Are You Following the Cloud or the Crowd? (9/20/15)

Posted by on Oct 3, 2015 in Sermons | 0 comments

Our sermon on September 20, 2015 was given by Lay Servant Steve Crispin.  His text was Exodus chapter 40 which describes how God led the Israelites with a cloud and pillar of fire.  Are we following that cloud?

Click the below “Play” button to start the recording and then scroll down to follow along…


The scripture was Exodus 40:34-38.  Click the drop down box to read…

Exodus 40

Exodus  40:34-38    Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out;  but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out — until the day it lifted.

So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels. NIV


Parallel Journeys

We’re all  probably familiar with the story of Moses and how God brought him in front of a burning bush and commanded him to go to Egypt and demand that Pharoah “Let my people go.”  The image of Charlton Heston and “The Ten Commandments” movie is burned into our memories. But this story is not just a fictional story… it really happened.  And, it’s in the Bible so that we can learn something from this history.  There are many parallels between this journey of the Isrealites and our personal experience.

Put yourself into the shoes (sandals?) of one of those Hebrews, exiled in Egypt… and you might see yourself…


1: Born into Slavery

Just as in the movie “400 Years a Slave”… and just like real  life in 19th century America- people were born into slavery.  You had no choice; you were a slave by heredity.  And there was nothing you could do about it.  You couldn’t earn your way out or somehow buy your freedom back.  You were somebody else’s property, tied to slavery.

In the same way, all of us are slaves to sin.  We constantly find ways to fall short of the life God is calling us to.  We can’t escape our tenancy to look first to ourselves instead of looking for ways to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.”  We don’t naturally “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

We are “slaves” to sin.  here’s how Jesus put it….

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

John 8:34

And this is what Paul said…

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.

All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one.”


Romans 3:10-12


We can live life by attending church and trying to do a lot of good things, but that alone won’t free us from our separation from God.  There’s nothing we can do on our own that will save us.

Henry Blackaby, author of the “Experiencing God” book and study series, gave the following advice:

  • “Don’t just do something… stand there”
  • “If you have trouble hearing God speak, you’re at trouble at the heart of your Christian experience.”

In other words, our relationship with God must come first.  We can’t escape from the trap of sin until we have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

All of us are trapped in slavery to sin,  just as the Israelites were trapped by their own slavery to their Egyptian masters.


2: Set Free by God

But then Moses comes on the scene.  He tells the slavemaster- Pharoah- to “Let my people go.”

And in much the same way, Jesus enters our human life and sets us free from our slavery to sin…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Grace is getting something we don’t deserve.  The grace of Jesus becoming a human and dying on the cross for our sins is what saves us from our destiny of sin.  We can’t earn that any more than the Hebrew slaves could earn their freedom by exceeding their quota of bricks.

In fact, the Hebrews were born into slavery.  If that chain is to be broken, we need a new family identity.  So God “adopts” us into His family.  Here’s how Peter put it:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

We are chosen in the same way that a child is chosen for adoption.

For he chose us in him {Christ} before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love  he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Ephesians 1:4-6

3: Follow the Cloud

Sunset-Cross_BeHappy _400x300How does it get any better?  The Israelites had seen God’s miracles.  They knew the awesome power of God first hand!  And us?  We have the Bible, the Holy Spirit; we have the opportunity to come to church every Sunday and to be surrounded by the support of friends and family, of music and inspiration.  But what happens when we walk out of the sanctuary door?

When the Israelites “walked out of the door” (slavery in Egypt), they started to whine; no meat- only this boring manna, we’re going to die in the desert, why oh why oh why?  It would have been better if we stayed in Egypt and died as a slave instead of dying in this desert.   Really?!?

They followed the Crowd, even when the Cloud of God’s power and presence was right before them.

And what about us?  Are we “ok” with sin?  do we gossip?  Do we speak up for God when we’re chatting with co-workers?  Does our faith stay in church or do we live it out?

We are trained to run a race:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-3


We’re called to go out into the world, and in our faith to be defended by the Holy Spirit:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17

Our willpower can’t prevent us from denying God.

How do we follow the Cloud?  How do we resist the Crowd?  We can’t resist by forcing ourselves to do good things.  We can’t earn our salvation.  We need to walk  forward in faith, knowing Jesus and knowing that He has already taken care of our sin.

We “Do” good works because we’re in love with God and we want to please Him.

“Do” is a result of knowing what God “Did” for us.


 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

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