A Land Flowing With Milk And Honey - Part V
“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Ex. 13:21-22).
Mackintosh said: “The Lord not only conducted them safely outside the bounds of Egypt, but He also came down, as it were, in His traveling chariot, to be their companion through all the vicissitudes of their wilderness journey. This was divine grace. They were not merely delivered out of the furnace of Egypt and then allowed to make the best of their way to Canaan—such was not God’s manner toward them.”
He went on to say, “He went before them. He was ‘a guide, a glory, a defense, to save them from every fear.’”
If the Lord went into the wilderness with them, and it is plainly clear here that He did, then it is for certain that He would see them through the wilderness and, thereby, bring them out of the wilderness.
We see in all of this a perfect portrayal of the Trinity.
It was God the Father, as we would refer to Him now, who heard the groanings of Israel, and who raised up a deliverer for them.
The lamb without spot or blemish that was slain, with its blood applied, which secured protection and deliverance, typified God the Son. Understanding that, we must come to the conclusion, as well, that the pillar of cloud given to Israel for their guidance speaks to us of God the Holy Spirit. In fact, at every point in all of this, we anticipate the teaching of the New Testament, in other words, the fulfillment of all these things in Christ, which were only anticipated in the Old Testament.
It would seem in Verses 21 and 22 that there were two distinct appearances; however, Exodus 14:24 proclaims “the pillar of fire and of the cloud” as just one pillar. It was the visible sign of the Lord’s presence with Israel. It seems that its upper portion rose up to heaven in the form of a column, with its lower being spread out cloudlike over Israel’s camp. It seems to have been a pillar of fire in its upper portion and a cloud below. As stated, the cloud typified the Holy Spirit.
Let’s look at this as it’s carried out in the Word of God and see how it speaks to us presently.
THE CROSS MUST BE FIRST
Israel was delivered by the death of the paschal lamb, with its blood being applied to the doorposts. Then the cloud was given. This is the order of the New Testament.
Jesus died on the Cross in order for man to be redeemed, rose from the dead, ascended on high, and then the Holy Spirit was sent back on the Day of Pentecost. As well, this is the manner of the Christian experience.
The sinner comes to Christ, is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and then the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the soul. However, His coming is always on the grounds of Christ’s shed blood and the believer’s faith in that atoning work. It is never because of any moral fitness or merit in us.
It is beautifully amazing that the great doctrinal treatment of the redemption plan in Romans follows this guideline minutely.
Pink said: “It is not until after the believing sinner is ‘justified’ (Rom. 5:1) that we read of the Spirit of God. In 2:4-10 we get repentance; in 3:22-28, faith; and then in 5:5 we read ‘The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us!’”
A GIFT TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL
As should be obvious, the children of Israel had absolutely no idea as to the manifestation that the Lord would bring forth as it regarded the pillar of fire and the cloud. This was solely a gift of God, but let the reader understand this: Israel was now delivered from Egyptian bondage and, as stated, delivered through and by the shed blood of the lamb. As a result of what had happened, the gifts of God would now start flowing freely.
Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (the Greek says, ‘be baptized because your sins have already been remitted’), and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Before His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus told His disciples that He would send them another Comforter. There is no hint that any of the apostles requested such because, at the time, they had no knowledge of such, even as the children of Israel had no knowledge of what God would do as it regarded the cloud.
This great gift as promised by our Lord was altogether on the part of Christ and the Father (Jn. 14:16).
THE CLOUD SERVED AS A GUIDE
“The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire” (Ex. 13:21).
The Holy Spirit is given to us as our Lord said, “To guide us into all truth” (Jn. 16:13). If we are truly children of God, at the same time, we will be “led by the Spirit of God”
If there were other people in the wilderness, which there probably weren’t, but still, if so, and they would have looked down from the heights on this encampment of Israel, they would have seen a strange sight.
The tabernacle was where God dwelt between the mercy seat and the cherubim. Hovering over that tabernacle by day was the cloud, and hovering over it at night was the pillar of fire. That would have been a strange sight to anyone who was not a follower of Jehovah.
The truth is, the children of Israel were being shepherded by the Holy Spirit, which meant that God was with them both day and night the entire distance. There was no reason for them to complain about anything considering that the one who made the heavens and the earth was traveling as their leader.
Isn’t it the same presently? Why should we ever complain? Why should we ever question the Lord? Why should we ever doubt?
The Lord lives within us, which means that the Holy Spirit is with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We should ever be mindful of that in our conduct.
THE CLOUD WAS LIGHT
This speaks not only of visibility but, as well, of spiritual illumination. Many hundreds of years after this great episode of the deliverance of the children of Israel, Nehemiah said, “You led them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go” (Neh. 9:12).
As Israel was led both day and night by this particular cloud, likewise, the Holy Spirit is to the believer, “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:2).
THE CLOUD WAS A COVERING
The psalmist said, “He spread a cloud for a covering” (Ps. 105:39).
The covering of which the psalmist spoke had less to do with physical covering than it did protection.
Unfortunately, there are many in the modern church who look to man for covering instead of the Lord. Such a position is disastrous to say the least.
Paul said that we owe civil authorities obedience, that is, if what they demand does not violate the Word of God; however, when it comes to fellow Christians, we do not owe them the same obedience as we do civil authorities. In fact, as Paul laid down the guidelines by the Spirit in Romans 13:1-7, as it regarded submission to civil authority, he then said as it regarded fellow Christians, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8).
While I love all brothers and sisters in the Lord, no man is my covering; that can only come from the Lord.
GOD SPOKE FROM THE CLOUD
The psalmist also said, “He spoke unto them in the cloudy pillar” (Ps. 99:7).
Concerning this, the psalmist was, no doubt, referring to the following passage, “And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses” (Ex. 33:9).
Presently, in fact, ever since the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been, and is, the spokesman for the Holy Trinity.
Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches” (Rev., Chpts. 2-3).
To be sure, whatever the Holy Spirit speaks to us as believers will always and without exception coincide with the Word of God. If it deviates from the Word in any capacity, then it’s simply not the Spirit speaking.
Concerning the cloud, Exodus 14:20 says,“And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them.”
In other words, what was a great blessing to Israel was a great hindrance to the Egyptians and was meant to be so.
Jesus said, “I thank You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise and prudent” (Mat. 11:25).
It is said of the Holy Spirit, “The Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive” (Jn. 14:17).
THE CLOUD RESTED UPON THE TABERNACLE
When Moses finished the work of building the tabernacle, the Scripture says: “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:33-35).
The tabernacle was a type of Christ. In fact, everything in this structure pointed to Christ.
Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me” (Lk. 4:18).
John said of Christ, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire” (Mat. 3:11).
Every single thing we receive from the Lord as believers comes exclusively through Christ, and more particularly, what Christ did at the Cross. In fact, the Holy Spirit works exclusively within the parameters of the finished work of Christ (Jn. 14:17).
As well, Paul said concerning the Holy Spirit, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).
The believer can have everything for which Christ paid such a price, but only if his faith is exclusively in Christ and what Christ has done at the Cross (Gal. 5:5-6).
IN THE WILDERNESS, THE CLOUD NEVER LEFT ISRAEL
Nehemiah said, “Yet You in Your manifold mercies forsook them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them” (Neh. 9:19).
Despite the many failures of Israel, the Lord never withdrew the cloudy pillar. It rested over the tabernacle, and when the temple was built, it rested in the Holy of Holies.
The Scripture says, “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the Holy Place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD” (I Ki. 8:10).
The cloud only left when Israel, in essence, by her evil conduct, bade Him go. Even then, it was like He was extremely reluctant to leave.
The Scripture says: “Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city” (Ezek. 11:22-23).
THE SOON RETURN OF THE CLOUD
Thankfully, the Prophet Ezekiel also saw the cloud return. In fact, it has not happened yet, but it most definitely shall.
The prophet said: “And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and His voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with His glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city” (Ezek. 43:2-3).
This will be when the Lord has revealed Himself to Israel as it regards the second coming, and they have accepted Him as Lord, Saviour, and Messiah. He will then resume His covenant relationship with them, and then shall be fulfilled the ancient promise:
When the LORD shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain
This article is an excerpt from the book, When I See The Blood, by Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.