Exodus Types: 5. The Pillar of Cloud and of Fire, Type of the Protection and Guidance of the Holy Spirit

(Exodus 13:20-22; 14:19, 20) The pillar of cloud and of fire was an indication of God’s presence with Israel in the wilderness; even as the Holy Spirit’s activity in believers is proof of God’s presence with them. "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" (Exodus 13:21). By day everyone could know that God was present with His people because of the pillar of cloud, and by night this became the pillar of fire. And it is the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer that lets the world around know that God is with him. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9). The pillar of cloud and of fire was given Israel after redemption from Egypt by blood; as the Holy Spirit is given to those who have been saved by Christ’s blood. Redemption by the blood of the Passover lamb is found in Exodus 12. The pillar of cloud and fire is described in Exodus 13:21f. The order here is important. The order is similar in the first chapter of Ephesians: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins . . . In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:7, 13). We are first redeemed by Christ’s blood, and then sealed by His Spirit. The pillar of cloud and of fire served Israel as a protection from her enemies; like the Holy Spirit gives believers victory over their foes. "And the angel of God which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of die cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night" (Exodus 14:19, 20). The pillar of cloud and fire stood between the Israelites and the pursuing army of the Egyptians as a wonderful protection. And the Holy Spirit does just that for the believer who trusts in His keeping power from the enemy. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Galatians 5:16-18). In our warfare against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, the blessed Holy Spirit will, if we trust Him to do so, protect us from these enemies, and give us victory over them. The pillar of cloud and of fire was given Israel for the purpose of guidance; as the Holy Spirit is given the Christian to guide him. "And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents" (Numbers 9:17). Israel journeyed or camped according to the movement or abiding of the pillar of cloud and of fire. Today the Holy Spirit guides the believer. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). The Spirit guides through inward impressions, through Scripture passages, and through providential circumstances. In various ways He makes it clear to the child of God the way he should travel, the decision he should render, the choice he should make. The pillar of cloud was given Israel to serve as a covering from the heat by day; even as the Holy Spirit is the believers covering in the stress and strain of excessive trials. "He spread a cloud for a covering" (Psalm 105:39). This is no doubt a reference to the pillar of cloud which protected the Israelites from the hot burning sun of the desert. It was a canopy from the desert heat. And when the early church had excessive persecution, the Spirit served them as a covering. "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied" (Acts 9:31). The Holy Spirit became a comfort to them following a time of great persecution. The pillar of fire served Israel as a light by night; and so the Spirit illuminates the Christian’s way. "Thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go" (Nehemiah 9:12). It was like a great searchlight, making the way that lay ahead clear to see. And concerning the work of the Holy Spirit Jesus said: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit illuminates the Word as we study its teachings, and He also illuminates our pathway. He makes everything clear. Holy Ghost with light divine, Shine upon this heart of mine; Chase the shades of night away, Turn my darkness into day. God spoke to Israel from the cloud, as the Spirit speaks to the churches today. "He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar" (Psalm 99:7). The divine messages came to Israel direct from this overhead cloud. And if we have ears to hear, the Spirit of God will often speak to our hearts in these modern days of crisis. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 2:29). May God give to us listening ears to hear what He has to say to us! The pillar of cloud and of fire was not taken away from Israel during her wilderness days; and the Holy Spirit will abide with believers forever. "Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go" (Nehemiah 9:19). All through the forty years of wilderness experiences God took not away from Israel the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Concerning the Holy Spirit, Jesus said: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16). As our Comforter or Helper, the Holy Spirit abides with us to protect us and to guide us in the way. [Old Testament Types - FHW]

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