Cloud and Fire

August 14, 2022   /   Faith Alliance Church

Wandering: book of Exodus / Exodus 13:17–22


God has established Himself in our midst so we don’t have to look around, we just have to look to Him.

Sometimes we need more than guesswork and pointing to get to where we need to be. Sometimes we need someone who can help us navigate the situation. because its difficult when we can’t understand what is next or what is now.

• as you know, Every Good sermon should start with a quote from 2 atheists. Albert Camus who is quoting Frederich Nietzsche in Camus book the Rebel writes about this in between place:

• Then the time of exile begins, the endless search for justification, the aimless nostalgia, “the most painful, the most heartbreaking question, that of the heart which asks itself: where can I feel at home?””

• In the in between, in between God’s deliverance from and deliverance to. In between what we know and what we don’t. In between where we have been and where we are going, there is a lot of discomfort.

– This is what the Isrealites are dealing with. This passage in Exodus 13 is unique. Because it represents a transition from one power structure to the next. God has finally set the Israelites free and they head into the wilderness, no longer under Pharaoh’s control. They are free from a corrupt reign. But as we find out, they are free from what is familiar, from what is normal. They are free from what they had known for 430 years. What we are used to, it turns out, is a big deal.

We can look to God because He knows what He’s doing

Exodus 13:17–18 ESV

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.

• But notice before this how He led. It was a different strategy. It was through power. but let’s take a moment and look at how God led prior to this.

God freed the Israelites from bondage with power and instruction

• In preparation God instructs. In movement God goes with. .

• We know it was hard to leave Egypt, they had a hard time leaving, we will see what lengths God went to to direct them in a moment.

• For their entire lives they took every cue they got from Pharaoh

• When God shows up he shows up in power because it’s the only language Pharaoh speaks.

God leads the Israelites with His presence toward a good and spacious place.

Exodus 3:7–8 ESV

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

• Why does God directly lead them now to a broad and spacious place instead of just instructing them with acts of power? Why does His strategy change?

• God frees with power and leads the Israelite nation with presence.

• The in between is a frightening prospect if you don’t have something in front of you that’s bigger than all the other things in front of you. Why?

• God applies deliverance to beginning in Chapter 13. So God Himself, His presence as cloud and fire became the biggest thing around them. The Israelites adjusted with some difficulty but God became larger than their hunger, their thirst, their grumbling. There was nothing bigger or safer than being with God. He had proven that through the plagues.

Exodus 13:21–22 ESV

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

• Pain feels large and loss feels large and the future is looming. And so we need something bigger than pain and loss and the future

• Presence, what is biggest and closest to you, changes where you look. it changes your direction, in changes your focus. IT places your most immediate attention not on where you aren’t but on what is closest to you

When everything is in between, when we aren’t sure where to go next or what to do. When we live in a culture where everything feels like no one knows where to go next or what to do, God moves into the middle and calls us to look to Him. He will move, He will lead, we are called to look.

John 14:1–4 ESV

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

• Jesus says you are in a place that your hearts can be troubled. But they don’t have to be. Jesus tells us to look to God. To look to Christ. To depend on Him. And that while we are in the in between, Christ will be coming back to get us.

John 14:5 ESV

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

John 14:6–7 ESV

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

• Jesus doesn’t give directions, He offers Himself. He says look to me. I am they way.

• He gave Himself to us in power to beat death on the cross For forgiveness but also so that we would know through presence what home is like. That in Christ is freedom from but also freedom for. That we know what real life is like. We know what home is like. Our hearts don’t have to ache for what we don’t have. We can get out of our tents in the morning, grab our coffee and look to Him, the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire. He is not only leading us home, He is our Home.


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