I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Exodus 13:17-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Pillars of Cloud and Fire
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.[a] The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. 19 And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.” 20 They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
In our reading for today we have part of the story of God’s guidance for the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land of Canaan. The Exodus is the salvation event of the Hebrew Scriptures. God led the people for forty years across a hostile desert, being directed when to move and where to go by “a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light.” It could not have been clearer—day or night. Do you long for that kind of guidance sometimes? Does God guide us today? Maybe the follow-up question is, are we willing to follow God’s leading?
There’s no pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire, but I believe God does guide us today, if we are willing to follow the lead.
God guides us sometimes through intuition or our God-given gift of reason. Note verse 17 of Exodus 13: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, ‘If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.”‘ God enabled them to see the dangers if the Israelites took the most direct route.
God guides us through the words of scripture. The Bible does give us guidance and wisdom for living abundant lives. The words of scripture show us the life and teaching of Jesus who calls us to follow in his way.
God guides us through other people—parents, grandparents, other family members, caring friends, and the community of faith.
God guides us through that still, small voice we sometimes hear when we listen in prayer.
God guides us as we move forward with trust. There is a time for moving forward, even when we are uncertain. In Exodus 14, verse 15, God says to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to get moving.” It is as though God is saying, “It’s time to quit praying and get moving.”
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster