The Pillar Of Cloud And Of Fire
Exodus 13:21 – 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:
Exodus 13:22 – He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Hello readers, back with a new blog today. I’ve recently returned to work after a few weeks off. Thus, there has been less time to write a new blog! I’ve always got more to write about than time to write them! I do have some other blogs on my mind, but today I’ve settled on the pillar of cloud and fire that God gave the children of the Israel to lead them after they left Egypt. What does the pillar of cloud and of fire mean? How is that pillar significant or even relevant to me today? I wish I had a fiery cloudy pillar, but I do, and you do too.
Websters 1828 dictionary defines “pillar” as “a supporter; that which sustains or upholds; that on which some super structure rests”. With the word pillar comes the idea of foundation, something upon what everything else relies upon and rests, a support, a monument. Well today, of course, we are going to see that the pillar of cloud and of fire is a picture of the word of God. It’s a picture of the Holy Bible, and if you are truly saved, you do have that pillar, God has given you that pillar to look unto for guidance, direction and leading in life.
The word of God is the pillar of the Christian faith. Without it, we have nothing, and today you see many Christians who have no pillar. They have no foundation. The foundation was knocked out when they sold out for new Bibles, the foundation was knocked out as the authority, the preservation, the inspiration, and the infallibility of scripture was eroded in their minds. Jacob built a pillar when he met God, he had found a pillar of truth to build his life upon. Have you found the word of God to be your pillar? When are we going to build our pillar upon the word of God? A Christianity not founded upon God’s word has no foundation, it has no pillar.
God’s word is a monument to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is his book. It is the book about him. It’s the book where we meet him. It’s the book where he speaks to you, and we hear him. God spoke out of the cloud that he gave to the people, and if you want God to speak to you today, he will meet you in his word. He won’t meet you anyplace else. The Lord was IN the pillar. The Bible is the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is the foundation of our faith. The Bible says “if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Of course, the answer is… you can do nothing. If your Christianity wasn’t seeded by the word of God, if it wasn’t founded by the word of God, and if your faith doesn’t rest upon God’s word… you’ve got nothing. And your house and your life is bound to fall flat one day, just like when Samson shoved the pillars of the Philistine house over, your pillars are going to get knocked out be sure of that.
Not only is the pillar a picture of God’s word though, it is also a picture of the Holy Spirit leading believers in perfect accordance and harmony with God’s word. The Holy Spirit and God’s word work together, not apart, never apart. The way the Holy Spirit moves, leads, guides and directs our lives is based on God’s word. We live in a Christianity today that has divorced the “Spirit” from the word. They’ve divorced the moving of the Holy Spirit from the foundation and authority of the word of God and the result is a mess. As Jude says, they don’t have the Spirit. They have a spirit, not the Holy Spirit of God, who always and only honours the word of God. He was given as the Comforter to us to that exact purpose and end, Jesus said so, and it hasn’t changed, no matter how hip a religion you’ve got.
It’s a wonderful picture, the pillar. It’s a wonderful way to learn more about God and his word. How good is it to have a pillar upon which you can lean on, rely on, depend upon, found yourself on. When there’s so much instability, uncertainty, lies, and shifting sand of everyone’s ideas, theories and opinions… we have a pillar that’s given to us from God. Divinely given, it’s a divine book, and that was a divine pillar. God was in it.
People reckon there’s no grace in the Old Testament, but that’s a lie. This pillar was given them by the grace of God toward them. And it is God who has made sure that his word is available to us today. He’s always ensured we’ve got the Bible, despite all the opposition to it throughout history, despite all the persecution, God’s word has prevailed. It’s because God has prevailed. When God gave us his word though, instead of being thankful, many departed from it, and that’s why we will be held so very desperately accountable for the great grace that has been bestowed upon us, which we have proven ourselves to despise and be found in contempt of.
When you have God’s word as your pillar, then you can also become a pillar. Paul said Peter, James and John were pillars of the early church. They were important people. People looked to them for truth, wisdom, light. It wasn’t because they were so great, but it’s because their lives were founded on God’s word. And thus they, like we should be as well, could be pillars upon which others could lean upon and look to. They were men who could stand up and be counted.
We’ve got a pillar, and we can also be a pillar to others. We can be pillars in God’s house, pillars to God’s glory. We can be a monument, testimony and witness to the Lord who founded us. Us believers do have a role to play, to radiate Christ’s light. It’s not we are a pillar, but when we have the pillar in us, we are pillars for God. It is God in us is who makes us pillars. You know, God was in and spoke out of the cloud… but in these last days, he dwells in our hearts. That’s the grace that has been given us that so many before us longed to see, which also the angels desire to look into.
The Bible says the church should be the pillar and ground of truth. See, when a church is founded upon God’s word, it’s a pillar of God to society, to the community, to this dark world. It’s a place, a refuge to which the seeking and the lost can flee to and find bread. But where churches should be pillars… they’re instead good for nothing. They lost their purpose when they abandoned their foundation and their God. Now they’re a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife. See, whereas churches should be a pillar and ground of truth, instead all churches show is that they don’t have God. Lot’s wife’s life was only good as a warning of what not to do, rather than what to do. All that’s written on many church doors is Ichabod rather than Immanuel. People go to churches and see there’s nothing to it, there’s no foundation there.
God gave the children of Israel the pillar after the blood of the Passover lamb was shed. You do not get the Holy Spirit until the blood of Christ is applied to your life by faith. Until you get saved, you literally won’t get it. They changed the Bible not because they couldn’t understand it, because they did not have the Spirit with which to understand it. Before you’re saved, God’s word is nothing to you. But after you’re saved, it becomes everything to you. It becomes the centerpiece of your salvation and walk of life. The very first thing the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer is points you to God’s word, and keeps pointing you there. He ministers the word to you. He gives you a hunger and desire for God’s word, because God’s word is how you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is interesting that the pillar was different in the day to the night. God’s word is relevant and important in every situation and circumstance of life. We all are at different places and times in our life, but God’s word is equally sufficient. To those in darkness, you need light. To those in the day, you need to move and be led. It was a pillar of cloud by day. I often thought about that cloud. Why did it have to be a cloud. But the Bible is a cloud to us. We walk by faith, and not by sight remember. There are many things obscured to us, that we don’t see yet. God was in the cloud, but all the saw was the cloud. The only revelation of God out of the cloud was his word. The thing is, we don’t see Christ yet. I haven’t seen Jesus Christ yet, I only see the cloud. But I trust what he says out of the cloud in his word.
The cloud is significant on so many levels. It led them, but they didn’t necessarily understand where he was taking them. All they did was followed where God was taking them. Often we don’t understand how God is working in our life. It’s all a bit clouded to us. But in the cloud, listen to the voice in the cloud. Remember the clouds in the gospels, and the voice of God they heard out the cloud that bore witness of Jesus Christ. We are not required to understand and know everything, and faith and obedience doesn’t required us seeing it all, knowing it all. But the cloud was above them, and until you realize God’s word is above you, high above you, far greater than you, in authority over you… you’ll be going nowhere.
But there was glory in the cloud. There’s glory in the Bible. And there’s glory in believers who are in the Bible. It’s written on their face, because it’s written in their hearts. As you read the Bible, God writes his law in your heart. That’s why you love to read it, because that’s what the Holy Spirit does. That’s when you understand Psalm 1. There’s glory in a church who holds to the old book. It’s the book who’s word and exceeding great and precious promises cause us to rejoice in a Saviour and hope not seen yet. There’s a glory that comes into our lives when we get in the Bible, the word washes us, cleanses us, and you come down like Moses from the mountain glowing. There’s a glow about a true believer that nobody else has.
The pillar was where God dwelt and where God spoke to them. Think about this though. This is critical. God was IN the cloud. God spoke OUT of the cloud. God is found in his word. That’s where you find him. You can seek him and be ever learning forever… but you’ll never find God until you have the hearing of faith. You find God, and God meets you in his word. The Holy Spirit moves upon the word of God, just like the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters in Genesis. The book has got plenty of water for the thirsty soul. So many people though, they think they can know God and have a relationship and fellowship with him outside his word. They don’t need the cloud. They don’t need to listen to the cloud. So many people try and serve God, or think they serve God, or think they know him… but they’re apart from God’s word. The reality is, you won’t know him, you won’t see him, you won’t hear him until you believe the Bible. You find God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you can’t introduce people to God without going through the pages of scripture to find him.
All the cloud required was faith. They didn’t necessarily understand or see, and in fact, where that cloud led them challenged them. They come to the Red Sea, and start blaming Moses because the Egyptians are after them, and it looks like the cloud has led them to a dead end. The cloud’s made a mistake. The cloud’s betrayed us. The cloud can’t be trusted. Many people think that of God’s word. Do you trust the Bible with your decisions in life? Do you trust God’s ways when your ways are better? Do you trust God’s thinking when you think you know more? The reality is most people don’t like how the cloud is leading. They don’t want the journey that the cloud is taking them. They don’t want to have to just follow. They want to lead, they want to go where they think they can get to. Oh God, thanks for the deliverance, but I’ll take it from here.
The cloud is a picture of the Bible furthermore because in Hebrews 11, the Bible says we are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses. You know, the Bible is a book of witnesses. Think about it… many different authors, many different lives, many different times… but the same God, the same Holy Spirit, the same gospel, the same salvation. It’s hard enough nowadays to get two people to agree on anything, we have a whole book full of the agreeance of so great a cloud of witnesses. If you are looking for evidence… the Bible is the evidence. You’ve got evidence for days. We are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses it has left us with no excuse, no justification to coming to the end of our life unbelieving and Christ rejecting. You are without excuse. I am without excuse. You won’t go to hell without having had the ability to be saved. You’re surrounded by the cloud of witnesses, what are you going to do with what that cloud is saying to you?
But where the pillar was cloud by day, it was fire by night. That’s interesting. In the night time it was a burning fire. A fire that kept burning but never burnt itself out. God’s never burnt out, and his word will never burn out on you. The Bible says it was fire by night to give them light. Picture that, nighttime in the wilderness. But God doesn’t want his people in darkness. Remember, Jesus is the light of the world. If you need light, God’s word is where the light is. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Everything the Bible gives us is light. Light on what the truth is. Light on who God is. Light on what is right and what is wrong. Light on what God has said. Light on how to live my life. Light on what spouse to choose. Light for decisions that I have to make. God’s word is light. We are in the darkness of this world, yet we can have the light of life. God’s grace!
The thing about fire is that it consumes, and God burns up our self righteousness, he burns up all our fleshly garbage. That’s why people don’t want to get close to God, because everything vain and sinful in their life burns up before him. God’s word convicts, reproves, rebukes, exhorts. People don’t want that. Don’t get too close to the fire. The people said to Moses, hey you go and speak to God, and come back with what he’s said, we can’t endure what he’s saying. God’s word is a fire, and it’ll light the fire, it’ll start the fire in your life. It’ll start a fire in your home, in your marriage, in your workplace, in this world. If you’re after the old fire, not the strange fire that Aaron’s sons had and offered, but the old tried and tested and pure fire of God burning bright… God’s word is where the old fire is.
The fiery pillar was a monument to the holiness, the perfection, the judgment, and the righteousness of God. The Bible says our God is a consuming fire. Elijah prayed for fire, and the fire of heaven came down and showed who the true God was to Israel. See, God’s word, the Bible, the truth… proves itself. God’s word is with power. You stick with the Bible, and you’ll have power.
You know, in the day of judgment, fire is what is going to try us. What will remain? What can remain? As Peter wrote, if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly appear? If you don’t have Christ, you will have nothing remain, not even your life and soul. The fire of God often burned among the people because they transgressed and went into sin constantly. The fire burned in the camp. God’s word is a fire. Why isn’t it burning in the camp of the Christians dealing with sin and disobedience today? Why is there no power? Because the pillar of fire isn’t there in their night. They’re more like the Egyptians. Remember, that pillar was darkness to the Egyptians, but light to the Hebrews.
So the pillar led the children of Israel, but then the Egyptians came out to get them. The Egyptians are after you. You have enemies, you’ll need protection and deliverance. Your flesh, this world, Satan is coming for you. He wants you back. And that pillar moved around behind them to protect them from Pharaoh’s army. Believing God’s word, obeying God’s word, making decisions in life based on God’s word… that’s where our safety, security and protection is as Christians. When you decide you know better than the Bible, and you leave the word of God going your own way, when you know better than what God has said to do, don’t cry when your life gets laid waste by the Egyptians. The only thing standing between Israel and the Egyptians was that pillar protecting them. God was protecting them. You take yourself out of his protection like Dinah when she left her father and twelve brothers looking for some experiences and adventures with the other cuties of the land, and she messed her life up. So many times we think we know better, but the fact is… we don’t. We are likened unto sheep for a reason, they’re pretty dumb animals… and honestly speaking, we all are pretty dumb at the best of times.
Often we think God is pretty static. It doesn’t seem like he’s moving. But that pillar moved around pretty good didn’t it. God was moving. God will move in your life when you get in his word. You can go somewhere in life with God. God’s word isn’t archaic and out of date and irrelevant, no, it’s so far ahead of you it’s dizzying. God knows the future, he knows what’s ahead, and he knows what’s behind. God knew everything. He knew how to deliver the people, how to guide them, how to provide for them, where to take them, how to take them. He’s got your front and your back. He’s got where you can’t see forward nor what you can’t see coming at you from an angle you never saw coming.
What’s also interesting is that the pillar separated Israel from the Egyptians. If there’s one thing the old book does is it separates people out. Jesus said he came not to send peace, but a sword, and that believing on and following him would cause division right to the family level. Furthermore, the Bible divides even to the soul and spirit. God’s word will divide between sheep and goats, wheat and tares, light and darkness, truth and live, good and evil. There is a separation that happens in a believer from their old life, this world, lies, compromise… the lot. God’s word is a point of separation. If you ever decide to believe the Bible, you’ll notice it will become the division point between you and friends and family. That’s what happens. The pillar separated, God’s word separates, and the Holy Spirit’s work is to separate us out unto God, that’s what sanctification is. You see, this pillar was given to guide a people who God had called out for himself, a nation that would follow his word, obey his laws, and walk in his ways, and go where he told them to go.
Where was Moses in all this? Well, we know God spoke out of this cloud to Moses. Moses wasn’t greater than the cloud, he had to listen and to follow just like the rest of them. Contrast that to teachers and preachers and so called prophets today who have completely left God’s word. They exalt their philosophies, wisdom, ideas and advice far above and in contradiction to God’s word. So many scholars and experts, big shots to whom people look for guidance and direction, they don’t follow the cloud, they’re making their own path. Moses listened to what God said out the cloud, and he conveyed it to the people, word for word. He obeyed God’s word, that’s why he’s one of the greatest men in the Bible, that’s why he was able to deliver God’s people. Not because he was great, but the word of his God was great.
This pillar took them to the promised land. How are you going to make it to Canaan without the pillar? Without God’s work you aren’t going to even begin your journey, let alone make it to a place you haven’t even seen before. God was leading them to a land flowing with milk and honey, a good land. But all they knew was Egypt. God was seeing the future they couldn’t see, he even was discerning the thoughts of those in the camp. God’s word discerns YOU before you discern it.
Without the pillar they had no idea what direction to go or how to get there. They were going to be in wilderness… that’s tough terrain, they were going to be going through enemy territory, that’s pretty tough too. It’s not like they were experts in combat, they were just a bunch of freed slaves, not expert fighters. How did they even know where to go and how to get there? God’s word saw that place for them that they did not see yet. God’s word will reveal things to you that you have never seen before. It will take you to the place that you need to be that God knows and sees and has prepared for you just by obedience. I can’t see where to go in life, can you? Do you know the future? How do you make decisions not knowing the future? Just trust God’s word. I don’t even know what’s best for myself, God knows what’s best for me.
That pillar never failed them. It never lied to them. It never made a mistake and had to reroute. People have such a low opinion of God’s word now. They think God’s an idiot. Like he can’t even communicate clearly, truthfully and effectively with his own creation. We’ve reduced the image of God so far down to our level he goes along with our sin, he panders to our wickedness. We’ve made God as dumb as those idols they served that they had to pack up, stand up, set up, prop up. So many people are not being led by the cloud and the fire. This pillar never once failed them that whole journey. It was with them every day faithfully until they made it. God’s word is faithful to you, because he is faithful to you. God doesn’t let you down. It guided them home. If you think you’re trying to make it to your home in heaven, trusting God’s word is the only way you’ll get there. You go your way, you won’t make it.
Think about this. All that was required of the children of Israel was faith. God provided the pillar. God was in the pillar. God moved before them and behind them in the pillar. All they had to do was follow. All they had to do was trust his leading, his direction, trusting their future and their lives with God. Why is it that hard for us to follow him? It was hard for the children of Israel, look at all they got up to out in the wilderness. It was hard, because they still loved their sin. They had the pillar leading them, but inside they lusted after flesh, inside they were full of adultery and fornication. Until God’s word goes from out there, to in your heart, you aren’t likely to want to follow him. We need to pray for a new heart that desires the sincere milk of the word, that then grows up on the meat, that then grows into a well founded and well grounded child of God.
God still moves in his word today. He moved IN the pillar. God was IN the pillar. God is found IN his word. That’s where the glory is. It was for all seasons, all times. The Bible is relevant to every area of our life, in every spot in life we are in. It’s for those in light and in darkness. It’s just as needed on the mountain or in the valley. Keep your eyes fixed on the pillar, for when you do, your eyes will be fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Author sounds like a book term doesn’t it. The Bible has an author, and that author is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Their journey started with the pillar, and it finished with the pillar. God’s word will take you to Canaan land, he’ll take you to the land of promise. All they had to do was to trust him. God didn’t take away that pillar from before the people, and God still hasn’t changed today, it’s still by faith in his word. It’s still the same old faith, and still the same old salvation. That’s how you’ll make it. Look to that fiery cloudy pillar of God’s word in your life today, and he’ll move in your heart and your life just as he did, just as he always has. He is faithful and true.
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Joseph View All →
Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 32 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)
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