Two Pillars

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Exodus 13:17-22

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. (v. 21)

As an avid mountain biker, I learned this guiding principle the hard way: Look where you want your tires to go. When rapidly traversing a trail full of hazards that could break bike parts or bones, a lapse in focus can be disastrous.

As the Israelites begin the exodus from Egypt, perhaps surprisingly the Lord God deliberately steers his people away from the most direct route to the Promised Land. Why? The Lord says, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt” (Exod. 13:17 NIV). Distractions and dangers tend to dishearten the weary. So the Lord leads Israel into a barren wilderness whose horizon features the sole sight of two pillars: a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. After freeing his people of distractions, the Lord preoccupies them only with his presence.

Our lives are full of distractions and potential dangers. When we shift our focus away from God’s Word, will, and abiding presence, our faith gets derailed. The author of Hebrews invites us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles . . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1-2 NIV). When you feel overwhelmed by the world’s worries or lost in life’s luxuries, fix your eyes on Jesus. —Ben Van Arragon

As you pray, ask the Lord to reveal his presence and remind you of his will.