Do You Discern the Evidence of God’s Guidance?
NEITHER the Israelites nor the Egyptians had seen anything like it before. As the Israelites made their Exodus from Egypt, a pillar of cloud hovered near them and stayed with them day in and day out. At night it became a pillar of fire. How awe-inspiring! But where did it come from? What was its purpose? And what can we, some 3,500 years later, learn from the way that Israel regarded “the pillar of fire and cloud”?—Ex. 14:24.
God’s Word reveals the source and the purpose of the pillar, stating: “Jehovah was going ahead of them in the daytime in a pillar of cloud to lead them by the way, and in the nighttime in a pillar of fire to give them light to go in the daytime and nighttime.” (Ex. 13:21, 22) Jehovah God used the pillar of fire and cloud to guide his people out of Egypt and through the wilderness. They had to be ready to move in order to follow it. When the pursuing Egyptian forces were about to attack God’s people, the pillar moved between the two groups, protecting the Israelites. (Ex. 14:19, 20) Though the pillar did not indicate the most direct route, following its lead was the only way for Israel to get to the Promised Land.
The presence of the pillar assured God’s people that Jehovah was with them. It represented Jehovah, and at times he spoke out of it. (Num. 14:14; Ps. 99:7) Further, the cloud identified Moses as the one appointed by Jehovah to lead the nation. (Ex. 33:9) Likewise, the last recorded appearance of the cloud confirmed Jehovah’s appointment of Joshua as Moses’ successor. (Deut. 31:14, 15) Indeed, the successful outcome of the Exodus depended on the Israelites’ discerning the evidence of God’s guidance and then following it.
They Lost Sight of the Evidence
When the Israelites saw that pillar for the first time, they must have been awestruck. Sadly, though, that constantly present miracle did not impress the Israelites enough to fill them with lasting confidence in Jehovah. They challenged God’s guidance several times. When the Egyptian army pursued them, they showed no trust in Jehovah’s saving power. Instead, they accused God’s servant Moses of having led them toward their death. (Ex. 14:10-12) After their deliverance through the Red Sea, they murmured against Moses, Aaron, and Jehovah because of the presumed lack of food and water. (Ex. 15:22-24; 16:1-3; 17:1-3, 7) And some weeks after that, they pressured Aaron into making a golden calf. Just imagine! In one section of their camp, the Israelites saw the pillar of fire and cloud—the majestic evidence of the One who had led them out of Egypt—and not far from there, they began worshipping a lifeless idol, saying: “This is your God, O Israel, who led you up out of the land of Egypt.” What “great acts of disrespect”!—Ex. 32:4; Neh. 9:18.
Israel’s rebellious acts demonstrated striking disregard for Jehovah’s guidance. The problem was not with their physical sight but with their spiritual outlook. They saw the pillar, but they no longer appreciated its meaning. Though their actions “pained even the Holy One of Israel,” Jehovah mercifully kept on providing guidance by means of the pillar until Israel reached the Promised Land.—Ps. 78:40-42, 52-54; Neh. 9:19.
See the Evidence of Divine Guidance Today
Similarly in modern times, Jehovah has never left his people without clear guidance. Just as he did not expect the Israelites to scout out their own route, we today are not asked to find the way into the promised new world on our own. Jesus Christ is the assigned Leader of the congregation. (Matt. 23:10; Eph. 5:23) He has delegated some authority to a faithful slave class, made up of faithful spirit-anointed Christians. That slave class, in turn, appoints overseers in the Christian congregation.—Matt. 24:45-47; Titus 1:5-9.
How can we be sure of the identity of that faithful slave, or steward, class? Notice how Jesus himself describes it: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave, if his master on arriving finds him doing so!”—Luke 12:42, 43.
Hence, the steward class is “faithful,” never betraying or abandoning Jehovah, Jesus, Bible truths, or God’s people. Being “discreet,” the steward class shows good judgment in directing the all-important work of preaching the “good news of the kingdom” and making “disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) “At the proper time,” the steward class obediently distributes spiritual food that is wholesome and nourishing. Jehovah’s approval is seen in how he blesses his people with increase, guidance in important decisions, better comprehension of Bible truths, safeguards against annihilation at the hands of their enemies, and peace of mind and heart.—Isa. 54:17; Phil. 4:7.
Respond to God’s Guidance
How can we show that we appreciate God’s guidance? The apostle Paul said: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive.” (Heb. 13:17) Doing so may not always be easy. To illustrate: Put yourself in the place of an Israelite in Moses’ day. Imagine that after you have been walking for some time, the pillar comes to a halt. How long will it stay there? A day? A week? Several months? You wonder, ‘Is it worth unpacking all my possessions?’ First, you may unpack only the most necessary items. Yet, after a few days, frustrated at searching through your belongings, you begin to unpack everything. But then, just when you have about finished unpacking, you see the pillar lifting—and you have to start packing again! That would not be so easy or convenient. Still, the Israelites had to “pull away right afterward.”—Num. 9:17-22.
How, then, do we react when we receive divine direction? Do we try to apply it “right afterward”? Or do we continue doing things just as we have been accustomed to doing them? Are we familiar with up-to-date directions, such as those regarding conducting home Bible studies, preaching to foreign-speaking people, regularly sharing in family worship, cooperating with Hospital Liaison Committees, and conducting ourselves properly at conventions? We also show our appreciation for God’s guidance by accepting counsel. When faced with far-reaching decisions, we do not trust in our own wisdom but look to Jehovah and his organization for guidance. And just as a child seeks his parents’ protection when a storm rages, we seek protection in Jehovah’s organization when, like a thunderstorm, the problems of this world strike us.
Of course, those taking the lead in the earthly part of God’s organization are not perfect—but neither was Moses. Even so, the pillar provided constant evidence of his divine appointment and of God’s approval. Note, too, that it was not for each Israelite to determine when to start moving. Instead, the people acted “at the order of Jehovah by means of Moses.” (Num. 9:23) Thus Moses, God’s channel of direction, likely gave the signal to move.
Today, Jehovah’s steward class gives a clear signal whenever it is time to make a move. How does the steward do that? By means of articles in The Watchtower and Our Kingdom Ministry, new publications, and talks at assemblies and conventions. Instructions are also conveyed to the congregations through traveling overseers or through letters or training sessions attended by brothers having congregation responsibilities.
Do you clearly discern the evidence of divine guidance? Jehovah uses his organization to guide us, his people, through “the wilderness” during these last days of Satan’s wicked world. As a result, we enjoy unity, love, and security.
After Israel reached the Promised Land, Joshua said: “You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you.” (Josh. 23:14) Likewise, God’s people today will without fail reach the promised new world. However, whether we personally will be there depends to no small degree on our humble willingness to follow God’s direction. Therefore, may we all keep on discerning the evidence of Jehovah’s guidance!
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We are being guided by Jehovah’s organization today
Training at meetings for service