The Lord has graciously been leading us through many trials and troubles. But He wants us to go “forward” in whatever circumstances we are in as never before.
‘And the Lord said to Moses…go forward’; and the angel of God , which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before their face and stood behind them’. ‘And the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night” (Exo. 14:15, 19, 21).
Is it not an astonishing paradox that after the Lord commanded Moses and his people to ‘go forward’, the angel of His presence and the pillar of cloud were now going behind! But there is no contradiction with Him or with His Word. When we meditate on this wonderful text, we marvel at the matchless providence and protection of God for His people.
Of all the troubles and problems the Israelites ever had to face, this was the most crucial. Of all the means employed by God to deliver His people, this was the most spectacular. They were literally “between the devil and the deep blue sea”; before them were the boisterous waters of the Red Sea, obstructing their forward march, and lo, behind them, Pharaoh and his mighty army with their iron chariots and well trained horses in hot pursuit.
In their dilemma, their only source of comfort had been the knowledge that the angel of God and the pillar of cloud signifying the presence of God went before them. Alas, now that too was gone! It seemed as if God had forsaken them in their anguish.
It is possible, that in our journey to heavenly Canaan, we too may face similar situations. “Then came Jesus, THE DOORS BEING SHUT, and stood in the midst, and said, “peace be unto you” (John 20:26). We too may find that all the doors are closed against us, that our God does not seem to answer our prayers or have pity on us. We may feel forsaken and forgotten by every one. However, the greatest trial of the people of God often turns out to be an occasion of the greatest deliverance and victory. Though all things seem to be against us, as Jacob once thought, they are in fact in our favour, praise the Lord! Every thing is planned by God in His immense love and mercy. In every minute detail of our lives, God’s intention is to reveal His mighty hand and His invincible power. Remember, when all the doors are closed, Jesus comes and commands, “Peace be unto you”.
Pharaoh and his hosts were following hard after the children of Israel. God had ordained that they should no more be a terror to His people, for their end was to be a watery grave, while those same waters became a wall of protection on either side for His people. The angel of God and the pillar of cloud that had previously gone before them, now went behind them, not because God had forsaken them (as they may well have feared), but because God loved them, and He wanted to prevent the Egyptians from overtaking them. The same pillar of cloud which brought darkness upon the enemy, gave light to God’s people throughout the night. Similarly, the very things which appear to be troublesome to the people of the world, are indeed a blessing to God’s people! All things may not appear good to us, but “all things work together for good to them that love God”
It is interesting to see how God works for His people. “The Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind ALL THAT NIGHT! Very often, in our spiritual lives, when we face dark nights, we tend to forget the fact that God is working ALL THAT NIGHT. True enough, at times, we are in the dark, and do not know where to go or what to do or how to face the future – the whole atmosphere is gloomy. We can be assured that we have a wonderful Savior, who works on our behalf ‘ALL THAT NIGHT’.
Often darkness and night are closely linked with occasions of tremendous blessings and victory. Jesus, before He raised the shout of victory, ‘It is finished’ on the cross, had to face the blackest darkness for three whole hours. Similarly, the most remarkable and blessed events in Jacob’s life took place during the night. First, in the desert of Bethel, in that night of flight from the father’s home, he saw the heavens opened and angels ascending and descending with the promises of God. Another time, while fleeing from Laban’s home, he wrestled with an angel of God one night and was so greatly blessed that his very name (which indicates his character) was changed, and he became Israel, meaning, ‘a prince with God’.
God permits dark nights in our spiritual lives, not to destroy us, but to enable us to ‘divide the spoil’. One of the blessings given by Jacob to his son Benjamin was “AT NIGHT he shall divide the spoil” (Gen 49:27). Instead of getting discouraged by darkness, let us learn to ‘divide the spoil’ or enjoy the rich blessings of God. God’s promise is, “I will give thee the treasures of darkness” Isa. 45:3. There are treasures in darkness; unless we go through darkness, we cannot receive them.
It has been said that the supply of the attar of roses for the whole world is from the Balkan Mountains. An amazing fact is that the roses picked between one and two o’clock after midnight are scientifically proved to be the most fragrant. In our Christian lives also, darkness and nights are permitted by God to render our spiritual lives more fragrant.
The world’s most precious and brilliant stones are formed in the crust of the earth having lain in total darkness for vast period of time. We are the living stones that God has designed to be the stones of the Church. The more we go through the darkness, the brighter we shine for His glory! For them that triumphantly survive the dark night, the Lord comes in the morning as the Bright and Morning Star. We may be faced with an impossible situation in this Christian life. The night may be very dark. However let us not forget that God is working through the pitch darkness of that night and that He is turning all things for our good. Strengthened by this thought, let us take courage and obey His command…. “GO FORWARD”
“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know, He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives”.