"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
King James Version
"A Pillar You Can Trust"
"Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on.
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me."
John Henry Newman
Do I understand that as God's child His "pillar" of love, strength and protection is surrounding me – today?
"Lord, when I am trying to pull as steadily and bravely as I can in the direction You have sent me, stay with me. Stay with me when I am swamped by weariness and seeming impossibilities. Turn my face gently towards You, keep my heart loving and my will determined to fight on to the end."
Based on a meditation by
Mother Janet Stuart
"Come, teach us, Spirit of our God, the language of Your way, the lessons that we need to live, the faith for every day."
Shirley Erena Murray
Pharaoh had a big problem. His loyal subjects were furious. Their slave labor had left town and it didn't look like they were coming back. Exodus 14: 5 reports that the heart of "Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people (of Israel), and they said, 'why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?'" Seems the Egyptians had, what in this country we call, "buyer's remorse." They were extremely unhappy they had bowed to the God of Israel and freed their labor force.
Thinking the lost and wandering Israelites were no match for his military force, Pharaoh rallied the troops and "pursued the children of Israel" (Exodus 14: 8 K.J.V.).
What a strategic mistake Pharaoh made. And here's why! Pharaoh didn't know his enemy. Oh, he thought he did. He thought the enemy was a bunch of misguided slaves whom he had locked in his clutches for 400 years. All Pharaoh could picture was a bunch of hunched over Israelites stomping around in the mud pits of Egypt as they made bricks for the Egyptian building force. Pharaoh had gotten accustomed to the empty looks on the faces of his labor crews. He had used whips and chains to erase hope from the hearts of the Israelites – he thought he had won the battle! It looked as though he had – except that there are often many battles before a war is won. If Pharaoh wanted to really win the war, he should have taken time to know who he was fighting, because it wasn't the Israelites.
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen made this observation, "A man without God is not like a cake without raisins; he is like a cake without the flour and milk; he lacks the essential ingredients."
This statement applies directly to Pharaoh. He lacked what was essential – and this was the knowledge of the God of the Israelites whom he looked down on.
It wasn't that Pharaoh hadn't been given an opportunity to know the God of the universe. Repeatedly he had watched as Jehovah had demonstrated His power over land and sea as plague after plague fell on Egypt. But the Bible record tells us that over and over again Pharaoh's heart was hardened.
In the New Testament, Jesus told a parable recorded in Matthew 13 about a sower who was scattering seed. The seed wasn't the problem in this story. It was seed that was ready to germinate. The problem was with the earth it fell on. Some of the land was filled with thorns. Some of the land was scorched by the hot sun. And some of the land was stony – hard like Pharaoh's heart. When Heaven's call to repentance fell on Pharaoh's hard heart, there was no response. Pharaoh made a deliberate choice to ignore God's call. Finally, Pharaoh became so insensitive to God, that the message he despised and rejected was withdrawn. Lacking the most essential ingredient to living a purpose-filled life – the knowledge of God Almighty – Pharaoh unfurled his true colors and set off to recapture what he lost to the desert.
However, an amazing thing happened on the way to the Israelite "take-down." Pharaoh ran into the "pillar." Don't you just love it! Because Pharaoh didn't know who his enemy really was, he wasn't prepared for the pillar of strength and power and protection that walled in, like a safety barrier, God's children.
This one incident alone should bring such courage to your heart and mine. For when Pharaoh comes riding into town with his fancy chariots and muscle-men warriors and thinks he is up against little Dorothy, the weakling, oh, boy is he in for a big surprise! Remember, Pharaoh lacks the essentials. He doesn't even recognize the pillar around me, As he readies himself to strike me down and bring me back to Egypt in chains, my mighty pillar comes to my rescue.
Years ago, my husband and I "adopted" an elderly widow named Edna whose husband and son had both died when she was very young. Edna became part of our family and when she died we even buried her close to my father's grave. Edna had very little in the way of earthly possessions, but whenever I would see her, she would hand me a piece of scrap paper or a small 3x5 card with a Bible text or quote she had written in her precious handwriting. I still have a stack of these little treasures. One rather worn card is taped to the top of the desk where I write the devotionals each day. It's my all-time favorite "Edna" quote:
"Angels will help and protect those who walk humbly before God.
NEVER will our Lord betray one who trusts in Him. As His
children draw near to Him for protection from evil, in pity
and love He lifts up a standard against the enemy. 'Touch them
not,' He says, 'For they are mine. I have graven them upon
the palms of my hands.'"
Pharaoh made the biggest mistake of his life – going up against an enemy he didn't know. Taking on an opponent who appeared weakened and worn, yet was covered by the God of the universe. As the Psalmist David so boldly proclaimed, "Happy are the people who understand and appreciate You; they walk, O Lord, in the light and favor of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all the day, and in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength and we walk with uplifted faces!" (Psalm 89: 15-17, Amplified Bible)
"Watch out Pharaoh – there's a 'Pillar" around the daughters and sons of God. And while you may win a battle once in a while, the war is not yours to win, because you don't know who you'll be up against!" For thanks be to God. "Who gives us the victory (making us conquerors) through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15: 57, Amplified Bible).
"I've never seen the place,
No map describes the way,
But still I trust that by God's grace
I shall not go astray."
Hymns for Everyday Saints
In The Hands of God
"Safe in the hands of God who made me,
what can there be that I should fear:
God is my light and my salvation,
strong is his help when foes are near.
This I have prayed and will seek after,
that I may walk with God each day;
then will he give me his protection,
no trouble shall my heart dismay.
God of my life, my Lord, my master,
father and mother now to me:
come, shield me from the threat of evil,
open your hands and set me free!
Teach me your way and lead me onwards,
save me from those who do me wrong;
give me the grace to wait with patience.
help me to trust, hold firm, be strong."
Psalms for Today and Songs from the Psalms
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus