THE JUNCTION | 21.6

THE JUNCTION | 21.6

MOSES & THE PILLAR OF FIRE

Hey everyone and welcome to another Junction online.

This week we are continuing our series on Faith Over Fear by looking at another key moment in the life of Moses. His life is full of moments of faith over fear; it’s kind of a reoccuring theme. This might be a bit of a new one for you though… If you’ve read the story of Exodus before (or seen the movie!) you might remember the big moments: the burning bush.. the plagues… the sea parting… the 10 commandments… but you might not know that God lead the way for His people out of slavery in Egypt towards the Promised Land.

Let’s take a look!

The Cloud Above the Tabernacle (Numbers 9:15-23 NIV)

On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

Fear

The Israelite people were following Moses out of Egypt but there were a few issues. Some didn’t trust that Moses was leading them well. They didn’t trust God’s plan. And to make things worse they were getting grumpy because they felt that they were fed better when they were slaves in Egypt. Wow.

When you think about it we’re not that different to the Israelites. You may have taken a step into something feeling like it’s what God wants for your life but then found it hard work only to complain that things would have been better if you’d never tried! Fear, worry and doubt can derail us from God’s plan. Not just that… A lot of the time we’re in darkness, not even knowing where to start. The pilar of fire that guided the Israelites towards the Promised Land lit the way and protected the people. The writer tells us that God’s presence was the pillar of fire at night.

We know that God’s presence has been guiding and protecting His people all through history. This is where this gets super juicy! – Theologians call the pillar of fire a theophany; which means a visible appearance of God. “but I thought we couldn’t see God!…” Well, that’s true, but all through the Bible God is making his presence visible (most obviously in Jesus = God in flesh) but in the burning bush and as the Angel of the Lord…. Check out this amazing video from the Spiritual Beings series by the Bible Project.

What does it mean for God’s presence to be at work today?

How do you know God is at work in this pandemic?

One massive way that God’s presence works is through the Holy Spirit leading followers of Jesus to greater love, generosity and peace. In the midst of a situation that could leave poeple feeling fearful Christians are often the ones who keep calm in the storm and show care when others don’t. Historically where there were diseases that took hold of a city or town the rich would leave quickly to avoid getting contaminated; but it was communities of followers of Jesus who would stick it out, look after the sick and be there for people. When it has passed people would ask them “why did you stay when it was so risky?” Their response would be that they follow a man called Jesus who gave his life for others and theyhave been told to do likewise. (I found this in a podcast from NT Wright.)

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