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HE WHO OVERCOMES SHALL INHERIT ALL THINGS,

and I will be his God and he shall be My son

1Corinthians 10 (part 4) The CLOUD

1 Corinthians Chapter 10
Our Journey
(part 4)
 

The CLOUD

 

“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”
-
1Cor 10:1-2 NKJV

Following the Passover, which we looked at little at in part 2, God’s people began their journey toward the land of promise. What Joseph had prophesied hundreds of years earlier was beginning to be fulfilled. As his personal journey through this life neared its end, “Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” (Gen 50:24)

The promise was not just that Israel would go into the land, but that God Himself would bring them there. He would be with them on their journey, He would lead them in the way they should go.

“For I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, that our forefathers were all under and protected by the cloud [in which God’s Presence went before them], and every one of them passed safely through the [Red] Sea.” – 1Cor 10:1 AMP

Paul in his letter to the saints in Corinth (and to disciples throughout the ages) is comparing the experiences of Israel in the wilderness with our Christian walk toward the “rest of God.” Let us explore the significance of the cloud that appeared right after they were saved and began their journey -
“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.
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.”
- Ex 13:17-18,20-22 NKJV

The “pillar of cloud” was the Presence of Almighty God in the midst of the people whom He had set free from bondage. God didn’t just save the Israelites out of captivity and then leave them on their own; He actually came down and was visibly present among them to calm them and guide them.

“The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.”
- Deut 1:30-31 NAS

God did not leave or abandon Israel as a whole. But sadly, as we will see as we continue our study, there were many individuals who forsook the Lord and disobeyed His Word, and they were disqualified. Because of their unfaithfulness to the Covenant, although they had been saved and set free, they removed themselves from the covering of God’s grace and mercy. As the Lord would tell them later, with Truth that is eternal, “you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more.” (Judges 10:13 ESV). We’ll look closer at this in a bit…


So, when God delivered His people out of Egypt and gave them the hope of the promised land, He went before them, and was with them in the form of the “pillar of cloud… and pillar of fire.” Remember this was His God’s idea to begin with. He chose this people, beginning with Abram, to whom He confirmed His covenant appearing as a “smoking fire pot and a flaming torch.” (Gen 15:17) We may get into this at another time, but we know from the Scripture that “our God is a consuming fire” (Deut 9:3, Heb 12:29); He appeared to Moses as a fire, He led Israel through the desert as a pillar of fire, and the Lord Jesus came to baptize us with the “Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

And after a period in which God commanded all the people consecrate themselves, He appeared the third day to meet with them and confirm His covenant and set forth His Law.

“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.”
Ex 19:16-18 NKJV

God came to meet His chosen priesthood and all the people to instruct them.

“the Lord spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice.” - Deut 5:22

And He gave commands for His people to follow and established the priesthood. If they would believe and obey, all the blessings of God would come upon them and then after their time of testing and sanctification they would enter into their inheritance.

And He told them plainly, as He tells His chosen ones today -

“Obey Me, and do everything that I command you, and you will be My people, and I will be your God.”
– Jer 11:4 HCSB

The Word tells us of those who heard and heeded what God commanded -

“Moses and Aaron were among His priests;
Samuel also was among those calling on His name.
They called to Yahweh and He answered them.
He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud;
they kept His decrees and the statutes He gave them.”

- Psalm 99:6-7 HCSB

Will we listen to the One who spoke from the cloud and from the fire, even the One whose voice Jesus’ closest disciples heard out of the cloud when they were on the mountain?

“a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matt 17:5)

Truly, for those who will “listen to Him” He will lead and protect. As we read earlier, the promise written to encourage the faithful saints in Hebrews 13:5 -

“The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
- Deut 31:8 HCSB

From the moment the people of Israel departed Egypt, the Lord was there to lead them. And He did not forsake them. When Pharaoh’s heart was hardened one last time and he gathered his troops to pursue the Israelites, the Presence of God in the cloud moved to protect them, even as they began to grumble against Moses whom He had sent.

“And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
 – Ex 14:10-14 NKJV

Time and again, the Lord would show Himself strong on behalf of those He delivered. What a sight and experience this final deliverance from Pharaoh must have been! And saints, this is the same God we serve.

And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.”
– Ex 14:19-20 NKJV

When we are set free from our bondage to sin, the enemy is not pleased. Attacks often come not from flesh and blood but from principalities, powers and rulers of the darkness, from the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly realm (see Eph 6:12). 

When the darkness of the world tries to overtake us, may we not complain and murmur as did the Israelites, but rather stand on His promises, be encouraged, and remember that, as we studied in part 3, He has “qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:12-14 NKJV) and He “gives power and strength to His people.” (Psalm 68:35)

This ultimately is about darkness and light. God separated Light from the darkness in the very beginning (Gen 1:4), and He has been calling a people out of darkness into Light ever since. The same charge given to Israel in Deuteronomy 7:6 is the same to His elect, His Church, today –

 “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light(1Pet 2:9 NKJV), andHis divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2Pet 1:3). We have the ability to stand, as we “walk in the Light.”

Darkness is the absence of Light. When Jesus came, He said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in the darkness.” (John 12:46)

We must choose to walk in the Way God has provided no matter where He leads; just as His Presence in the cloud led the Israelites “by the way of the wilderness” for He knew best what was needed for His people.

It is not where we are that matters so much, but Who is leading us. Remember Noah was in the midst of the Flood; Shadrach, Meshach & Abed-nego were in the midst of the fire and Daniel was in the lion’s den. But there was another there with them. As well, in our own necessary wilderness there will be One there to guide us, if we choose to follow.

“if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1:7 HCSB)

Indeed this is God’s purpose – to remove all sin from His Kingdom. That’s the “baptism into the cloud” which we will look at in part 5. He has set us free; now “by the Spirit” we must be “putting to death the deeds of the flesh.” This we must choose to do. We must choose to come to the Light “that has come into the world.”

The same cloud, the same Presence of God was light to Israel, but darkness to the Egyptians. In the New Testament we find the same thing concerning the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the manifested Word of God.

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1Cor 1:18 NAS

And we see what happened at the Red Sea. The enemies of the Lord perished in the sea, while those who walked in the way were saved.

“Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. 29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.” - Ex 14:28-31 NKJV

So the Lord, in the cloud, delivered His people from the enemy and led them to safety.

“in Your many mercies did not abandon them in the desert. The column of cloud that was over them in the day did not cease to leave them on the way, and the column of fire by night that gave light to them on the way that they went. 20 And You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them.” – Neh 9:19-20 LEB

This was the problem for the majority of the people in the Exodus: they heeded not the instruction of the Lord given from the cloud on the mountain.

I’ve heard many say that they wish God would just show Himself, then they could really believe that He was with them. Would we really believe any more than we do now?
These had a very visible Presence of Almighty God among them, yet as we see, it often did not change them or what they believe. It was more often their immediate circumstances that directed their attitudes and actions. So, even with the Presence of God in plain sight they still did their own thing and followed their own lusts.

God’s promise of protection did not continually abide upon each one just because He had saved them; rather He was a bulwark to those who were “with Him”, seeking and submitting to Him, and walking in His ways.

The promise God made to the descendants of Israel would only come to those individuals who remained faithful. As the Scripture says, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” (Rom 9:6b) But there was (is) always a remnant.

The same is True of the promises to God’s Elect who have been “grafted into the olive tree”; we must remain faithful and overcome if we are to receive the promises. Honestly, we cannot claim the promises unless we meet the conditions. Yes, our salvation is free; the gifts of the Spirit are freely given; but if we are to enter into our inheritance we must remain on the path no matter where it leads, and trust in what our God has said.

Saints, let us know that God’s promise to restore Creation to Himself through Christ is without a doubt going to happen. But as well, let us know that His promise to us as individuals is contingent on our faithfulness and obedience. You will never hear this Truth on the Christian radio station or preached from the pulpits Sunday morning, but the Word of God to the king (who repented when he heard the prophet speak) has not changed. This is an unchanging Kingdom Principle for those whom He has called -

“The Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”
- 2Chron 15:2 NAS

We often hear the encouragement given specifically to Joshua and Solomon “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deut 31:8, 1Chron 28:20) And we apply this promise to every church-goer that has been saved. Indeed, the “mercy of the Lord endures forever”, but He will not remain with those who refuse to obey and surrender their will and lives to Christ. If we claim Him to be our Lord and Savior, but “deny Him by our works” He will deny us.

“This saying is trustworthy:
For if we have died with Him,
we will also live with Him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him, He will also deny us;
13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself.”

- 2Tim 2:11-13 HCSB

We’ve mistakenly taught this “denying” of Him as those in the world refusing to “accept Him”, but this is written to those who have been “saved”, and who “profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.” (Titus 1:16)

When we come to understand that when we “get saved” we have only begun the journey the whole of Scripture begins to make so much more sense. If salvation from bondage to the world were the end, God would have immediately placed the Israelites into the Promised Land the moment they crossed the Red Sea; and the Land would have been free of giants and all enemies of God. His chosen people would have entered instantly into bliss. But He did not. For God know that if He just gave them everything because of His love and grace, they would have blown it even worse than did Adam & Eve.

In fact, God foreknew that, as a whole, many of Israel would disqualify themselves even after He had prepared them and brought them into the Land; and He forewarned Moses & Joshua. As the time of Moses personal journey neared its end and the leadership would be transferred to Joshua, “the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent. 16 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant that I have made with them. 17 Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them.”- Deut 31:15-17 ESV

Friends, the promises in the Scripture made to the Church indeed will come to pass. Our part, individually, is to remain part of the One True Church, by walking faithfully, following the One who appeared in the cloud and who dwells in the Light. Church membership or a profession of faith or being “saved” is not a guarantee of the promise; we must “endure til the end”, we must “walk worthy” if we are to enter into our inheritance. This is what Paul is stressing in this passage we’re studying from 1Corinthians 10.

“let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” – 1Cor 10:12


Remember Jesus’ parable of the seed? Many received the seed with joy (were “saved”), but fell away when troubles or temptation came. Will we be like the Israelites whom Paul writes about in 1Cor 10, or like the Apostles of Christ in the New Testament?

Paul and Timothy faced much persecution during their ministry, sometimes figuratively looking across a seemingly uncrossable sea of trouble. Yet they trusted in God.

“we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.” 
- 2Cor 1:8-10 NKJV

The Israelites continually did not trust that the Lord would deliver them: from Pharaoh, from hunger & thirst, from the giants in Canaan… Except for Joshua & Caleb.

In the NT, Paul & Timothy & Silas believed, and were continually delivered. Then again, we find Peter being saved from his captors by an angel of the Lord in Acts –

“Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” – Acts 12:5-8 NKJV

And our Savior has promised to lead us and protect us as well. We may suffer physically, emotionally, or even mentally (our greatest battle is in our “mind.”) We see this in the lives of many of the prophets & disciples. But eternally He will keep us and preserve us, and we shall come forth victorious in that Day if we trust and obey.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
 So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”

- Heb 13:5-6 NKJV

What can mere man do? Even the giants in Canaan? If God has declared a thing, it will come to pass; and if we do not shrink back or bury our talent, we will be a part of it. Even as the world is in turmoil today and God’s people face persecution both from the physical and spiritual realms, God is not over-concerned about what His enemies are doing, and in fact, is using their wicked schemes to perfect His anointed ones.

“Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”

- Psalm 2:1-6 NKJV

As Jesus told Pilate, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11). Man can do nothing except the Lord allows it, so ultimately it is only Him we are to fear.

Jesus told His followers, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear God…” (Matt 10:28)

Man, it is so easy to get off on a trail when digging into the Word! So much Truth to be discovered. Let me try to conclude this before we get off to far….


What I see is whereas the Israelites had the visible Presence of God in the cloud and in the fire, we now have His Holy Spirit with us and in us. Same God, same plan, same eternal purpose. As Israel was on a journey toward an inheritance, so too is the Church, the “Israel of God”, today, on a journey toward an eternal inheritance. And we will make it if we do not follow the example of the bulk of those in the wilderness between Egypt & Canaan whose “dead bodies were scattered over the desert” because, although they were “saved”, “God was not pleased with most of them.” (1Cor 10:5). Their disobedience brought upon them their own destruction. They didn’t believe what God said. Now, we who have been “saved”, do we believe what He said? For if we will believe and obey His commands, His Presence will be with us and guide us. Not as the visible cloud or fire perhaps, but in the spiritual manifestation of His Spirit.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
– John 14:15-17 NKJV

“when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all Truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
– John 16:13-14 NKJV

When God would have spoken to the people from the cloud they feared and told Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex 20:19).

He is speaking to His Church today. Are we afraid to hear; fearful of His charge to us, or His conviction of our unrepentant sin? Truthfully, we may die spiritually if we choose not to hear Him.


“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes…”


God’s wisdom and understanding to all.


Next… BAPTISM

 

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