Listen to audio and follow along below with full transcript (also available to download in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)…..
We’re in the book of Exodus, but we’re here to have a fresh look at the Lord Himself. It’s all about seeing Him. Before we go to prayer let me share a Bible verse. When we introduced the book of Exodus, God’s picture of salvation, I suggested as a key verse Psalm 35:3, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” When you come here week after week I try to tell you that the Lord is your salvation, and other people tell you that the Lord is your salvation, and you read it in books, you hear it on tapes, that the Lord is your salvation, and we sing it in songs, but until the Lord says to your soul, “I am your salvation,” it will only be theory, and you don’t want theory. You want reality. Let’s ask the Lord to take us beyond theory and give Him a hearing ear, so that we can hear Him say to us, “I am your salvation.”
Heavenly Father, we thank You again this morning that we are so privileged to gather together in this home. We thank You for providing this for us through our dear sisters. We ask you, Lord, now and thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit, and do what You delight to do and turn our eyes to Christ, and give us that single eye, that we might really behold Him. Thank You that You are going to do it, and You are going to do it way beyond anything we could think or ask. We claim it in Jesus’ name. Amen
Let me quickly bring us to a little bit of review, and then where we are in our study. We’re on the tenth plague, and we’ve completed what you saw as the five chief facts connected with that tenth plague. For example, we have seen that they had to select a perfect lamb. Then we saw the necessity of that perfect, that substitute lamb, to die. And then we saw the necessity of the blood of that substitute lamb to be personally applied. As I tried to communicate, those first three facts—a perfect lamb, the death of a perfect lamb and the application of the finished work; the blood of the perfect lamb—have to do with God saving us, not from Egypt, but from God. We need to be saved from God before we can be saved from anything else; His wrath, His holiness, His law, His perfection. Judgment is a stern necessity of His holy character. He cannot tolerate sin. So, in this redemptive history of Israel that we have in Exodus, it will promise us a deliverance from Egypt, but that doesn’t come first. The first thing is deliverance from the Lord Himself. If I’m saved from God and His anger and His wrath, I’m saved from the punishment that I deserve, being separated for all eternity from Him. First He saves me from that, and He does that because He looks at the blood.
Exodus 12:13, “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I’ll pass over you.” The blood was only for the eyes of God. You are in the house and you can’t see the blood. It’s for His eyes, and He looks at the blood, and He is satisfied. It’s all a picture. God the Father is satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son, and therefore we’re saved from God.
Then we came to the next two facts that spoke of our deliverance from Egypt. When we speak of deliverance from Egypt in reality, we could say from bondage from sin and slavery, but it’s really deliverance from me. It’s deliverance from ourselves. We need to be saved from God, and then we need to be saved from ourselves. The way we are saved from ourselves is illustrated in the way He delivered us from Egypt.
Last week we looked at chapter 12:11, “You shall eat it in this manner, with your loins girded, sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it’s the Lord’s Passover.” We presented it in terms of the pilgrim’s dress. I took the entire lesson last week in order to give you what I think is the full view, the balance of scripture, on the truth of the pilgrims life. You are redeemed by power and blood. You are now a pilgrim. I’m redeemed by power and blood. I’m now a pilgrim. I’ll always still live on this earth. We have a new citizenship. We’re citizens of heaven. Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” We pass our little moment, our short time on the earth, and we go through this vanity and vexation, but we don’t live here. Our hearts are not here. You are spiritual people now.
2 Corinthians 5:6, “Therefore, being always of good courage, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we’re absent from the Lord. We walk by faith and not by sight. We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” I realize that most people when they see that passage apply it to death; absent from the body when I die, and then I’m at home with the Lord. There’s no way I’m going to take away that application. That’s a wonderful truth, but that is not the first application of that passage. Right in the middle of that passage we have verse 7, “We walk by faith, and not by sight.” That walk is on this earth. That’s not in heaven. That’s not after you die and go to glory. You walk by faith down here. When am I absent from the body in its first application? The answer is it’s when I live by faith. When am I present with the Lord? It’s when I live by faith. When we’re at home in the body, that is when we live a carnal life and live on the earth, then we’re absent from the Lord. This is a spiritual principle. It goes into eternity, but it’s a spiritual principle.
Let me illustrate it one time. 2 Corinthians 11 the Apostle Paul gives a testimony of some of things he went through. Verse 23, “Are they servants of Christ? I speak as if insane. I’m more so, in far more labors, far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death, and five times I received from the Jews 39 lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked, and then a day and a night I spent in the deep treading water; for three days.” 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ’s sake. When I am weak, then I am strong.” How was that possible? How could Paul go through all of that stuff? Let me make a suggestion. He wasn’t home when it happened. He was absent from the body. When we trust Jesus, we’re present with the Lord. Ephesians 1:13&14 tell us that we’ve been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our inheritance. If you are not home when something takes place, you don’t even know it’s going on. Living in the enjoyment of the life of God is His down payment. It’s heaven now. We walk by faith, and not by sight. I’m just suggesting the pilgrim life is a life absent from the body and present with the Lord. If you are really living in union with the Lord Jesus Christ, and somebody messes with you and hurts you and insults you and does something to offend you, if you aren’t home, you aren’t even going to notice it. I’m suggesting that when you live by faith you are absent from the body. That’s the pilgrim life. You are present with the Lord. So, let’s live that way. Someday it will be literal and someday we’ll close our eyes in death and we’ll be forever in His presence.
That’s enough, but it’s an introduction to what we’re about to look at. We have been saved from God and now He’s going to deliver us from Egypt, from the flesh, from the world, from ourselves. We already have the foretaste and we already have the pledge and we already have the earnest and we already have the down payment, and that down payment is far more than we can ever spend in this life. And it’s the Person of the Holy Spirit. We have the Lord Himself.
We come to the next segment in the story and we’re looking now at Exodus 13:17 all the way to when they crossed the Red Sea in 14:20. If you still have that outline we’re on Roman numeral III. I listed quite a few things under there. We’re going to touch on all of those, not necessarily in that order, but generally. Let me begin with what I call the march of victory, and reminding you that Israel as a people were in spiritual slavery and literal slavery for hundreds of years, and they needed to be delivered.
God told Moses when He met him at the bush, Exodus 3:7, “The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.” It wasn’t God’s plan to have Moses lead an insurrection to deliver Israel out of Egypt. He was confused forty years earlier because that’s what he tried to do. He was going to take on the Egyptians one at a time, hoping His people would back him up, and that’s how they would be delivered. God wasn’t going to give a special strategy, so like under a plague of darkness they could sneak out like a prisoner escaping from a prison. That’s not how it would be.
Way back four centuries before God spoke to Abraham and said, Genesis 15:13, “God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward the will come out with many possessions.” That was four hundred years before the fact. You have to ask, “Who is in charge?” We know who is in charge. At the burning bush, before there was any plagues, there was no water turned to blood, no multiplication of frogs or invasion of stinging insects. In verse 21, “I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing, and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.’” At the burning bush God repeated what He had told Abram four hundred years earlier; “You are going out rich, and you are going to plunder the Egyptians.”
Then in Exodus 11:2-3 they did it, “’Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.” The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.” Exodus 12:35-36, look at the very last expression, “Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” Exodus 14:8, “The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly.” They are leaving out boldly. Exodus 13:18, “Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.” That doesn’t mean they were armed or that they had weapons. What it means is that they went out majestically. They went out as conquerors. He always leads us in triumph. They didn’t escape from a prison in the darkness. When they went out they marched out like a conquering army and they spoiled the Egyptians and they took all of their wealth, and they just marched out. It was casual and it was the deliverance of the Lord; One stronger than the strong had overpowered the enemy. When Israel left Egypt it was like an army coming back from a victorious campaign. They had just conquered and they had all of these spoils. I want you to hold that for a moment and we’ll return to it. It’s just an observation.
Another observation that I think will help us is, what was in Pharaoh’s mind when he got the command, “Let my people go.” I believe what was in his mind is in the enemy’s mind, Egyptian mentality, and that every time he hears “let my people go” what that means practically is my flesh. That’s in my mind when I try to break free and serve the Lord and look to the Lord. You’ll see how that is true.
When God met Moses at the burning bush… You have Exodus 3:18 on your notes and that is the exact reference but the verse there is not correct. Let me read Exodus 3:18, “You’ll come to the king of Egypt, and you will say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now please let us go a three day’s journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’” The word was, “Go tell Pharaoh to let the people go for three days; a three day journey into the wilderness.” And when they stood before Pharaoh they repeated this. Exodus 5:3, “Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’” So, in Pharaoh’s mind when he got that command, “Let my people go, for three days.” In his mind it was three days.
That shows as you go through the plagues how stubborn he was. It’s not like it’s to let them go forever, and he’s resisting. It was to let them go for three days. They had been slaves for four hundred years; give them a few days off, a vacation. Of course, it would be about a week because they’d have to get there and come back, and so on. But he refused to do that which shows how stubborn he was. He never intended to let them go forever, even after the tenth plague. He only thought three days, and from his point of view it would be nuts to let two and a half million slave go forever. He’s not going to do that. That was in his mind.
When Moses, through the plagues, emphasizes, “Let my people go,” he doesn’t keep saying, “Three days.” He just says, “Let my people go.” For example, before the plague where the water is turned to blood, he didn’t say to let them go for three days. He just said, “Let them go.” And the second plague with the frogs he didn’t say three days. He said, “Let my people go.” And before the plague of the stinging insects he didn’t say three days. He said, “Let my people go.” But in the middle of that plague, Exodus 8:27, “We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He commands us.” And that’s in Pharaoh’s mind, “I will let them go for three days.” Before the livestock, Exodus 9:1, He just says, “Three days.” Pharaoh never had the idea it would be more than three days. When he was finally forced to let them go, that was the only way he let them go, even for three days. When he was finally forced he finally let them go and acquiesced. But we read that he saw them wandering around. Exodus 14:3, “For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’” That’s not when he changed his mind. He didn’t say, “Look, they’re lost out there; let’s go get them.” That’s not what happened. When did he change his mind and go after them? Exodus 14:5, “When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, ‘What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?’”
When he got the intelligence, the information, “They are not coming back,” that’s when he loaded up, Exodus 14:6&7, “He made his chariot ready and took his people with him’ and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.” Pharaoh never intended to let them go forever. In his mind it was three days and that was it. I’m just suggesting that is Egyptian mentality. The enemy is finally, it doesn’t want to, let you have your little religious experience for a few days, but you are coming back. “They’ll be back in a few days. If not, I’ll make sure that I drag them back.” He doesn’t want to let you go. The flesh doesn’t want to let you go, but sometimes God insists, and so the flesh says, “Alright, but just for a little while.” That’s the mentality of the enemy. It’s a short lived experience, “Go ahead and have your religious experience. If you want to go forward at a meeting, go forward. If you want to sign a card, sign a card. If you want to raise your hand, raise your hand. If you want to cross a line, cross a line. Go ahead, if you are at a camp fire, throw a stick in the fire, make a vow, make a pledge to God.” And the world says, “That will wear off. You’ll soon be back. I have no choice. I have to let you go through that little experience, but go ahead. Dedicate your life and rededicate your life, and start all over again. You are going to be back.” That’s the voice of the flesh before it finally learns how to reckon itself dead. It’s always, “You can have that experience, but it’s not going to last.”
You remember the compromises that Pharaoh tried to make. He said, “Alright, you can go, but don’t go too far. You can go but stay in the land. You can go, but don’t share with your family. You can go, but don’t bring all your property, and don’t go overboard with this whole thing.” Sadly, the church is filled with that Egyptian mentality. Do you know why there are so many revival meetings? There shouldn’t be a revival meeting. Do you know why there are so many revival meetings and so many dedication services and rededicating services? It’s because Egypt has got them back. So they say, “Alright now, we need a rededication. We need you to surrender again. You need to come forward again.” And then after a while, a couple of years, you need to go to a revival because you need to be revived again and you need to start all over again.
I’m not going to repeat my testimony; I’ve told you so many times. But in my early experience it was like I was on a bungee cord. Egypt had me and I jumped off the cliff and then the next thing you know I was right back. I can’t tell you how many times I fell and how many times I repented, and how many times I got better, and how many times I fell again, and back, and I’m listening to all these people tell me, “You aren’t surrendered enough, and you’ve got to surrender more. You’ve got to rededicate your life. You’re holding something back. There’s a secret sin,” and all that kind of thing. I could not surrender any more than I had surrendered. It wasn’t working. I dedicated myself and rededicated myself.
God’s people knew that they were not going to come back. They knew. Pharaoh didn’t know. Egypt has that mentality. Have you ever heard the testimony of Mel Trotter? He was a drunkard. If you look it up it will say “alcoholic”, but he was a drunkard. He wanted so much to get right with God. He could not be delivered from that sin. He was constantly drunk, and so he took a razor and he cut his arm, and he drew blood out his arm, and he wrote a vow in his own blood that he would not drink anymore. And he said that before the blood dried, “I was already drunk again.” It doesn’t work, if it’s not God’s method.
God’s people knew that it was not just for three days. Exodus 6:7-8, “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.” He not only takes us out, but He takes us in. They knew they were going out in order to go in. Exodus 12:25, “When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promises, you shall observe this rite.” Exodus 13:5, the same thing, “It shall be when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivitte, and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month.” Over and over again He reminded the redeemed that it’s more than three days. “You are going three days to worship.” I’m not going to put too much on the three days, but I’m glad He rose on the third day. I have connections there why the three days.
It was not only for three days, otherwise they wouldn’t have taken Joseph’s bones with them. Remember that? Exodus 13:19, “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” At the edge of the Red Sea they got this wonderful word, Exodus 14:13-14, “But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.’” We’re going to return again to that wonderful passage in another connection.
What I’m trying to say is that they are in Pilgrim’s clothes now; all things are new. Their lives are different, and they are realizing eternity pictured by that land. That’s before them, and it’s not going to be real, this deliverance from Egypt, until God takes you and me to the place where we understand how to be free from Egypt, how to be free from me. I’ve got to be delivered from God. There’s no Christian life if I’m not delivered from me. And now we’re going to see the principles of that unfold in this story of Israel being delivered.
So, God’s people now are going to begin a wonderful training. They’ve been saved by power and saved by blood, and they are God’s redeemed people. They belong to Him. They are not their own property. We belong to the Lord. Now they are about to be taught. God is bringing us to a school. Don’t get the idea that we are looking at a people newly redeemed, so these principles apply to new Christians. “I’m an old Christian and these don’t apply to me.” Be careful when you say something like that. The Lord teaches the ABC’s, the elementary things, but the lessons the Lord teaches we need to learn again and again and again. I try to say that I’ve learned something. I try to say that He’s beginning to show me and I’m beginning to learn and I’m starting to learn. How many times I have to learn the same thing again and again. We’ll never leave first love.
Let me ask this question. In this room when is the last time you repeated your ABC’s? When is the last time you sang your ABC’s? The whole point is that you’ll never leave your ABC’s. You use your ABC’s every day in different combinations, in different context and in new relationships and in new connection. I couldn’t talk and you couldn’t talk to me unless you used your ABC’s. You don’t have to keep singing it, but you need your ABC’s. From the time I’m redeemed by power and blood, I cannot leave the foundation, and God is going to continually bring me back to the ABC’s so that I can learn these things. We’re going to look at a couple of lessons that these new Christians had to learn. I hope it’s new in the sense of fresh. I hope you are a new Christian. I hope you are fresh in the Lord, because we need these lessons.
I’d like to go back to the treasures that they got, to show you this first principle. The treasures they got when they left Egypt as conquerors, because there is a valuable principle there on Christian stewardship. I referred to this principle when we looked at the redemption of the donkey, and remember that the donkey represented what was common or unclean. I have to be redeemed and all my property has to be redeemed. I belong to the Lord and everything that is in my possession belongs to the Lord.
Exodus 38:24-25, and we’re going to jump way ahead, but I want you to just pay attention to the loot, to the money. “All the gold was used for the work and all the work of the sanctuary, even the gold of the wave offering, was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. The silver of those of the congregation who were numbered was 100 talents and 1, 775 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary.” There are forty three verses in this chapter, and all it does is mention how much money they had to put into the tabernacle. Commentators say it was tons of gold, tons of silver. Where did they get such wealth to put tons of gold and silver? The veils, the material that they had; they were in the wilderness. Where did they get that? When they fought Midian in the days of Balaam the Bible gives a list of loot they got. They got rich then. Toward the end in the 38th year when they took Og and Sion and sixty cities and they raped the cities, they got all of that loot. But Exodus 40:17, “Now in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected.” It wasn’t from the battle with the Midianites, and it wasn’t from the battle from Og and Sion. They were only two years out when the tabernacle was finished. Where did they get the money? The answer is they spoiled the Egyptians.
I know the Bible gives a couple of records. What are you going to do with tons of gold and tons of silver and material that is going to be used? I don’t read that there was a Walmart in the wilderness or an Amazon. They are going out rich as all get out, and no place to spend it. Don’t just read that “la, la, la”. This is a tremendous thing because it leads to a great principle. I know they made some of the jewelry and hung it from their necks and from their ears and later on they took some of it and made a golden calf. If God dumps tons of gold on you with no place to spend it, wouldn’t that be a burden? They’ve got to carry it around and lug all of that wealth around in the wilderness.
We’re told in Deuteronomy 2:6, “You shall buy food from them with money so that you may eat, and you shall also purchase water from them with money so that you may drink.” This is the Edomites. We know they could use it. They spent about 36 of the 38 wandering years around Edom, so they were people that they could buy from. The main staple of food was manna, but don’t get the idea that was their only source of food. They could also buy food from the Edomites and some of those desert dwellers. The main staple was manna.
Is it possible that what we see here, that God would give you a tremendous provision, whether it’s money or something like that, because you are now a pilgrim and a good steward, so He gives this great provision, and He doesn’t tell you what He has given it for. They didn’t know about the tabernacle. He just gave it to them and said, “Now hang onto it for a couple of years and I might let you know what I’ll do.” They did not know. According to the record they were free to use it. They could buy. Later we’ll see how they wasted some of it when they made that golden calf. I think the principle is wonderfully illustrated. I’m going to jump to the New Testament so that we can see the principle.
Palm Sunday, Luke 19:30-31, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” I would suggest that whatever the Lord has given you, you hold like this, and if you hold it like this, it might be painful when the Lord decides to take it. Hold it like this and then you might hear a word, “The Lord has need of it.” And then He can take it. All things come from Him. 1 Timothy 6:17, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” That is a principle. God gives, and you are free to spend it, and you are free to enjoy it. God has given you provision, and here is His word to you, “Use it for whatever you need, enjoy it, and if I ever want it I’ll let you know.” That is a principle of stewardship.
We hear so much about Christian stewardship and some of it makes my blood crawl. It seems like so much of these principles are designed for people to get their hand in your pocket, pocketbook, wallet or bank account. I have no doubt that some Christians can use instruction financially to keep them from falling in debt, or how to get out of debt. I’m not against that, but the principle for the redeemed pilgrim is this; God has provided everything you have. Use it and enjoy it, and if He wants it, He’ll let you know. That’s so simple. All this teaching about storehouse tithing and seed faith and all of this raising money and all, I don’t think there is a place for it in the pilgrim experience. Owe no one anything except to love one another. If you have debt, don’t let it violate love. That’s all He’s saying. Thank God for His blessing. Use it, enjoy it and stay close to the Lord, and if He says, “Untie it, let it go,” then untie it and let it go. The more you know about relationship with Christ, the more you will be resting on His bosom and you’re ear will be on His heart, and you’ll know when He says, “I want that.” It’s all His and they did not know until He said that I need it. Hold that principle.
The second principle I want to communicate is very close to that. It has the same idea.
“You’re redeemed and you belong to Me and I will let you know if anything I have given you to bless you that you can enjoy, if I want that.” The second is very similar and state it up front, and then try to illustrate it. “You are redeemed and you belong to Me, you and all your possessions are My property, and I will assume the full responsibility to reveal My will to you.” It’s close to this, but a little bit different. Let me try to illustrate that. The principle that we’re about to look at is now illustrated by the glory cloud; remember how He guided them with the glory cloud. When we cross the sea finally, maybe a few weeks from now, we’re going to look at the glory cloud in some detail. But right now it’s introduced. I want to follow the spotlight of the Holy Spirit, and give you this introduction to the glory cloud.
Exodus 13:21-22, “The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” It looks like the Lord used the cloud to guide them day and night, but Exodus 14:19, “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them and the pillar of cloud moved, from before them and stood behind them.” That verse clearly teaches the cloud is the Lord. It’s a cloud, but it’s the Lord. The Lord was their guide. With these eyes they saw the cloud, but in reality it was the Angel of the Lord under the figure of a cloud.
I’m quite certain that most Christians have heard the word “Shekinah”. Shekinah is not in the Bible; that word is not in the Bible. Let me tell you how they came to that word. The Jews, the Hebrews, had a problem. There problem was that they were monotheistic; one God, and that one God is transcendent and He is unlimited, He’s ubiquitous, He’s everywhere and you can’t put limits on God. He’s a spirit without limitations; without boundaries. Solomon said you can’t contain Him. 2 Chronicles 6:18, “But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built.” They couldn’t deal with passages like the cloud. They could say “the breath of God” because that comes out of God. That’s not God; it comes out of God. They could say “the word of God” because that comes out of God and it’s not God. But they had a problem when they came to a study of the cloud or the tabernacle or the temple or the burning bush because it says that His presence filled the tabernacle. How could an omnipresent God get crushed into a little tabernacle? How could all of God fit into a bush? And yet you read, and that was a problem.
So, they came up with a word and the word is Shekinah which means “to dwell”, and means “to rest” and means “to reside within”. That’s what the word means. It was their attempt to take an omnipresent God and put boundaries on Him; put limits on Him. When the unlimited God can be limited, they had a problem, so they said, “That’s got to be Shekinah.” That’s what Shekinah is; when all of God is in one place. How much of God was in the tabernacle? All. How much of God was in the temple. All. How much of God was in the bush. All. How much of God was in the cloud. All. Alright, pull out all the stops and believe this with all your heart. How much of God is in you? You have the Shekinah glory in your heart. I have Shekinah glory; and not some of God. We aren’t sharing it. You don’t have a little piece and I have a little piece. We have all of God in us; the unlimited God lives in this little 215 pound hunk of flesh. I know that because I went to the doctor yesterday.
The cloud is a Person and it’s the Lord Himself. Psalm 23:1-2, don’t ever fall into the habit of substituting a doctrine called “guidance” from a person called the guide. The most important thing you’ll ever know about guidance is the guide. That’s Psalm 23:1-2, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.” He leadeth me.
I’m going to read this and take just a moment. It’s a little lengthy. Exodus 13:17-22, “Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, ‘The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.’ Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”
Let me say first, the way God initially guided them illustrates how He guides, and then a couple of suggestions on why He does it that way. First of all, how did He guide? We’re told by those who are supposed to know that there was a short route to where they were heading that was up north, and a long route. We’re told that God didn’t take the short cut and He took the long cut; that He went down the other way. The way that they could have gone would have taken a couple of weeks. The way they did go took two years. Why did God take the long cut?
He has a reason and I’d like to touch on the principle there. It was confusing for God’s people, not only because they seemed to be going the wrong way, but then when they got to where they thought they were going God said, “Wait. You went too far. Now go back again.” Exodus 14:1, “Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-haniroth, between Migdol and the sea;” Humanly speaking which we’re not there, that was a bad choice. On the level of earth that was a tactical error because that’s what tracked them, and the Egyptians could come.
Let me suggest, because we have been given analytical minds and it’s easier to say 1-2-3, three reasons God did it this way. They needed to be trained. Some would say because of verse 17 that they were there to see war and they would have turned back. Some would say, “The reason why God did it this way was because they were not yet trained for spiritual warfare, and they had to learn first how to walk with God, and then later they could learn spiritual warfare.” That’s not at all what this is saying. They didn’t have to learn about spiritual warfare. They had to learn to trust the Lord, that He was going to fight for them. That’s why He took that other path. We read in verse 19 that Moses had the bones of Joseph with him. They always had that visual aid of, “My great, great, great grandfather trusted God. He believed we were going to the land.” And every time they looked at those bones they’d say, “My ancestors believed,” and that was an encouragement to them.
It’s so wonderful to see Exodus 13:17, “Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, ‘The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt,’” I want to say a word about your God and mine. Yes or no, true or false? God knows everything actual. Yes. God knows everything possible. Yes. That’s amazing. How many possibilities were there in your life since you got up? You went to the bathroom, you brushed your teeth, you ate the food. He knows everything actual and everything possible, and He saw the possibility, it never happened, that they’re going to do that if I take that route, so I’m going to take another route because He knows all things actual and all things possible. We say, “He didn’t take the short route.” The short route to these eyes he didn’t take. To His eyes the short route was the long route, because where is He going? He’s going to take you to the place of helpless dependence, and the shortest path to helpless dependence is the one he’ll take. In your life and in my life He will look at everything actual and everything possible, and then guide you in His way to lead you on the shortest route to total dependence upon Him. This is our God, and He’s going to do that twenty four hours a day. We can pray Matthew 6:13, “Lead us not into temptation,” because we can’t see what is down the road, and that’s why we pray; because He can and He knows all things actual and all things possible.
A second reason He does it way is because it’s redemptive, and in a couple of ways. First of all it seemed contrary to human reason to say, “This must be God’s will. The Egyptians are coming.” Do you know what the Egyptians were doing? Pay attention. They were driving Israel closer and closer to the Promised Land. That’s what your enemy does. We think they’re coming to kill us. They’re not. It’s Joseph’s, “You meant evil; God meant good. You sold me; God sent me.” God is in charge of your life. And it’s redemptive. He uses the enemy to bring you closer and closer to Christ. He’s developing faith. This is a school for pilgrims. He’s teaching us how to trust Him. I’m sure Pharaoh and his army didn’t say, “Let’s drive them closer to the Promised Land.” That wasn’t in their mind. Their mind was to kill and plunder and to destroy.
Not only is it redemptive in that the enemy is driving you closer to the Lord. When we say something is redemptive, here’s what we usually mean; whatever comes into my life is designed to help me be conformed to Christ and to help others to see Christ in my experience. That’s what we mean when we say “redemptive”. But there’s another aspect. Egypt was not only drawing close to them and driving them, but their experience, being trapped, was drawing Egypt into a trap. God was using the redemptive experience of His people because He’s dealing with the enemy and Goliath must go down with Goliath’s sword. And those who dip the net are going to fall into the net and dig the pit and are going to fall into the pit. So, it’s redemptive in that they are driving us to Christ and that we are drawing them into confusion.
Let me close with this. This is the big truth and it’s very much like the principle where you don’t have to learn about storehouse tithing and all of that. God gives you money, use it and enjoy it, and if He needs it, He’ll tell you. Now watch. Exodus 13:21, “The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of ire by night, from before the people.” The Lord was guiding them twenty four seven. He was guiding them day and night because He did not trust those redeemed to discover the way. I hope you hear what I’m saying. That was far beyond them. I’m so glad in my life now, it took a long time, that God didn’t let me discover my own way. Some of you know my little problem about getting lost. I get lost everywhere, and He doesn’t trust me to find the will of God. This is one of the great principles of the Bible, and many Christians don’t know it. There is no excuse for anyone who is a believer not finding the will of God. I’ll tell you why. It’s because if He wants you to know His will He’ll tell you. He has assumed the responsibility. That’s the point of the cloud. He has assumed the responsibility to let you know His will. He has not given you the right to search for His will.
This idea that, “We’ve got to find the will of God,” is so against the Bible, and it’s against the liberty that He’s given you. It’s great news for us that we don’t have to look for the will of God. If He wants you to know it just follow the cloud and live in union with Him. If He wants you to move, He will reveal that to you. That early record of the Shekinah is teaching us that, “I don’t have to go into this terrible battle of where should I go to school, who shall I marry, what job shall I take, what will my vocation be, where shall I live, how shall I handle this, should I bury this car or that car, where should I shop; all of that stuff is flesh. Here is the truth; God has assumed the responsibility that you would know His will. When He wants you to know His will He’ll tell you, and you follow it. It’s the simplest thing. If God wants your money He’ll tell you. If God wants you to do something He’ll show you. If God wants to change your position He’ll lead you. The cloud leads us and all we have to do is to live in an unbroken union with Him. The closer we get to the Lord the more we’re going to know. Come loose him and let him go. He wants that. Untie the donkey and He can have it. It’s His; no problem. I don’t have to go into a crazy search.
Some young people, oh my heart goes out, because I was one of those, and I was desperate, “I need to find God’s will. How can I find God’s will? Does it go against circumstances and does it line up with the Bible and is that the voice of the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit or the human spirit? I’m going crazy trying to find God’s will, and all I needed to do is just wait, and if He wants me to move He’ll tell me. Everything is liberty.
(Question about verse in Malachi) The first principle is that it’s Old Testament, and so the storehouse is not the church, and that’s what people think. They say that the storehouse is the church. The whole idea of tithing is a principle; 10% – He doesn’t need 10%. It’s just a symbol that everything is His. When I’m surrendered to the Lord the heavens will open up and I’ll be blessed.
(Another question – Isn’t there a scripture that says, “If you want to know the will of God, be conformed to the image of Christ.”) That certainly is a teaching. The more you know the Lord (Romans 12:1&2 given as reference by someone).
Let me close with this verse and then we’ll have some more fellowship. Proverbs 3:5&6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not learn on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” He will, He will, He will! We are messengers of the New Covenant and it’s grace. We have the word “gospel” and it means “good news”. Our message has no bad news. It’s all good news, and I pray that if you ever come and sit before anything I say, you are going to hear good news. It’s going to be Gospel. It’s liberty and it’s designed to set you free. Every time God shows a truth, in some way you are set free.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word. Thank You for making it so simple and assuming all the responsibilities, dumping on us such wealth and wisdom, and Lord just taking the responsibility to let us know our part and your timing. And so we just ask you to work these things in our heart and we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
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