Sep 14, 2020
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
19 Next, the angel of God, who was going ahead of the camp of Isra’el, moved away and went behind them; and the column of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them. 20 It stationed itself between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Isra’el — there was cloud and darkness here, but light by night there; so that the one did not come near the other all night long.
21 Moshe reached his hand out over the sea, and Adonai caused the sea to go back before a strong east wind all night. He made the sea become dry land, and its water was divided in two. 22 Then the people of Isra’el went into the sea on the dry ground, with the water walled up for them on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians continued their pursuit, going after them into the sea — all Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and cavalry. 24 Just before dawn, Adonai looked out on the Egyptian army through the column of fire and cloud and threw them into a panic. 25 He caused the wheels of their chariots to break off, so that they could move only with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Adonai is fighting for Isra’el against the Egyptians! Let’s get away from them!”
26 Adonai said to Moshe, “Reach your hand out over the sea, and the water will return and cover the Egyptians with their chariots and cavalry.” 27 Moshe reached his hand out over the sea, and by dawn the sea had returned to its former depth. The Egyptians tried to flee, but Adonai swept them into the sea. 28 The water came back and covered all the chariots and cavalry of Pharaoh’s army who had followed them into the sea — not even one of them was left. 29 But the people of Isra’el walked on dry ground in the sea, with the water walled up for them on their right and on their left.
30 On that day, Adonai saved Isra’el from the Egyptians; Isra’el saw the Egyptians dead on the shore. 31 When Isra’el saw the mighty deed that Adonai had performed against the Egyptians, the people feared Adonai, and they believed in Adonai and in his servant Moshe. (Exodus 14:19-31 Complete Jewish Bible)
God’s angels are an interesting study. They appear periodically in scripture, sometimes to share a message from God, sometimes to guard or protect, sometimes to destroy. These created beings perform tasks at God’s bidding and their power, through God, always amazes me.
In this instance, God’s messenger acted as both guide and protector for the young Israelite nation. Around him stood a cloud by day and a fire by night, visible to the entire encampment who fled Egypt. Also visible to any who happened to be anywhere near the Israelites. I expect the vision of the cloud and fire surrounding God’s angel must have looked like an isolated storm cloud rising from the ground instead of falling from the sky. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
Other instances of God’s envoys include the two men who visited Abram and told him about their mission to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God gave them the task of destroying the wicked cities and the plains in which they were located. Their mission, rain down the fire and brimstone we hear about and ensure God’s plan happened.
Later, Jacob wrestled with one of God’s messengers who obviously took it pretty easy on him by only touching his hip at the end of a long night of Jacob struggling with him. Just a single touch and Jacob limped the rest of his life, while Jacob wore himself out trying to overcome this angelic being.
One of God’s warriors went through all of Egypt and killed all the firstborn in every household without the Passover blood painted on the doorpost. One of God’s warriors went through the Amalekite camp, killing many, and creating such chaos among the rest that they killed each other. Another of his warriors killed 185,000 Assyrians laying siege at the walls of Jerusalem as Hezekiah prayed to God for deliverance. Gabriel brought the message of Jesus’ coming birth to Mary and Joseph. Michael fought Satan’s warriors before delivering God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer.
Angels sat atop the stone at Jesus’ resurrection and caused an earthquake as they touched ground, frightening the tomb guards to a state of unconsciousness. A legion of angels stood by ready to rescue Jesus from the cross should he give the word. Angels transported Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The only story Jesus told with names instead of using terms like “there was a man, or there were certain men, or there was one.” Perhaps not a parable after all, but scene he saw before his incarnation.
So, let’s go back to the angelic guide God sent to the Israelites to protect them from the Egyptians right after their escape. Pharaoh changed his mind, as God knew he would. Cheap labor (just the cost of enough food, clothing, and lodging to help them survive) was as important in Pharaoh’s day as it seems to be in ours. After they left the country, he realized his cheap labor disappeared and it would take conquering another country to enlist more slaves, something he was not ready or willing to do.
Probably few besides Moses had left Egypt and knew anything about the wilderness they traveled. They needed a guide to get them to the place God promised their ancestors those centuries earlier. The tornado of a cloud in front of them, provided that compass. Then the chariots came. Horses move significantly faster than children on foot. The angel became more than a guide, he became a fence.
I can picture the scene as the Egyptians see their prey just ahead and then this wall lifts from in front of the Israelites and lands yards in front of them. It looks like a cloud but is impenetrable. Scouts try to push through the fog in front of them and as soon as they enter, they seem to lose all sense of direction and come out exactly where they went in. They try other means to get through before darkness overshadows them, but to no avail. Every time they try to go through the cloud, they find themselves right back where they started. They can’t get through.
Darkness falls. On the Egyptian side of the cloud, it’s the darkest night they’ve seen since the plague of darkness that struck the country weeks ago. They can’t see anything, even when they try to light a candle, the light seems swallowed by the unusual blackness. On the other side of the cloud, the Israelites face light as bright as daylight coming from the same wall. God’s envoy provides darkness and a wall to the Egyptians and light for the Israelites. Moses tells them to head toward the Reed Sea to continue their escape. The people look dumbfounded. There are probably not enough boats in all of Egypt to carry them and their cattle across the sea.
Then Moses holds out his rod and the east wind picks up speed. It’s hard to stand in the tumult. It’s not just a breeze, but one of the strongest winds they’ve ever seen blazing across the sea. Moses gives the order to march. The first of those reaching what should be the shore start to yell, praising God for his great power. The nation crosses on dry land. But the Egyptians follow.
The cloud has once more moved in front of the Israelites leading them across the sea and into the wilderness toward their promised future, but perhaps the angel leaves the cloud for a moment to break those chariot wheels, add a little water to the sea basin creating a little mud for the chariots and horses. Maybe he cut a few reins and loosened a few shafts. Whatever happened, the Egyptians didn’t fare well when they crossed the sea and suddenly, they faced the onslaught of the rushing water pouring over their armor-clad bodies.
Why all this talk about angels? To remind us that as we walk through the days ahead, God remains in charge. One of his names is God of Heavens Armies. Note that it’s not just one army at his disposal, but armies as in many. If one angel can create the kind of protection we see for the Israelites, or Elijah, or Jesus, imagine what an army of angels could do. And God has armies of angels at his disposal to do whatever he wants done.
Should we worry about the state of the world? No. God has it under control. He gave us a mission to take care of it for him. We haven’t done a very good job of it. He takes care of his children. We don’t do a very good job of that based on the headlines around the world. But God can at any moment intervene to guide and protect those who follow him. Will he take us out of the predicament we face? Not always.
Sometimes we get into them by the choices we make and so suffer the natural consequences of those choices. Sometimes we suffer at the hands of others. Why? I don’t know. I don’t understand, except that we live in a fallen, broken world, far from the one God created when he said all he made was good. We’ve kind of messed it up. But God is still God and just like with Moses and the Israelites, just like with Jacob and Mary, and Daniel. God can and does make his plans known and executes them with or without us through the agents of his creation, human or angelic.
Maybe knowing God has a plan for you and has incredible resources to put at your disposal when you need them will help you get through whatever you face today. He will never let you face more than you can handle when you follow him. He knows us better than we know ourselves and we can’t see around the bend in the road to know how he will use what we face today to help us or someone else tomorrow. Trust him to do what is best for his people.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked CJB are taken from the COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE (CJB): Scripture taken from the COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE, copyright© 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. www.messianicjewish.net/ jntp. Distributed by Messianic Jewish Resources Int’l. www.messianicjewish.net. All rights reserved. Used by permission.