I Will Go Before You!

**This is an "excerpt" from Adult Coloring Bible Study: Exodus by Bible Stories from the Heart.

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Step One:  Read Exodus chapters 7-14  

Focus Verses   
Exodus 13: 20-22 (NKJV) 20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

Thoughts from Leslie
It is in these chapters that God shows His POWER and PROTECTION to the Israelites.  This is where God orchestrates the ten plagues to fall upon the Egyptians.  It is also where God destroys the Egyptians and then leads the Israelites through the wilderness.  For time's sake, this lesson will not focus on each plague and Godly sign individually, but refer them as a whole.  It will also lead you to discover the purpose behind the various plagues:  For God to Prove HIS LOVE for His people!!

History
Before God led His people through the wilderness, He had to help them escape their bondage. They were being held captive as slaves in Egypt.  It was time for God to save His children.  God had the perfect plan for their escape.  Through the destruction caused by the ten plagues, God would demonstrate His power to the Israelites.  He would show both His children and the Egyptians that He alone was the ONE TRUE GOD! (Exodus chapters 7-12) 
 
Remember, the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years.  During their time in Egypt they were immersed in Egyptian customs and worship.  At this time in history people believed that there were MANY gods.  
 
Each area and group of people had their own gods; many had several.  The more "gods" an area declared, the more prestige that group of people had.  God knew this. He was aware that His children, the Israelites, even believed this.  He needed to change their thinking.  To do this He would need to demonstrate that HIS power was stronger than any other "god" of that time. 
 
He had a plan.  He decided to use the ten plagues as a way to show the Israelites who He truly was.  He WAS and IS the only ONE TRUE GOD!  He wanted to SHOW His children this!  He knew that it would mean more to them to SHOW who He truly was than if He just TOLD them.  God was aware that actions speak louder than words! 
 
Because the Israelites were so important to God, it was vital to God that they SEE His power and LOVE for them before He brought them out of Egypt.  He wanted His children to be able to trust Him.  The ten plagues and other Godly signs were Yahweh's way of introducing Himself to His children as being the ONE TRUE GOD! 
 
It is not until later that God commands His children to ONLY worship Him.  Don’t you find this incredibly loving?  The waiting on God's part demonstrates so much LOVE.  God took the time to PROVE Himself to His children BEFORE He asked them to follow Him out of Egypt.  Next He waited a little longer before He commanded them to ONLY worship Him.  He wanted them to KNOW Him before He gave this command. 
 
LATER in Exodus:  20: 3-5: (NKJV) 3“You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.

God Led His Children
After the Israelites escaped from Egypt they then began their pilgrimage to the Promised Land (Canaan).  It is important for us to see that God NEVER left His children alone on this journey.  He was with the Israelites in the wilderness every step of the way.  He was there right beside them and He wanted them to know this. Just like any loving father would, He wanted to reassure His children.  He wanted them to feel safe and confident on their journey, so He created a special way to let His presence be known.  God used a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide them.  The Israelites could look up anytime day or night and see that God was with them! Do you see His love? 
 
The presence of the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night is INCREDIBLE!! Knowing that God was WITH His children EVERY step of the way should give you SO MUCH comfort!  If He was with them that means He is with YOU!!!  GOD NEVER CHANGES! :) 
 
Exodus 13: 20-22 (NKJV) 20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. 
 
Important FACTS we should not miss from these verses: 
 
The verb "went" in Hebrew is "halak" which means to walk...  at times it can mean to carry also. 
 
God LITERALLY walked with them, sometimes even carried them.  Isn't this amazing! 
 
The word "cloud" comes from a Hebrew word “anan” which means to cover or protect. 
 
God was not only leading them...  He was also PROTECTING and COVERING them! 
 
The word "pillar" in Hebrew is "ammud" which is a noun for a column or pillar which stands firmly never-changing. The verb form "amad" means literally to stand. 
 
God continuously stood firmly with them.  He never sat. He never rested. He was constantly protecting and guiding them. 


 Connection to Us
 
Just as the Israelites were on a journey to their promised land (Canaan), You too are on a journey to our promised land - Heaven.  
 
God provided the Israelites with a pillar to lead and protect them.   He also provides you with a pillar: The Holy Spirit! 
 
The Israelites' pillar was always standing - always leading and protecting them. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is always standing and is always ready to lead and protect you.   God never left the Israelites alone on the wilderness road; day or night He was there.   In the same way, He will never leave you on your wilderness road.  He never sleeps. Day or night, He is always there! 
 
He walked with them and carried them.   He will do the same for you! 
 
The Israelites had to stay alert and FOLLOW His lead.  They had to stop when their pillar guide stopped, and move when it moved.   You must do the same!  You must intentionally STAY on God's path!  You must not walk ahead of God and not lag too far behind God!  
 
Following right behind God is sometimes difficult to do.  Even people who have put their faith in God for years struggle with this. The key is patience.  For most of us, the hardest part is WAITING.  God rarely gives people a clear sign of what to do at the onset of a situation, but He has a SET PLAN.  His plan usually involves GROWTH before MOVEMENT.  In God's plan He has things He wants to teach us and show us BEFORE He asks us to move.  Most people struggle with this.  They think that God's lack of direction in their lives means one of two things: either God isn't listening; OR He is wanting them to figure it out on their own.  Neither is the case. 
 
In most cases, if you do not get a direction from God to move - DON’T MOVE!  
 
This is the hardest thing for many people!  The majority of individuals are not good at WAITING.  People have barged through many WRONG doors and have regretted the consequences.  
 
Praying is essential. Staying IN HIS WORD is vital.  WAITING on Him to direct you is critical! Even if you have been a Christian for many years the act of waiting is probably still difficult for you. 
 
 
God sometimes leads people by CLOSING wrong doors on their paths.... Jobs they should not take, houses they should not buy, people they should not date, etc. When God closes doors we must learn to look at those shut doors as BLESSINGS. The Lord has something BETTER in store for us - we just have to WAIT on Him!! 
 

 
Lesson Three Discussion Questions
 
Many Christians still struggle in their walk with God. It is sometimes difficult for us to stay right behind Him.  We tend to want to run ahead of God on many occasions.  This is a grave way to live our lives.  By running ahead of God, we are acting like we KNOW more than HE does!!!  This will quickly lead us to disaster. 
 
The biggest problem for many is that we don't always KNOW what God wants us to do! He does not always VERBALLY tell us! For me, I have only heard The Lord's voice 3 times in my life.... Mostly God leads me by shutting and opening doors along my path. 
 
1.  How do YOU know God's will? 
 
 
 
2.  Have YOU ever heard God's voice? 
 
 
 
3.  Has He ever led you by closing and opening doors? 
 
 
 
4.  What do YOU do if you are not sure of God's will in your life? 
 
 
 
5.  Do you ever rush ahead of God and then regret the outcome? 
 
 
 
6.  Did God bring anyone into your life to comfort you and lead you closer to Him? 
 
 
 
7.  Do you find it easy or difficult to let God have your pain?  Why? 
 
 
 
8.  How has God grown you through a painful experience?