Adapted from Walk On Resource Book (Faith Alive, 2007)
Focus: By reading the Bible, we learn more about God, God’s story, and God’s people.
Background: Exodus 14
In the book of Exodus we read about a journey that the people of Israel took. I think maybe a lot of these people were nervous about this. They had never left Egypt before. And now, there they were, leaving Egypt, following Moses.
But they were doing more than following just Moses. We read that as the people were walking, the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud during the day to guide them and a pillar of fire at night to give them light. They could travel by day or by night because of the pillar of cloud and fire. The Bible tells us that the pillar of cloud and fire was always near the people of Israel. In fact, it stayed with them for their entire journey to the promised land—and that journey took them more than 40 years! Israel always knew that God was with them because the pillar of cloud and fire was there. They could see it.
The pillar of cloud and fire was still pretty new to the people of Israel when Pharaoh, who told them to leave Egypt, changed his mind and decided he wanted them to return. Pharaoh said, “What were we thinking, letting all those people leave? We made a hasty decision. Let’s get them back.” So he took his army along with 600 chariots and went after the people of Israel.
Now, Israel didn’t have an army of their own. They were just a bunch of people who had picked up their belongings and followed Moses. They were no match for Pharaoh and the army of Egypt. When God’s people saw the Egyptians coming, they were afraid. Not only that, but the pillar of cloud had led them to a dead end. On one side of the people was the army of Egypt and on the other side was the Red Sea. Things didn’t look very good for Moses and the people that he was leading.
But then an amazing thing happened. The cloud that had been in front of them—the cloud that showed them that the Lord was guiding them—that cloud moved and went behind the people so that it was between the army of Egypt and people of Israel. The Bible says that throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the Egyptian side and light to the Israelite side. Neither group went near the other.
Sometime during that night, Moses raised up his staff, and a powerful wind came and made the waters of the Red Sea part so that Israel could walk across on dry ground. The Egyptians couldn’t see them because it was dark and the cloud was in the way.
But in the morning the Egyptians finally saw that the people of Israel were on the other side of the Red Sea. So the Egyptians took off after the people of Israel The Egyptian soldiers went into the sea on the dry ground, but then the water started coming back. It didn’t stay separated like it did for the people of Israel—the water came crashing down on the Egyptian army, and all of the Egyptians drowned in the water.
The people of Israel were safe. They could continue on their journey. They continued to follow the pillar of cloud and fire for years and years until, just as he promised, God led them safely to their new home—the land of Canaan.
We don’t walk nearly as much as those people did. In fact, even to come to church this morning I took a car! But I’m on a journey too—and so are you. We aren’t going by car or walking far, but as we live our life, we are learning more and more about God. That’s the kind of journey we’re on—it’s a learning journey.
It would be great to have a guide like the people of Israel had, wouldn’t it? We’d like to have a giant pillar of cloud or of fire to tell us where to go all the time. In a way, though, we do have that pillar. We can’t see it like the people of Israel could, but God is with us every day just like he was with them. Do you want to see what the pillar looks like? It’s right here.
This is it: the Bible. This is God’s Word to us, and this book gives us a way to learn where to go as we continue on our journey. But there is something else. There are lots of people on this journey with us—do you see them? They’re right here too.
They are the people of God—the ones right here in church with us. You know what else is really neat about this? We can help them on the journey too, because they are all learning just like we are—and we’re here to help each other. That’s why we have church together and why we get together for Sunday school and Bible study. That’s why we listen to sermons and talk together about God—not only on Sundays but all week long. This is how we are learning where God wants us to go on our life journey. It’s an exciting trip, and we’re glad that you’re traveling with us.