"The Lord was going
before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them
on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give
them light, that they might travel by day and by
night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by
day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before
the people" (Exodus 13:21-22).
The fire in the pillar of
the cloud was the same as that in which the Lord
revealed Himself to Moses out of the bush, and
afterwards descended upon Sinai amidst thunder and
lightning in a thick cloud. It was a symbol of the
"zeal of the Lord." This sign of the presence of God
did not depart from Israel so long as the people
continued in the wilderness.
symbolized God's presence.
The cloud of glory guided
the people of Israel during their wilderness
experience. It changed from a cloud by day to a
pillar of fire at night.
This was no ordinary
cloud in the sky. Its origin was supernatural. By
day it appeared as a dark cloud in contrast with the
light of the sun, however at night it was a fiery
However, when it stood
still above the tabernacle, or came down upon it, it
must have been the most awesome scene of glory.
We find examples of the
LORD guiding and protecting the people with the
cloud in Exodus 14:13-25. "The angel of God, who had
been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went
behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from
before them and stood behind them. So it came
between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel;
and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet
it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come
near the other all night" (14:19-20). When the cloud
moved, the people followed it. When it stopped,
everybody stopped. In the night time the cloud was a
great column of brilliant light, and all night long
the radiance from that cloud brightly illuminated
the entire camp so that no night ever touched them
for forty years. As soon as the sun rose, the fire
became a white cloud.
When this cloud went
before the army of Israel, it assumed the form of a
column; so that by day it resembled a dark column of
smoke rising up towards heaven, and by night a
column of fire, to show the whole army what
direction to take. You can imagine the horror that
such a sight struck in the heart of the enemies. If
an enemy was pursuing them that cloud moved around,
got in between them, and turned a hot, fiery face to
the adversary. If it were daytime, the cloud turned
a dark impenetrable darkness over them.
The cloud of glory
hovered over the Tabernacle in Exodus 40:34-38. The
Tabernacle in the wilderness was God's dwelling
place on the earth among His people. When Israel
entered the Promised Land the cloud became the
Shekinah on the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple.
In Solomon's Temple the cloud symbolized the LORD's
presence (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
The prophets spoke of the
light that radiated from the cloud (Isaiah 60:1, 19;
9:2; Psalm 27:1).
"The people who walk in
darkness will see a great light; those who live in a
dark land, the light will shine on them" (Isaiah
"Arise, shine; for your
light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen
upon you" (Isaiah 60:1). "No longer will you have
the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will
the moon give you light; but you will have the Lord
for an everlasting light, and your God for your
glory" (Isaiah 60:19).
The ancient rabbis said,
"Light is the name of the Messiah."
The Light of the
world has come.
The closing of the first
day of the Feast of the Tabernacles had arrived and
Jesus was teaching in the Temple in the Court of the
Women. Four great candelabra, with four great golden
bowls of oil, were prepared for the celebration. As
the evening approached a great crowd of people
arrived for the lighting of the candelabra. When
darkness fell four youths of priestly lineage
climbed on ladders and lit the great torches. There
was such a blaze of light that suddenly the darkness
was pierced with such a light that it is said to
have illuminated every street and square in the city
of Jerusalem. The light could be seen for miles
around Jerusalem. It is in this very court, at
possibly the very moment of the lighting that Jesus
cried out: "I am the light of the world." In effect,
Jesus was saying, "You have seen the blaze of the
Temple illumination piercing the darkness of the
night. I am the Light of the world. The light in the
Temple is a brilliant light, but in the end it
flickers and dies. I am the Light that lasts
forever." He declared, "I am the Light of the world;
he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but
will have the Light of life" (John 8:12).
Jesus is the light of the
world. He in person is that light. Jesus and no one
else beside him is the light. It is only in the
person of Jesus Christ the attributes of God shine
forth radiantly in the world.
The I AM formula
The people who were
listening to Jesus knew that He was referring to the
pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day that
had guided their forefathers. They called to mind
the Shekinah glory in the Tabernacle and Solomon's
Temple. It was a reminder of the glory of God,
dwelling among His people. Jesus used the "I AM"
formula of Exodus 3:12 and John 8:56-59. It was a
supreme claim to Deity and the Messiah. Campbell
Morgan said, "These are the worlds of the most
impudent blasphemer that ever spoke, or the words of
Jesus gives sight
to the blind.
Just before healing the
blind man Jesus said, "While I am in the world, I am
the Light of the world" (John 9:5). Later Jesus
cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, does not
believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me
sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into
the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will
not remain in darkness" (John 12:44-46).
The word "light" is a
metaphor for spiritual illumination. When Jesus
claimed to be the Light, He was claiming to be the
possessor and bearer of the divine truth of
salvation. He is the final and complete revelation
of God to man. In Him, we find divine instruction.
He was claiming to be the only one who gives
everlasting salvation. He is the active light that
conquers all spiritual darkness.
The Apostle John saw
Jesus as the Light. "In Him was life, and the life
was the Light of men. The Light shines in the
darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it"
(John 1:4-5). John the Baptizer "came as a witness,
to testify about the Light, so that all might
believe through him. He was not the Light, but he
came to testify about the Light. There was the true
Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every
man" (vv. 7-9).
Jesus Christ promised
spiritual life to all who will believe in His light.
He promises that we will "not walk in darkness, but
shall have the light of life." No one could make
that promise but God. He illuminates the spirit and
soul of men who are in a state of spiritual
blindness. He brings conviction by the light He
gives. The light of the Lord Jesus Christ reveals
our spiritual darkness and spiritual blindness.
Jesus said, "He who
follows Me," i.e., trusts and obeys Him receives
spiritual life. As the Light of the world Jesus must
be followed like the pillar of fire in the desert.
When we follow Jesus we enter into a permanent
spiritual relationship with Him. The Apostle John
testified to this fact: "This is the message we have
heard from Him and announce to you, that God is
Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we
say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in
the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
but 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" (1
When we receive Jesus as
the Light He comes into our lives and makes
available to us a life that radiates from the life
in communion with Him. We are the light of the world
because of our intimate love relationship with Him.
He gives a radiated light. Jesus told His disciples:
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a
hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp
and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and
it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your
light shine before men in such a way that they may
see your good works, and glorify your Father who is
in heaven" (Mathew 5:14-16). You cannot live the
Christian life without the inner light that He gives
the believer. He is our source of spiritual light.
Our witness is a reflected light that comes from
Christ. We give Him our darkness and He gives us His
light. He is the Light that ignites the oil of the
Spirit in our lives.
The bright and
If that were not enough
to light our soul and set it on fire, there is a day
coming when we will look at the heavenly city all
bathed in the translucent light of the glory of the
Lamb of God. "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord
God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And
the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to
shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it,
and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by
its light, and the kings of the earth will bring
their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will
be no night there) its gates will never be closed;
and they will bring the glory and the honor of the
nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who
practices abomination and lying, shall ever come
into it, but only those whose names are written in
the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:22-27).
That is not all. John
went on to describe the New Heaven: "And there will
no longer be any night; and they will not have need
of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun,
because the Lord God will illumine them; and they
will reign forever and ever" (22:5). Indeed He is
the "bright and morning star" (v. 16).
Have you come to the
Light and experienced His saving grace? To those who
sit in darkness of unbelief and impurity He is
holiness. You can come out of spiritual darkness
right now by putting your trust in the Light.
13:21-22 The Pillar of Fire
Christ in the Old Testament