I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: Exodus 13:17-22
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
Our reading for today is 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.” This guidance could not have been clearer — by day or night.
Do you ever long for that kind of guidance? Does God guide any of us like that 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.
Sometimes God’s guidance comes through our 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 the people to see the dangers if the Israelites took the most direct route.
God also guides us through the words of scripture. In addition to giving 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.”
Hymn Suggestion: “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”
by John Newton (1779)
Glorious things of you are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed you for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake your sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
you may smile at all your foes.
See, the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply your sons and daughters
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
ever will their thirst assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the giver,
never fails from age to age.
Round each habitation hov’ring,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a cov’ring,
showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from their banner
light by night and shade by day,
safe they feed upon the manna
which he gives them on their way.
Savior, since of Zion’s city
I thro’ grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in your name.
Fading are the world’s vain pleasures,
all their boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasures
none but Zion’s children know.
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture. I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster