Ex 13:21                    A Pillar of Cloud and of Fire                                9/27/2009      ßà   

  • The Exodus (Ex 12:51, Psalm 105:37, Ex 13:17-22)

 

#1.       The Way of the Land of the Philistines (Ex 13:17, 3:12, Mal 3:10, Rom 11:6)

 

  • Our God knows the end from the beginning (Isa 46:9-10)

 

 

  • This is the Broad Way (Matt 7:13)

 

 

#2.       The Way of the wilderness of the Red Sea (Ex 13:18,21, Eph 5:26, Rom 10:17, John 3:5)

 

  • This is the narrow way (Matt 7:14)

 

 

  • The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23)

Rom 8:14, Eph 2:10

 

 

#3.       The Way of the LORD (Ex 13:21-22)                             

 

  1. The cloud was given as a gracious gift; they did not ask for it (John 14:6, John 6:44)
  2. The cloud was not given until they had been delivered from Egypt (John 14:18,23)
  3. God spoke to them from the cloud (Psalm 99:7)
  4. The cloud was given as a guide through their wilderness journey (Psalm 119:105)
  5. The cloud was given to give them light (John 8:12)
  6. The cloud was darkness to the Egyptians (1Cor 2:14)
  7. The cloud was given for a covering (Isa 4:5, Isa 44:22)
  8. The cloud rested upon the Tabernacle (Ex 40:33-35, John 1:14)
  9. The cloud was never taken away from them (John 14:15-16)
  10. The Lord looked through the cloud and judged the Egyptians (John 12:48)

 

·         I will never leave thee nor forsake thee (Heb 13:5-6, Ex 3:12, Deut 8:2-3, Rev 3:21)

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 13:17 (2X). After the Lord killed all the first-born in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh, king of Egypt declared that all the children of Israel had to leave the country. And so, the morning after the Passover all the children of Israel are walking out of Egypt. They are no longer slaves. Let's pick up the context in Ex 12:51. And there we read,

Ex 12:51  And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

The expression, “by their armies” indicates that God considers this a military operation. Look at this in the historical sense. It was already a miracle that all the armies of Israel were walking out of Egypt in one day. It was an army the size of about 600 000 men, which means there were about 2 million people walking out of Egypt that day including women and children. What was the probability that they had to carry elderly and sick people?  Just listen as I read from Psalm 105:37

Psalm 105:37  He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.

God timed it so perfectly, that there were no feeble persons among the children of Israel on that day. Just think of this additional miracle: Among these 2 million people there was not one sick, or unable to walk these many miles to their first five destinations in the wilderness. We read in Ex 13:17-22

Ex 13:17-22 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 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.

We read in verse 18 that “Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt”, which means that they went up “armed” out of the land of Egypt. They had bows and arrows, and they had swords and spears. They were ready for battle, for God considered this a military operation. But think of it now in the spiritual sense. When God saves us out of the house of bondage, God expects us to do battle against Satan and his demons, for we must recognize that Satan’s enticements to sin are always before us. But we cannot do it on our own, for we can only resist Satan if we are armed with the spiritual armor of God. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against spiritual wickedness in high places

Today I want us to see three ways in this passage: #1. The Way of the Philistines, #2. The Way of the wilderness of the Red Sea, #3. The Way of the LORD. Let us look at the first one of these ways:

#1.       The Way of the Philistines (Ex 13:17, Isa 46:9-10, Ex 3:12, Matt 7:13, Mal 3:10, Rom 11:6)

Why did God write Ex 13:17? We read in this verse about God’s decisions as if He was a humanlike leader of this band of former slaves. We read in Ex 13:17,

Ex 13:17 ¶ And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Is this not strange? Did God let us know what He was thinking? Was God deciding His options?  It was God who was leading them, and God knew already where He was taking them. God is not wishy-washy or uncertain about anything. Listen to what God says through the prophet Isa in Isa 46:9-10,

Isa 46:9-10  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Our God knows the end from the beginning. And so, where was God leading them to? He led them to Mount Sinai, also called Mount Horeb. Listen to what God told Moses already in Ex 3:12,

Ex 3:12  And God said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

In other words, God said to Moses: I send you to liberate the children of Israel out of Egypt, and when you have brought them out of Egypt, you shall serve Me here upon this mountain. God knew all along that He was not taking them through the land of the Philistines, but to Mount Sinai. Why then did God write Verse 17? Why did He even bring up the possibility of traveling through the land of the Philistines? You see, Verse 17 has a totally spiritual meaning. God wrote Verse 17 not for them, but for our instruction. What were the characteristics of the Way of the Philistines? 

#1. That was the shortest route to the land of Canaan, which was the Promised Land, and which symbolically stood for the Kingdom of God. #2. That was the way of war; war against the giants, which were experienced fighters in the army of Satan, and which symbolically stood for great temptations. #3.

The Israelites have just been delivered, they are not accustomed to war, they will give up and they will return to Egypt, to the land of bondage to sin and Satan. But God will not allow that, and thus God will not put a temptation before us that we are not able to resist, and if He does He will with the temptation also make a way of escape, so that we are able to bear it. How well God knows us. The shortest way to Canaan seems to be the easy way; although in reality it is not easy because the giants protect it and control it, so that we never get to the Land of Canaan, the Kingdom of God, but we end up in Egypt again. Let me say it in a different way: God knows, when we have just been saved, that we are still so inclined to get absorbed into worldly things. We have one foot in the world and one foot toward God, and we are not strong enough to fight the giants. Who are the giants?  They are Sex and Greed and Pride and Covetousness and Creature Comforts, and many other temptations that feel good to the flesh. 

When we have just been saved we are not well equipped to fight giants like these, and then we might end up in churches where they believe that you can have the world and have Christ also. And then we would be in terrible company. Jesus warned for that in Matt 7:13. Listen the words of Matt 7:13,

Matt 7:13  Enter ye in at the strait gate (Enter at the narrow gate):  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

The Way of the Philistines is equivalent to the broad way of Matt 7:13. The broad way is the gospel that most churches adhere to. It is the easy way where most people flock to. Who is the Lord Jesus speaking to in Matt 7:13? Well, who is God speaking about in Ex 13:17? There He is speaking to the congregation of Israel, which are all people who supposedly are following God’s guiding hand. But then in Matt 7:13 Christ is also speaking about people in the churches, who supposedly are following His guiding hand. And to them the Lord Jesus says (paraphrased), “Most of you are going on the broad way, the easy way. You are following church leaders who have concocted a theology that feels good to the flesh, or a theology that makes you proud for having chosen the right way, or a theology that does away with the depravity of man, but you are not following a theology that is dictated by the Bible.” You know, it feels good to understand Matt 7:13 as if the Lord Jesus says, “All you church people are on the narrow way that leads to heaven, and all those other people outside the churches are on the broad way that leads to Hell.” But that is not what this Sermon on the Mount is about. This Sermon on the Mount, which begins in Matt 5:1, is addressed to the multitudes who come to Jesus, and thus in the spiritual sense it is addressed to the multitudes who come to the churches throughout time. And the Lord Jesus tells us very plainly that most of us, church people, are spiritually on the broad way, which is a slippery slide that leads into Hell, because we have chosen the way that is not prescribed by the Bible. In today’s world, what are some of the enticements of the broad way? Why is the broad way so attractive? This is what the churches preach who are offering us the broad way:

#1. They say, Christ has done all He could and all you need to do is believe in Jesus. Believe in the miracles He did to heal people of their diseases, and believe that He was nailed to the cross because the Pharisees were jealous of Him. And believe that God raised Him from the dead. Believe in the historical Jesus. But Jesus cannot do anything if you do not cooperate. And they will back this up with Scripture. #2. They say, Salvation is like a check that needs two signatures. Christ has already signed the check. All it needs is your signature. It is a very small thing that you need to do, but it has great rewards. #3. They say, All you need to do is come forward and say the sinner’s prayer, and commit your life to Jesus. Make a promise, that from now on you will follow Christ wherever He leads you. #4. They say, All you need to do is be baptized in water and believe that your baptism saves you, and you will be on your way to heaven. #5. You must be baptized exactly in this way: Over backwards and dunked under, or else your baptism is not valid. #6. All the sins you committed before your baptism will be forgiven. All the sins you commit after your baptism will have to be paid in purgatory. #7. Your salvation comes in two stages. In the first stage you believe in Jesus, but the second stage is the work of the Holy Spirit. The evidence of having entered the second stage is when you speak in tongues, or when God gives you messages in dreams, or visions, or angel visitations, or when God gives you the power of healing people from their diseases. #8. Your salvation has entered the second stage when God showers on you the wealth you never had before, as God said in Mal 3:10, “I will open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”, and so on, and so on. All these gimmicks have nothing to do with the true Gospel. What do all these different religions have in common? These are all gospels that require some work that is done by us. It makes us feel good when we can do something for our salvation. It makes us feel good when we can retain our self-respect, and we do not have to think of ourselves as wicked. It makes us feel good when we can look at what our monetary contribution has done and be proud of it. But all these works gospels are the warnings that the Lord Jesus gives us in Matt 7. The Broad Way is the cursed gospel of grace plus our works, if that were possible. These are gospels that give homage to another god, but it is not the God of the Bible. God Almighty says in Rom 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” In other words, “We cannot mix grace with works. Our Gospel must be either all grace, or it is a gospel of works.” And if it is a gospel of works, then it is an accursed gospel that leads people to Hell.

But God knows what it takes to get us to Canaan, into the Kingdom of God. That is through:

#2.       The Way of the wilderness of the Red Sea (Ex 13:18,21, Matt 7:14, Ps 37:23, Rom 8:14, Eph 2:10, Eph 5:26, Rom 10:17, John 3:5)

It was God who led them all the way. And look now at the contrasts from the previous way. Do we now remember the title of this sermon? Do we remember how God described it in Ex 13:21? It was with: The Pillar of cloud and of fire (2X). This is the narrow way of Matt 7:14

Matt 7:14  Because strait (Narrow) is the gate, and narrow (Constricted) is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

In other words, the Lord Jesus said: Watch out that you do not end up on the broad way, the popular way, because it is the narrow way that leads unto eternal life. It is the unpopular narrow way. What is the narrow way? It is The way of the wilderness of the Red Sea.  It is a long and difficult way through the wilderness of this world, and its path has to go through the Red Sea, and included in that path is Mount Horeb, where the Law was given. We read in Ex 13:18,

Ex 13:18  But God led the people about (Aside), through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

What is the wilderness of the Red Sea? It is the wilderness that is located between the two arms of the Red Sea. These days those arms are called the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. But 3000 years ago they were both considered part of the Red Sea. So, the wilderness of the Red Sea was the wilderness that we now call the Sinai Peninsula. And the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. That word "harnessed" means: "armed, and in battle array". Now, here is a problem that perhaps our teenage children would like to solve. The nation of Israel, about 2 million strong, walked out of Egypt in a row that was 50 people wide, and the Bible says: plus flocks and herds and very much cattle. You can see that this takes a great deal of organization and discipline. Let's suppose we are standing there on the side of the road and we are counting the Israelites that are passing by. Every second 50 people pass by. How long would it take to let 2 million people pass by? Could all these 2 million people pass by in one day? And if we think of all the logistics that came with it, and that all the children of Israel had to be notified where they had to assemble and where to cross the border of Egypt, we can see that it was God Himself who led the people out of Egypt and through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea. We can see that God preserved the picture of redemption, which was the picture of a redeemed people, even though historically most of them died in the wilderness because of unbelief. But God preserved the picture of redemption for us, to let us understand other parts in the Bible that deal with the care and nurture provided by the Lord in the rough and difficult wilderness of this world. Just listen to the words of Scripture that speak of this time of sanctification. We read in Ps 37:23,

Psalm 37:23  The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and He delighteth in his way.

God chose this way through the wilderness for His people. This was the best way. We read in Rom 8:14

Rom 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

We should look at our own life and ask ourselves if we can see that the Spirit of God leads us. We then see that nothing is left to chance.  Nothing is left to our own poor reasoning.  The grace by which we are saved is also the grace that guides us in this life after we have been saved. We read in Eph 2:10

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

God cares for us, nurtures us, and guides our steps while we are walking through this wilderness. So, what is the narrow way? It is the way of salvation and sanctification by grace alone. Christ did it all. He shed His blood like the lamb without blemish, He sent His Holy Spirit to take us out of Egypt, the house of bondage, and He guides our way through this life so that Pharaoh, who is a representation of the Devil, cannot capture us again. And where do we find this narrow way? In the Scriptures. First of all, we must be among those who have been chosen by the Father unto salvation, and our names must have been imprinted in the mind of God the Son. Secondly, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom God the Son was incarnate in the Son of Mary, must have suffered and died on the cross for all whom the Father had given Him. Thirdly, The Gospel of grace alone must be preached to us, and God the Holy Spirit must apply this Gospel of grace to our miserable soul with which we came into this world, and which was dead in trespasses and sins. He then made our soul alive and cleansed from sin by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. God speaks of this wonderful process of salvation by the Holy Spirit in various ways. God says in Eph 5:26, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” This does not refer to the water of baptism, but to the washing of water by the Word, which means that the water represents the words of the Gospel that reaches our ears and simultaneously our soul. God says in Rom 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This tells us that salvation by faith in Christ comes by hearing the Gospel, and the simultaneous spiritual hearing of it comes by a spoken word of God. God says in John 3:5, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This again tells us that being born again, or regeneration, which is identical to salvation, comes by hearing the water of the Gospel and simultaneously its application by God the Holy Spirit. Fourthly, the same grace of God continues to guide and protect us through this life so that we will persevere in this faith. The road through the wilderness of this world can be rough, and it can give us many hardships, but by the grace of God we will get through every difficulty, because the Lord Jesus has promised: "My grace is sufficient for you". Now, let us look at the third way spoken of in this passage.

#3.       The Way of the LORD (Ex 13:21-22)

Ex 13:21-22  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.

It was God Himself, in the presence of a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, who led them all the way, for 40 years, until they finally entered the Promised Land. Why did God appear to Israel in this peculiar form of a pillar of cloud and fire? God created this pillar of cloud and fire for our instruction. This magnificent display of the presence of God is continuing to teach us how God's dealings are with the people whom He has redeemed from bondage to Sin and Satan. Let me list here 10 attributes of the cloud, and then apply these to our N.T. understanding. Then we will see that God is giving us here a picture of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, particularly of Christ coming as the Word of God. Look in the outline in your bulletin and compare:

1.    The cloud was given as a gracious gift; they did not ask for it (John 14:6, John 6:44)

Joh 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Joh 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Before we became saved, we did not want the Gospel of the Bible and we did not want Christ. There is none that seeketh after God. No, not one! God sovereignly chose to save whom He will.

2.  The cloud was not given until they had been delivered from Egypt (John 14:18,23)

Joh 14:18   I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Joh 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

After we have become saved, the Word of God is given to us, and the Book is opened.

Prior to that the Bible was a closed book, which we could not understand.

3.  God spoke to them from the cloud (Psalm 99:7)

Ps 99:7  He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.

Christ speaks to us from the Bible, the Word of God.

4.  The cloud was given as a guide through their wilderness journey (Psalm 119:105)

Ps 119:105  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

The Word of God is given to us to teach us our relationship to God: It tells us how we became saved and how we are expected to live after we became saved.

5.  The cloud was given to give them light (John 8:12)

Joh 8:12   Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Christ is the light of the world. He sent His Holy Spirit to give us light, and life, and understanding in the Word of God.

6.  The cloud was all darkness to the Egyptians (1Cor 2:14)

1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The natural man cannot understand the Word of God. It is all darkness to him.

7.  The cloud was given for a covering, protecting them from the hot sun.(Isa 4:5, Isa 44:22)

Isa 4:5  And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.

Isa 44:22  I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

Christ atoned for our sins; He covered our sins with His blood and He covered us with the robe of His righteousness.

8.  The cloud rested upon the tabernacle (Ex 40:33-35, John 1:14)

Ex 40:33-35  And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

9.  The cloud was never taken away from them (John 14:15-16)

Joh 14:15   If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Joh 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

When we have received Christ, He is never taken away from us. We cannot lose eternal life.

Nothing is left to our own chance; nothing is left to our own poor reasoning.

10. The Lord looked through the cloud and judged the Egyptians (John 12:48)

Joh 12:48  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

When Christ comes the second time, He comes as the Judge, and He will use the Word of God as a two edged sword to judge all the unsaved.

At home you can look up the references that I have given for each one of these ten attributes. But now, let us look at the cloud that protected and guided Israel along the way, from a different perspective. God gave us this picture to show us the way of the Lord. What is the way of the Lord? Do we remember that God said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”? It is found in Josh 1:5 and in Heb 13:5-6, where God says: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

These verses are characteristic of the way of the Lord.  The cloudy and fiery pillar is a demonstration of those same words. Just remember, God never said those words to Moses, because the cloudy and fiery pillar was always there. But God said those words to Joshua because God took away the cloudy and fiery pillar. We are now in the N.T. age and we have to believe God just like Joshua did. We do not have a tangible evidence of the Lord's presence like a cloudy and fiery pillar. We believe that our God is sovereign. Our God leads us all the way, in our personal life. Not only in our life after He brought us to the Lord Jesus Christ, but also in the life before we became saved, excluding sin of course. Have we ever thought why we are here, worshipping God here in this Church? Our God is sovereign. He brought us here. God made everything work out, such that today we are in this place. We find ourselves in the way of the Lord, because He promised: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee". But that is the same way how God has worked in our life all along. Many of us painfully remember that there were some horrible things that came to pass in our life, or perhaps there are some traumatic events in our life right now. Was God's hand in all of this?  Yes it was, excluding sin of course. We do not know why God has put us through the wringer now and then. Could God have prevented that? Of course He could. Our God is sovereign. Now take our eyes off our own self, stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and fix your eyes on the Lord Jesus. Could God have prevented that Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross?  Yes He could, but we hate to think of the consequences if God had taken that course of action; for then there would be no salvation. Now, from this we should learn that suffering is part and parcel of this life.  Therefore we want to forget our past sins quickly, because God has also forgotten our sins of the past. When Christ paid for our sins on the cross, He promised to forgive and forget. We are also called to forgive and forget. The main point is not, "What occurred in the past?" The main point is: "How do we stand before God today?" We could have been grievous sinners in the past. That was the past. The main point is: "Are we forgiven sinners today?" What sin could we commit that God cannot forgive?  Can we look back on our recent history, and can we see if God has done a wonderful work in us? Do we know why we have a fervent desire to be obedient to God's Word? Where did this desire come from? It came from being in the way of the Lord, because He promised: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee". And when we look back on our life we see that He led us all the way.

Likewise, when God declared to Moses in Ex 3:12, “When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain”, God said this as evidence that He has been with Moses all the way. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Deuteronomy, Deut 8:2 (2X). God’s purpose in leading the children of Israel to Canaan through the wilderness was this: First of all, in order that His marvelous power might be displayed on their behalf in bringing them safely through the Red Sea. Secondly, it was in order that Pharaoh and his armies might be destroyed there in the Red Sea. Thirdly, it was in order that they might receive Jehovah’s laws in the undisturbed quietness of the desert. Fourthly, it was in order that they might be properly organized and united into a church-state, the commonwealth of Israel, before they entered into the land of Canaan, and show a united front in battle. Fifthly, it was in order that they might be humbled and tried and proved, and that the sufficiency of their God in every emergency might be fully shown. God reminded them of this when He said in Deut 8:2-3,

De 8:2-3  And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

And God also says these words of Deut 8 to us. Paraphrased God says to us, “I am the covenant God, the God who heard your groanings, the God who raised up a deliverer for you, the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though you did not see a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, I was with you all the way, and I shielded you from all the evils that your enemy threw in your way. And I prepared the way that you will enter into my glory in the NH&NE, and I will make sure that you get there. Hold fast till I come. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.                 AMEN.           Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.