AND THE LORD WENT BEFORE THEM
Exod. xiii. 21, 22

Robert Hawker
(1753-1827)


"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, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." –Exod. xiii. 21, 22.

My soul, look back this evening to the church's history in the wilderness, and behold how Jesus watched over his people then as he doth now. Surely it is sweet, it is blessed, to mark the same evidences of the Redeemer's love, and to observe, that in affection to his people (as in person so in love) he is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Among many precious testimonies to this effect, that of the pillar of the cloud by day, and of fire by night, in the camp of Israel, is not the least. We are told in this scripture, that the Lord was in this cloud; and another scripture confirms it, saying, that Jehovah "spake unto them out of the cloudy pillar." It is wonderful to conceive what effect must have been wrought on the minds of the people by this constant display of the Lord's goodness. Contrary to all other clouds, it was always stationary, always near the tabernacle, and acted as the reverse of all other clouds, in that it shone bright by night, and was dark as a cloud to obscure the sun's brightness and scorching rays by day. Besides these and other wonderful properties, its movements became the token for the camp of Israel to move, and when it rested, it implied that Israel was to rest also. And thus, not for a short transient march or two, not on any particular emergency, did it become the guide and protection of Israel, for forty years together, until all the people of God arrived in the promised land. Pause my soul, and ponder over the grace of thy covenant God in Christ, in this standing miracle; and when thou hast duly considered the wonderful subject, say, was not Jesus then as much, in type and figure, preached to the church of old, as he is now in sum and substance? Was the Lord veiled in a cloud then, and hath he not since veiled himself in our flesh? Did he go before the people then, and doth he not the same now? Was he stationary then, that is, ever with them, and is he not with his people "always, even unto the end of the world?" Was the cloud in the wilderness the reverse of all other clouds, shining by night, but becoming a grateful screen by day? And is not Jesus all this and more; shining most bright upon his people when they are in darkness, and sheltering them when the heat of persecution or distress is at the height? Did the cloud never deport from the people during their forty years' journey through the wilderness until they arrived at Canaan? And doth not our Lord go before, and follow his redeemed, all the way of their pilgrimage, until he hath brought them home safe to heaven? Oh! thou glorious, gracious, great I AM! be thou, dearest Lord, still the light, the way, the truth, and the life, to alt thy redeemed. And as now, since thou hast finished redemption-work by thine open presence upon earth, in substance of our flesh, and "washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning:" do thou, Lord, fulfil that sweet promise, and "create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and a smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence!" Isa. iv. 4, 5.

From the POOR MAN'S MORNING AND EVENING PORTIONS.


Robert Hawker



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