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Types of Christ in the Old Testament

The Pillar of Cloud and Fire as a Type of Christ

From the time of the Exodus until the Israelites entered the Promised Land 40 years later (a trip that originally was intended to have taken only weeks, not years). The Lord led them by day with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire.

Cloud By Day, Fire By Night

Exodus 13:18-22 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. [19] And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. [20] And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. [21] And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: [22] He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (KJV) . . . The pillar of cloud and fire was with the Israelites right from the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt.

When the Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the Israelites go and chased them with his mighty chariot army, the pillar of cloud changed positions from the lead of the Israelite column to the rear, where it blocked the Egyptian army until the sea was parted.

Exodus 14:19-21 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: [20] And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. [21] And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. (KJV) . . . A very clear statement that the Lord was (1) in the pillar of fire and of cloud, and (2) the pillar of fire and of cloud were the same. They only appeared different . . . in the daytime when the "Cloud" was made more visible and the flame less visible by the sunlight, and at night when the Cloud was made less visible and the flame more visible by darkness. Exodus 14:24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, (KJV)

The Lord spoke to Moses directly, "as a man speaks to his friend," from the pillar of cloud.

Exodus 33:7-11 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. [8] And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. [9] And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. [10] And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. [11] And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. (KJV)

The sight of the Cloud by day and the Fire by night was a part of daily life for the Israelites during their entire 40 years in the wilderness.

Exodus 40:34-38 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. [35] And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. [36] And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: [37] But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. [38] For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (KJV)

Just point mouse to Bible verse. It will come up.

The earliest traditions of the Exodus from Egypt refer to the Pillar of Cloud by day and of Fire by night, which accompanied the Children of Israel on their way through the desert (Ex.13:21–22). This visible symbol of the Presence of God (Theophany, Shekinah) caused a panic among the Egyptians as it cut them off from the Israelites (Ex.14:19b, 24a), and continued to guide and protect Israel continually all through their 40 years of wanderings. Later generations remembered it as a special sign of divine favor (Ps.78:14), and it certainly was NO less important than the parting of the Red Sea (Ex.14:26-28). The Pillar of Cloud served not only as a regular Divine Escort marching at the head of the people, but also as an intermittent Presence, descending from time to time to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting when God talked with Moses (Ex.33:9–10; Num. 11:25; 12:5). Some say that "a Cloud of the Lord" (not a pillar) with a fiery appearance by night, permanently covered the Tabernacle from the day of its completion, lifting only to signal the breaking of camp for a new journey (Ex. 40:34–38; Num. 9:15–23; 10:11–12, 34; 14:14). The Divine Presence in Solomon's Temple was likewise accompanied by the descent of the cloud (1 Kings 8:10–11; Ex.16:10; Lev.16:2). The Pillar of Cloud and of Fire did NOT accompany the Israelites into the Promised Land.

Exodus 13:17-22 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: [18] But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. [19] And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. [20] And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. [21] And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: [22] He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (KJV) . . . The people of God, then and now, should follow the Cloud! Follow the Lord; follow the leading and guiding of His Presence and His Holy Spirit. When the Cloud of God (the Presence of the Lord) was moving, it meant that God was moving. Why? To guide them. The pillar of Cloud/Fire was “before (in front) of the people.” That’s ALWAYS where we should keep the Lord . . . in front! Jesus told His disciples to FOLLOW Him (Mat.4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 16:24), NOT to follow their lust filled promptings. The Lord in our lives should be “ahead” of us, leading us, directing us, not following after us cleaning up our messes.

God is Light; this world is FULL of darkness. Look to God and His Word, the BIBLE, to give light to your paths in this life.
Exodus 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. (KJV)
Exodus 14:19-20 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: [20] And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. (KJV) . . . Sometimes the cloud (the Lord’s Presence) moves “behind” us to shield us from our enemies. And as the Cloud did, sometimes the Lord’s Presence brings us Light and our enemies darkness.

Exodus 33:7-9 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. [8] And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. [9] And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. (KJV) . . . The Pillar of Cloud came down as Moses “talked with the Lord.” God is ALWAYS willing to hear our petitions. Prayer keeps us consistently in step with God’s “Cloud.”

Exodus 40:33-35 And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. [34] Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. [35] And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. (KJV) . . . The Cloud of God (His Presence, Theophany, Shekinah) speaks of the glory of God upon His Tabernacle. The New Testament tabernacle/temple is the individual believer (1 Cor. 6:19) and the church is filled with God's glory (1 Cor.3:16; Eph.3:21).

Exodus 40:38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (KJV) . . . The Cloud and the Pillar of Fire were with Israel “during all their journeys.” God has told us: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb.13:5). There is absolutely NO time in your life, good or bad, joy or sorrow, victory or defeat, when the Lord will ever abandon you. Believe it! God cannot lie (Tit.1:2).

Numbers 9:18-22 At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. [19] And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not. [20] And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed. [21] And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. [22] Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. (KJV) . . . The Cloud taught them to follow the Lord’s commands. At the Lord’s command they made camp, and at His command they broke camp. It should be the same instant and willing obedience to the Lord’s direction for us today. IS it in your life?

“Sometimes the Cloud stayed only from evening till morning” meaning at times, God moves quickly. and at other times, “the Cloud tarried long and the Israelites journeyed not." Also a lesson to us. For example, Israel camped for nearly a year at Mt. Sinai, when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the Law, the priesthood and the tabernacle.

So when the Cloud of God was/is not “moving”, that does NOT mean that God is not working! God often works quietly, powerfully and wisely in our lives behind the scenes. These are the times to obey the Lord and grow and profit from what He is doing in your life.

Deut.1:32-33 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, [33] Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. (KJV) . . . From the amazing “Cloud” story, we should learn to let the Lord go ahead of us, to search out places for us . . . and to show us the way we should go. We should let God set the schedule in our lives. We should let Him decide where we should “camp”. We should let Him show us the way that He has chosen for us.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [2] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat; [4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. [5] But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. [6] Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (KJV) . . . A final lesson for us: Like Israel in the wilderness, we too can have all those blessings . . . the Cloud, the Pillar of Fire, the Heaven-sent food and drink, the Presence of Christ the Rock . . . and we can still fail God! Let us be wise and learn from Israel's mistakes. Let us always want His will for us. let us NEVER take for granted any of the blessings of God by “lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”

SUMMARY

Israel in the wilderness was tremendously blessed when they followed God’s actual Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night. We too today, can also incur great blessings by “following the Cloud” of God's Presence, purpose, guidance and will.
Psalms 37:24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. (KJV) . . . The Pillar of Cloud and Fire is a symbol of the divine leadership of Almighty God, which both guides us forward and stops for intervals of rest. We are truly blessed today, to follow one step at a time, and to be still (Ps.4:4; 46:10) and wait when He calls for a halt. Many sincere disciples fail today, because of impatience or delay in making decisions. Impulse too often sways us, and our self-willed plans betray us into false and even disastrous mistakes. Life is too precious to risk even one such failure. The Lord gives us a great Promise. Psalms 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. (KJV)

A favorite verse of mine: Psalm 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (KJV) . . . Let God guide you my friend!

Types of Christ in the Old Testament

Type of Israel, Jonah

Types . . . Eve Bride of Christ

Types of Christ's Death, Coats of Skin

Types of Christ's Death, Old Testament Sacrifices

Types of Christ's Death, Tabernacle

Types of Christ, Adam

Types of Christ, David

Types of Christ, Elijah

Types of Christ, Elisha

Types of Christ, Examples

Types of Christ, Isaac

Types of Christ, Job

Types of Christ and His Resurrection, Jonah

Types of Christ, Joseph

Types of Christ, Melchezidek

Types of Christ, Moses

Types of Christ, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire

Types of Christ, Samson

Types of Christ, the Rock

Types of Christ, the Brazen Serpent

Types of Christ, the Exodus

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