In Exodus 13 the Israelites are between a rock and a hard place. Actually, they are stuck between the shores of the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army. God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt where they were slaves for hundreds of years.
Through a series of 10 plagues, Pharaoh finally decides to let God’s people go. So, Moses and 2-3 million Israelites leave Egypt to head to the Promised Land. Then Pharaoh changes his mind and sends his army to destroy the Israelites. The Egyptian Army with their horses, chariots and armed soldiers have the Israelites trapped between them and the Red Sea. The Israelites appear to have nowhere to go, but as they follow God, he makes a path for them through the Red Sea.
Exodus 13:21-22 says, “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” The cloud represents the presence of God. God was in the cloud. God was in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. God is with his people day and night. God is always with us.
In the Old Testament, the presence of God was above God’s people in the form of a cloud. In the New Testament, the presence of God is in God’s people in the form of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” We are to keep in step with the Spirit. We are to follow the cloud.
I have been trying to apply this to my life over the last few months. I love to be strategic. I love to put together a business plan for the church. I set goals and have a strategy for my family, my marriage, and my life. And many times, when I do this, I am trusting in myself. I am trusting in my personal knowledge or wisdom. And I have made the mistake many times of getting out in front of the cloud. I get out in front of God and try to make things happen on my own.
And what I have been trying to apply to my life and leadership is simply to follow the cloud. I am trying to wake up each day, press into the presence of God and say, God, “What do you want me to do today? I trust that your Holy Spirit is going to lead me. I trust that you are going to open and close doors. I want to be sensitive to your guidance and direction in my life. I want to follow the cloud.”
When we follow the cloud, God gives us guidance and direction. The Israelites were simply to follow the cloud. The cloud was out in front of the people, and God led the Israelites where He wanted them to go. They simply woke up each day and followed the cloud. In the Old Testament, the Israelites had the cloud. In the New Testament, we have the Holy Spirit. The 3rd person of the Trinity is living in us and through us.
Jesus says in John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. We simply have to listen to Him and be sensitive to His leading in our lives. Follow the cloud.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Through the Bible, God’s word, he gives us enough light for our next step. When we take that step, he reveals more of his path to us. We are simply to take our next step of obedience, and then he sheds more light on our next step on his path for our lives. I want to encourage you. Wake up each day, press into the presence of God and follow the cloud.
Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road Loganville, GA 30052, the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655 and the Oconee Campus: 1275 Lenru Road Bogart, GA 30622.
Phone: (770) 466-3159