What would it have been like to be with Moses and the Israelites between Egypt and Canaan? If ever there was a time when the direction of the Lord was clear, it was then. By day the Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud and by night in a pillar of fire. “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Exodus 13:22).
Before we start longing for that day of such an obvious manifestation of the Lord’s presence with His people, we must remember that the Israelites were still a “stiff-necked, rebellious people” who grumbled at every inconvenience! Our desire is certainly for clear direction from the Lord but even more so for His presence to accompany us as we proceed, for His character to reveal itself through the faithfulness of His people.
At one point, Moses said to the Lord, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). I share that sentiment entirely! Since God has brought us a long way in ministry over the past few years, it is crucial for us to continue to go with Him. We dare not venture out alone in ministry. If we are not led specifically by the Lord, we will of necessity pray “Do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not by Thy going with us so that we, I and Thy people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16).
How, then, can we be led by the Lord? No clouds or pillars of fire present themselves to us. But in these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son. In Christ Jesus we are led with assurance both of His direction and of His abiding presence! When we abide in Him, the Vine, we as branches will bear much fruit giving further confirmation in the changed hearts and lives of people touched by Christ that He goes before us and with us.
More days of stretching and growing are before this body of believers. We will follow wherever He leads. We will wait until He does lead and then with the boldness, power, and authority of a people who bear the name of the King of Glory, we will not be diverted by lesser callings!
He still leads with clarity today in His Son, by His Word, through His Spirit. With the evidence of His presence and the promise of His presence, we must keep our focus on our exalted Head so that His name is held in honor by all who recognize His presence among His people.