The Presence of God
As the children of God left the land of Egypt, we are told in Exodus 13:21-22, "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people."
As they entered into freedom, God's people desperately needed guidance so they could be the nation God wanted them to be. But, not only did they need guidance, the people who had just been weakened by slavery needed to know that they were not alone as they began this uncertain quest. Which direction should they take? What new enemies might lie ahead? Could they overcome them?
God gave them a physical manifestation of His presence to assure them in this new period of their history. The pillar of cloud and fire communicated several things: I AM here-you are not alone; I know where I am going-I will take you where you need to go; and, Don't be afraid-I will protect you. Every night before the Hebrew father closed the flap to his family's tent, he saw the flaming pillar and knew God was with him and his family. Every morning when the same flap was opened and the cloud hung in the sky before, he could face the day with confidence.
Wouldn't it be nice to see such a cloud today? Make no mistake about it, we need assurance of God's daily presence with us no less than God's people of old. Our days can be dark; our path ahead uncertain; our enemies all around us. Left to our own strength and protection, the only thing we are confident in is our own failure. However, the Bible gives us a wonderful promise in Hebrews 13:5, "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Though the future is uncertain and dangers unknown, of this we can be assured if we are Christians: we are never alone. While we don't have a cloud before us, we have the promise of God in His word.
If there is a physical manifestation today of God's presence with us, it is His word-the Bible. With the Bible, He guides us everyday. He tells us what is right and what is wrong; He tells us how to live our lives in relation to others; and, importantly, He tells us how to live our lives in relation to Him. "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes," Psalm 19:8.
So, if you are a Christian, know that God has promised you will never be alone. He is always there. How do you know that? Can you see a cloud? No, He has promised it to you-and that is just as certain.