Following the cloud of God is what we are to look at today.
I believe God guides us, sometimes dramatically, sometimes subtly, for us as a church and as individuals and families, we need to seek and then follow God’s leading and guidance. Like Abram, sometime we must physically move in obedience to move towards our destiny, but how can we know when we are to do this? Timing is huge, but obedience is everything. Here’s an account of another people in the move.
Exodus 40:34-38 (ESV)
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
The people of Israel had escaped Egypt. They had seen the miracles, the plagues, and the passover. They had fled the tyranny and oppression of the evil Pharaoh, but then they found their way forward blocked by the Red Sea.
They were between a rock and a hard place, jammed in with nowhere to go and no chance of survival. They were a terrified, confused and hopeless people, but God was right there with them.
So what did the pillar of cloud and fire represent?
1. THE CLOUD SHOWS GOD’S PRESENCE
Exodus 13:22 (ESV)
The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
God had revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush and He revealed Himself to the whole nation as a pillar of fire at night, and a pillar of cloud in the day. Was God with them? Just look at the cloud.
Today God does not hang around us as a column of cloud or fire, but those of us who know Him can sense His presence right her right now.
Exodus 33:14-15 (ESV)
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he (Moses) said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
And that’s where we are at as a church. We recognise that God’s presence is here, we see His miracles regularly in our lives, but we need God to lead us. We know we don’t fit. But I crave God’s guidance, not just a good idea.
Psalms 16:11 (ESV)
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The Israelites looked up and saw the presence of God, and it must have given them faith for the future. They must have been reassuring signs to a throng of escaped slaves that their God was present and actively intervening to lead them through the wilderness.
2. THE CLOUD SHOWS GOD’S PROMISES
God had made promises to His chosen people, but like many promises they depended upon the people being obedient. Specifically God had promised to guide them out of slavery and into their future, to their Promised Land. God promised,
Exodus 3:8 (ESV)
and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
And God has promised us a Promised land too. His promises are yes and amen
2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV)
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
I believe that God is leading us right now into His promises for us and an incredible destiny in 2021. Like the People of Israel, we need to follow the cloud, and let the pillar of fire Ignite our faith.
3. THE COULD SHOWS GOD’S PROTECTION
If we move forward in obedience, we must believe God will not abandon us. I sense for us the cloud is moving right now, and I refuse to believe that God will let us down! God protected the Israelites, and He will also protect His people at Ignite!
Faced with the Egyptian army bearing down on them, with their back against the Red Sea, the people were terrified, but
Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)
Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
So what did God do?
Exodus 14:19-21 (ESV)
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
The cloud moved behind the people, protection them from the enemy while God arranged things. And when you step out and follow God, He will lead you, but He will protect you too! The prospect of moving from this premises to somewhere else is scary, but if God is God and we obey Him, His promises are sure and we need fear nothing.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
4. THE COUD SHOWS GOD’S PROVISION
God leads, He protects, He guides, but He also provides. Once they passed through the Red Sea on dry land, once they saw the enemy destroyed, once they experienced the miracle of protection and salvation, that was not the end, it was the beginning. They had to keep trusting, and keep following the cloud and fire into the unknown.
Think about how God provided for His people. In the desert, the sun is scorching, but a cloud shields you from its powerful heat. The nights are freezing, but a pillar of fire provides both heat and light. God and His presence provided so much for His people.
Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
As we step out in faith to follow the Lord into our promised land, we can trust that God will supply our every need. Money, renovations, people, Council, God will not fail us. And as you live for Him, God will not fail you!
5. THE CLOUD SHOWS GOD’S PRECEDENCE
When God leads us, He goes before us. I’m not afraid of money, loans, council or anything else, but I am afraid of stepping away from God’s will. So as they faced a long journey to their promised land, what did the Jewish people see.
Exodus 40:36-38 (ESV)
Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
For us as a church, this is the most exciting time. We need to move, but we need to seek the Lord. About when and how this is to happen. Right now the cloud is rumbling, and we need to get ready to move.
FOLLOW THAT CLOUD!
Did you know that scientists discovered that a dense fog of one acre and 100 feet deep contains only a glass full of water. It’s dispersed into 600 billion tiny droplets. God used a glass of water to lead, protect, guide and provide for His people. As one raindrop said to the other, 2 is company, 3’s a cloud. God uses clouds, and fire at times to protect, lead and provide for His people.
On 23rd May 1940 King George called the people of Britain to pray. Troops were stranded facing certain destruction at Dunkirk in France. Churches were overflowing with people praying for safety and Deliverance, and 3 things occurred. Hitler inexplicably paused the Nazi assault, allowing troops time to make it to the beach. God then stepped in, and sent an inexplicable cloud cover, shielding the fleeing troops from Luftwaffe attacks, and the sea, inexplicably became as smooth as glass, allowing 800 small vessels to ferry 338,000 troops back to England. It was called by Churchill, “The Miracle of Dunkirk,” and God used a cloud to protect and a provide for His people.
Exodus 13:21-22 (ESV)
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
He did it at Dunkirk, He did it for the people of Israel, and He will do it for us. The cloud is moving, and we need to faithfully follow that cloud!
God provided His presence, His promises, His protection and His provision, and then He preceded the people of Israel with cloud and with fire. And He is doing that right now for Ignite.
As I said last week, we could easily sit squashed but comfortably in our Haran, but I believe God has more for us. The Lord has called us to be salt and light to our community, and if moving venue would make us more effective, I’m in!
The pillar of cloud and fire is moving for us, and the miracle is about to unfold.