“…For with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:9b)
As we come to the conclusion of Exodus chapter 13, the stage is now set for the realization of God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt into the Land of promise. After being saved by the blood of the Passover lamb, the Hebrews will be delivered from bondage by the mighty hand of God. Two aspects connected with God’s redemption are seen here in the Old Testament:
Back in Genesis 50:25, Joseph gave instructions to the children of Israel to carry along his bones into the Land of promise in the day that God would visit them. Just as his father, Jacob, had before him, Joseph did not wish for his body to stay in the land of Egypt, but desired for his remains to be taken into the land of Israel, the land that God had promised beforehand (Gen. 47:29).
“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.” (Hebrews 11:22)
Apparently, the instructions for his bones to be taken with the children of Israel when they came into the Promised Land was not a mere sentimentality but was, according to the writer to the Hebrews, an act of faith. Joseph took God at His word when He promised to give the land of Canaan as “an eternal possession” to the children of Abraham (Gen. 17:18). Joseph understood that the destiny of the Hebrew people was in the land of Palestine, not in the land of Egypt.
Joseph believed that God would one day raise his body and that his body should be in the Land of Promise when God resurrected it. The idea that God will one day raise His own – that death itself is not permanent for those belonging to the Lord — is not a uniquely New Testament concept. Even Martha, the sister of Lazarus, demonstrated this belief when she told the Lord Jesus that she knew her brother would one day live again (John 11:24).
Resurrection is an inextricable aspect of God’s redemption of man in both the Old Testament and the New. For what lasting hope is there in deliverance from the afflictions of this life if the ultimate destiny of man is death? If our short time on this earth is all that we may look forward to, then what solace may be found in any fleeting joy we might experience in the here and now? Or, as the Apostle Paul put it: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).
The image of Moses, God’s instrument of deliverance, exhuming the body of Joseph and carrying it into the Land of Promise is a perfect portrait of Christ raising the body of the believer at the Rapture. Death could not prevent God’s promise to Joseph from being fulfilled, nor can death separate the Christian from abiding forever with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:38-39).
Leading Of The Spirit
“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: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” (Exodus 13:21-22)
The imagery and symbolism of the Holy Spirit, leading the Hebrews, cannot be missed here. There went before them a Presence, and that Presence is called the Lord God Himself (Jehovah). The Holy Spirit appears often in Scripture in the form of a cloud. For instance, at the Mountain of the Transfiguration, a bright Cloud appears to the awestruck disciples and the voice of God the Father speaks from within It (Matt. 17:5). In Acts 1:9, a Cloud receives the Lord Jesus Christ at His Ascension, the Cloud of the Presence of God’s Spirit.
Fire is another symbol associated with the Holy Spirit. The most obvious, of course, being the cloven tongues like fire that rested upon the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit was given to the Church (Acts 2:3). Finally, the symbols of Fire and Cloud are tied together with the Holy Spirit in the ordnance of Baptism. As John the Baptist pointed out that Jesus would be the One Who would baptize those belonging to Him with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16), we see a foreshadowing of this in the “baptism” of the Hebrews under this Pillar of Cloud (1 Cor. 10:1-4).
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
Those whom God redeems, God leads. God has never saved anyone only to let them feel around in the dark, hoping to find the path that He wishes them to walk upon. The Lord led the children of Israel by His very Presence, the Holy Spirit. He leads the Christian by the same Means. Though there are distinctions between the Pillar of Cloud and Fire and the indwelling Holy Spirit, it is the same Spirit leading the believer in Christ that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. The Hebrews had the benefit of being led by the visible Presence of God, the Shekinah Glory, manifested in the Pillar. The Christian is led by that “still, small voice”, the invisible Presence of God’s indwelling Spirit. At first glance, the visible Presence would seem to be preferred, yet even so, our Lord told Thomas: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Aside from the distinctions, there are similarities and even lessons that we can learn about the nature of the Holy Spirit’s guidance from His leading of the Israelites. First we see that the Spirit of the Lord went before them. God never leads His people to a place where He has not already been. In that He goes before us, we can be comforted in knowing that He will still be there when we arrive. No matter how terrifying, how dark, how cold and remote the place is where the Lord leads us , He goes there before us.
He leads by night and by day. God neither sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4), He takes no break from leading His people. The Holy Spirit is available to guide His people at all hours. And, as we are told in Exodus 13:22, God took not away the Pillar from before the people. Though they doubted God and His appointed representative, Moses, though they murmured, complained, and were rebellious at heart, God never removed His Presence from before them. Even the most back-slidden Christian can follow God’s Spirit, if they should choose to. God’s people are not lost and wandering because God is not leading them, but because they have ceased to follow. The Christian who is out of fellowship with the Lord has become so, not because God has stopped leading them, but because they have stopped listening and following.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,