God Led The Israelites by a Cloud And by Fire

A certain Christian traveler was packing his suitcase, about to proceed on a journey. He remarked to a friend: “There is still a little corner left open in which I desire to pack a guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a telescope, a book of poems, a number of biographies, a bundle o … More


The shortest way to Palestine was through the territory of the Philistines in the direction of  Beersheba. God chose to lead His people, not on the nearest way, but the way that was best  for them (vv. 17-18), just as He does today. He led them southward, instead of eastward, by way of Etham to the western edge of the Red Sea (vv. 19-20).

Moses had heard of Joseph’s request that his bones be taken from Egypt so he honored that request. Joseph dying words had been, “God will come to your rescue, and when He does, be sure to take along my bones."  Doubtless the coffin containing his embalmed body (Gen. 50:26) became a rallying point for the Hebrews in their wilderness wanderings.

The Israelites were supernaturally guided by a pillar of cloud in the daytime, which  became a pillar of fire by night. God always makes His way clear to those who are willing to follow. In some ways this pillar typified the Holy Spirit as it provided the following:

  1. A road map for the children of Israel through the wilderness (v. 21). 
  2. A light for them to travel by night (v. 21).
  3. Protection for the Israelites from the heat of the sun in the sandy dessert (v. 22).
  4. Darkness to hid the Israelites from the Egyptians (Ex. 14:20). 

This way the Lord could lead them at all times, whether day or night.


It is so easy for me to ask God to bless my plans when I need to be seeking how I can fit into His plans for my life.

Exodus 13:17-22 (English Standard Version)

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt." But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here." And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

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