers.
The type of leadership that the Bible describes the Lord practicing is important to understand. Both forms of leadership paint prophetic pictures of Jesus Christ, which means that the method by which God leads today is by Jesus Christ. In that the Lord revealed Himself as a pillar of cloud by the day shows that God presented Himself in such a way that there was a connection from the sky to the ground. This image resembles the image that Jacob witnessed during his dream in Genesis 28:12 where he saw a stairway connecting heaven to earth with angels ascending and descending on it. In John 1:51 Jesus told Nathanael that He was the fulfillment of that stairway, allowing the heavenly things of God, mainly His promises, come down to earth by Him so that mankind would have access to the God that was previously unapproachable. Jesus would connect mankind to God as that stairway, giving sinners access to God's promises through His work and identity. The pillar of cloud resembles the same image as the cloud, which came from heaven, touched down to the earth during the day (John 9:4), to lead the people into God's Promised Land.
In the same way, the Lord revealed Himself as a pillar of fire by night. When God created the heavens and the earth, He observed darkness in the earth and responded against it by revealing Jesus as the Light of the world. While the world was described as formless and void, the Lord revealed Himself as Light to add order and purpose to the world. Jesus as the Messiah is He who God appointed to do this work against darkness through the forgiveness of sins. God understood the dangers of darkness and provided His people with salvation to overcome the darkness since darkness could not overcome the Light (John 1:5). The revelation of Light was intended to illuminate the dangers of the enemy, protect from those dangers, and provide direction as an example to those who desire dwelling with God in His eternal kingdom (John 1:4). Likewise, God provided a pillar of fire by night, during the time of darkness, for His people, in order that, though the conditions were dangerous, the people were still protected, still had direction, and could still see that the Lord was in their midst.
Lastly, the scriptures explain that God purposefully led the children of Israel into wilderness. In Exodus 13:17-22 the Bible explains that God consciously decided to lead the children of Israel into land that is described as "wilderness," which means that the land was uninhabited. It is true that the path that God chose to take His people was one that other people had not traveled. It is true that the path that God led down was one that did not seem familiar or popular to the children of Israel since no other people had populated those areas. It was also true that God was leading nevertheless, and equally as important, it was true that God took His people away from populated land to lead them by wilderness. Exodus 13:17-22 plainly states that God knew the temperament of His children. He knew that if He led them by the normal path from Egypt to Canaan, that His people would have been afraid of the Philistines and desired to go back to Egypt. The Lord knew that the Philistines would have provided great obstacles of fear for His people and so He took the people around their land. The Bible says that God knew that, upon seeing the land of the Philistines and the people, the people would have changed their minds about leaving Egypt and would have wanted to return.
The scriptures show that God was willing to take His children into wilderness and go the long way with His people because He knew the other road presented worse dangers. God knew His people and the fear that defined them. God knew that His people were unfaithful by nature and would have doubted God's ability to protect them in spite of the things He revealed about Himself so far. God knew that the easier road through the land of the Philistines was filled with greater dangers to the people, and so was actually the more difficult road that would have led back into bondage in Egypt. Therefore, God was willing to lead His people through land described as wilderness. God preferred to lead His people through land that was uninhabited. God preferred to lead His people through land that others hadn't traveled down before. God preferred to lead His people through land that was unpopular and unusual. God preferred to lead His people through land that seemed confusing and dismal because it was less dangerous than the land populated with greater dangers.
Nothing has changed. God leads the same ways today. Sometimes life can seem like wilderness; where one is all alone and looking at the horizon, is finding it difficult to see a target of hope. Sometimes life can seem like the duty of a Christian is so obscure so that it seems as if one is traveling down a road that no one has been before. Nevertheless, the scriptures are sure to encourage God's children by showing that, even though the Lord prefers to lead through wilderness, He goes first, and is always presenting Himself in a form that one can recognize and follow into the Promised Land. Therefore, it is simply the responsibility of the Christian to recognize the form of God's leadership and follow it. It is important to know that God may not want to lead through the road of familiarity or popularity. The scriptures seldom show God doing things the ways others do them. God seldom leads His people down roads that people have paved. Thus, one can look at one's circumstances to better recognize the path that God is leading down. Secondly, God revealed His leadership to the children of Israel in ways that prophesied pictures of Jesus Christ. Today the pictures are more clear through the Word of God since Christ is the Word. The method by which God reveals Himself to His children to lead, protect, and provide examples of His direction is by His Word found in the Bible. The job of the Christian is simply to acknowledge this truth, submit to this truth, and follow this truth in faith as God expected the children of Israel to do the same!