Guardian by Dr. Abidan Shah

 

GUARDIAN by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Until the coming of the internet, clouds were simply those puffy white things up in the sky. If they turned gray, then you better take an umbrella with you because it will rain. In the age of the internet, we now know of another cloud, but this one has to do with data storage, servers, networking, and backup. Everything is on the cloud now. God’s people knew of another cloud 3500 years ago. This was God’s guardian presence among his people – guarding, guiding, and speaking with them. In today’s message, we’re going to learn that God’s guardian presence is still with his people. It is not up in a cloud somewhere but in the heart of every believer through the Holy Spirit. It is the presence of Christ, guarding, guiding, and speaking to us. Christ is our true guardian through the journey of life. That’s the title of our message today – GUARDIAN. By the way, I love this cartoon – “Here’s the tablets I told you about Mo…there’s no upgrades planned, but they do come with cloud support!”

Exodus 12     37 “Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. 38 A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.”

Context: After the tenth plague of the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh conceded to let God’s people leave Egypt. This was no small group of people. According to some estimates, as many as 3 million people began the journey from a place called Rameses in Goshen and headed to Succoth, the final city before leaving Egypt’s eastern borders. From there, they came to place called Etham, which means fortress. There were a number of such fortresses that lined Egypt’s northeastern boundary. Think about it: Yes, Pharaoh had told them they could go. Yes, the land of Egypt was a wreck. Yes, the people of Egypt were scared. Yes, the children of Israel were big in number. But, they were still walking through the land of Egypt. They were still not out of harm’s way. In fact, they were walking right past these Egyptian fortresses with plenty of Egyptian soldiers and chariots who had plenty of hate and resentment in their hearts towards them! Less than 24 hours ago they were simply slaves! Who was leading them? What was protecting them? Why didn’t the Egyptians stop them? Listen to Exodus 13     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.” WOW! Think about the most ominous stormy cloud you’ve ever seen. This was worse!

Any wonder that no one stopped them! The Egyptians believed in Set, the god of storm. The Canaanites believed in Baal, the storm god, who was also called the cloud-rider. But, God was just getting started. He led the people to set up camp in a place called Pi Hahiroth, which was right in front of the Red Sea. This would seem to be a horrible tactical decision to bring the people to a dead end, but God had a plan for Pharaoh. He knew the reach of Egypt and that Pharaoh would not give up. Just when the people would be entering the Promised Land, he would come after them. So, God hardened his heart. Listen to Exodus 14      5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel…” This was a massive force that came after God’s people! This was probably couple of thousand chariots with soldiers! Remember, he was trying to round up 3 million people!

What was the response of the children of Israel? They were very afraid and they cried to the Lord and to Moses. Listen to Moses’s response in Exodus 14     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.” Then, God commanded Moses to stretch his rod over the Red Sea to divide so the people could go on dry land. Now, listen carefully to what happened next – Exodus 14    19 “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.”

First, who is the Angel of the Lord? Several times in the Old Testament, people encountered the Angel of the Lord: Jacob met him in a dream at Bethel. Moses saw him in the burning bush. In the book of Judges, a man named Manoah and his wife had a visit from him promising them a child who would later be Samson. Two things happened in that encounter: First, when Manoah asked the Angel of the Lord for his name, he replied in Judges 13:18 “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” This was the name given to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” Second, Manoah offered a sacrifice to God and the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! Then Manoah realized that this was no ordinary angel and said to his wife in Judges 13:22 “…We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” The Angel of the Lord was the second person of the godhead because no one has ever seen the Father and the Spirit. So, it was the pre-incarnate Christ in the pillar of cloud! Exodus 14    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.” This was much more than just some dust cloud in the field. It had to block about a couple of thousand chariots! As the children of Israel crossed over on dry ground, listen to what the Angel of the Lord did 24 “Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians.”

Application: How do you know Jesus? If you don’t receive him as a merciful Savior, you will meet him as a righteous Judge.

  1. The Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ, GUARDED the people of Israel through the pillar of fire and cloud.

Application: Do you believe that God is guarding you? Why are you so afraid?

What else did he do for his people?

  1. He GUIDED his people through the cloud and fire in their journey and sojourn in the wilderness.

Exodus 40.    36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

Application: Who is guiding you through your journey? Who is guiding you through this pandemic? It’s important to listen to the experts but don’t forget the Expert.

  1. He COMMUNICATED with his people through the cloud. Exodus 33 9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. 10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door.

Application: As you journey through your wilderness, who are you allowing to speak into your life? 5 minutes with the Savior is worth far more than 5 hours of scrolling.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get it. Listen to how Moses described their rejection of the presence of God with them in Deuteronomy 1      31 “and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32 Yet, for all that, you did not believe the LORD your God, 33 who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.”

What does all this have to do with us? 1 Corinthians 10      1 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, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Do you see the pillar of cloud? Do you see the pillar of fire? We live by faith. We live believing that these things are happening today even though we cannot see them with our naked eyes. Someone might say, “It would help if we had a pillar of cloud and fire.” If they didn’t believe seeing the things they saw, hearing the things they heard, and feeling the things they felt, we won’t either.

So, where do we stand now? Someone might say, “I guess it is a faith battle for us.” Not really. It was just as much a faith battle for them. In fact, it was worse because they were still in the middle of it. The final act hadn’t happened – Jesus coming, dying, and rising again, as promised in the Scriptures. They didn’t have a complete picture. They sort of understood where they were headed. We have the complete picture! What more do we need! We have to believe looking back that all this happened.

By the way, just know that when you start living by faith, there will be people who will come and wave their hands before your face and ask, “Are you okay?” When you tell them about the cloud, they will say something like “I believe too! But, I’m also a realist!”

Can you see Jesus? Can you sense his guarding and guiding presence? Can you hear his voice? Only through the Holy Spirit you can. He only comes into our lives when we receive Jesus as our Savior and King. Are you saved?

What is Jesus Doing in Your Life? – Part Two

WHAT IS JESUS DOING IN YOUR LIFE? – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

What is Jesus Doing 2Introduction: This is our last message in the miniseries “Before the Manger.” The purpose of this series was to understand that Jesus was not just some baby born in a manger 2000 years ago. He was also the Son of God, the King of Glory who had no beginning. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, who appeared throughout the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord. Now we are in the second part of the message – “What is Jesus doing for you?”

John 5 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life…45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Overall Background: In the passage we just read, Jesus is chastising the Pharisees and the scribes for their failure to recognize Him. Listen again to verse 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. In other words, “You are so diligent in studying the Old Testament, but you’re so blind that you keep missing Me. Ever said that to somebody? “How can you be so blind? You missed the point completely!” Again he says in verse 46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.” Listen carefully: If you try to study this book but ignore Jesus, you will miss the point of this book. I am not suggesting that He is in every syllable and every word but He is the focus and the fulfillment of this book.

Last week we learned that the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is the Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament. 1. He revealed God in the OT. He revealed God in the NT. He is still revealing God to His people today. You want to know more about God, go to Jesus. 2. He called and sent people in the OT. He called and sent people in the NT. He is still calling and sending people today. You want to know what God is calling you to do, look to Jesus. 3. He interceded for His people in the OT. He interceded for His disciples in the NT. He is still interceding for His people today. You want someone to pray for you, ask Jesus to pray for you. Question: What is Jesus doing for you? Is He revealing God to you? Is He calling you? Is He sending you to a task? Is he interceding for you before the Father? Are you saved?

This morning we will look at the remaining ministries of Jesus for His people. Let the Holy Spirit show you how central Jesus is to your life:

I. HE SHOWS COMPASSION TO US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL. 

In the OT Jesus came as the Angel of the Lord to Hagar as she was running away from her mistress Sarah. He finds her sitting by the spring on the way to Shur, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Listen to what He says to her in Genesis 16:10 the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” He even picked the name Ishmael for her. By the way, here you find the seed of the conflict that’s going on in the Middle East. 12 He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” That’s exactly what’s been happening for centuries? Now listen to Hagar’s response to the Angel of the Lord in verse 13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You–Are–the–God–Who–Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Later He showed compassion to Hagar again when she and Ishmael left for good.

Feeding the 5000In the New Testament Jesus did the same thing. The multitude kept following Him from place to place. Listen to Matthew 14:14 “He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples wanted to send them away so they could find their own food. Instead, Jesus took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed 5000 men, besides women and children. In the next chapter, again, in Matthew 15:32 Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” This time He took 7 loaves and 2 little fish and fed 4000 men, besides women and children.

I can go on and on but the point is this – If you need compassion, turn to Jesus. That’s His job. He always has and He always will show compassion to you.

Question: Do you need compassion in your life? Whom are you turning to? 

II. HE DELIVERS US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL.

In Exodus 3 the Angel of the Lord came to Moses in the wilderness and spoke to him through the burning bush. Listen to verse 7 And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. Jesus notices when people are in bondage but He doesn’t stop there – 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” He is a God who delivers.

In the same way in the New Testament Jesus delivered people out of sin and bondage time and time again. In Mark 5 we read about a man in whom was an unclean spirit, He lived in a graveyard and no one could bind him down. Jesus saw his bondage and delivered him from the unclean spirit. This man sat before Jesus clothed and in his right mind. Again, He rescued Mary Magdalene out of whom he cast out seven demons. I can go on and on. The point is – Jesus has always been in the work of deliverance.

What’s He doing now? He is delivering us from the bondage of sin. Galatians 1:4 (Jesus) “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age…” Again, Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom…”

Here’s the point – If you need deliverance, turn to Jesus. That’s His job. He always has and He always will deliver you.

Question: Are you in bondage? Do you need to be set free? Are you looking to Jesus?

III. HE PROTECTS US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL. 

William-West-Israelites-passing-through-the-wilderness

Israelites passing through the wilderness by William West

In the OT Jesus came as the Angel of the Lord to protect the Hebrews as they left Egypt. Listen to Exodus 13:21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Where does Jesus come in? Listen to Exodus 14:19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, It’s one and the same. Listen to what God says in Exodus 23 20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. This is the same Angel of the Lord who protected Daniel in the lion’s den, as he says in Daniel 6:22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths.”

On the Sea of Galilee

On the Sea of Galilee (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

How about in the NT? In Matthew 8 we find the disciples in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They’re about to drown and they cry out to Jesus in verse 25 “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replies in verse 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. There He is protecting His disciples.

Listen to Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

Here’s the point – If you need protection, turn to Jesus. That’s His job. He always has and He always will protect you.

Question: Do you feel vulnerable? Do you feel you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death? Are you looking to Jesus?

IV. HE JUDGES US. HE ALWAYS HAS AND HE ALWAYS WILL. 

In the OT we come across a very strange passage in I Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. Instead of giving God glory for his success, David began to measure his strength in numbers. God was displeased over this evil. It was judgment time. He gave David 3 choices: 3 years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.’ David chose the 3 days. Now listen to verse 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. (70,000 men died with a plague.) Who was doing this disciplining? The Angel of the Lord. “But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 16 David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown. Did you ever imagine Jesus in that role?

Henry Ian Cusick Visual Bible - The Gospel of JohnHow about the NT? At the Passover Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem. Instead of finding a place of worship, He found the temple filled with livestock and money changers doing business. What did He do next? John 2 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” He sounds very much like the Angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.

Did you realize Jesus as the one who disciplines?

John 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.

In Acts 10:42 Peter says, “He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Invitation: Do you know this Jesus? Bow before Him now or face Him in judgment later.

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