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Exodus 13:17-22

Following God

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • January 29, 2017

Matthew 6:10 contains one of the greatest prayers found in the Bible, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Why are there times when we struggle with knowing God and His will for our lives? Today, we’re going to look at a thought-provoking passage in Exodus and discover important principles about following God.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Following God

Exodus 13:17-22 


Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

1. Great prayer. So, why are there times when we struggle with knowing God and His will for our lives? 

2. Today, we’re going to look at a thought-provoking passage in Exodus and discover important principles about following God.

READ Exodus 13:17-22


1. After ten plagues, Pharaoh finally broke and told Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt.

2. Approximately 2 million people God led out of Egypt along with animals and some Egyptians.

I. God’s Way is Always the Right Way (17-20) 

Psalm 107:7, “He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for a dwelling place.” (NKJV) 

A. Even when God’s way is the long way (17a)

ILLUS – The beauty of GPS

1. God did not select the quickest route.

a. Sometimes the fastest way isn’t the best way.

b. Sometimes the quickest way isn’t the easiest way, though at first, it may appear to be.

2. God has a goal for us: To get us to the right place, the right way, at the right time! God selects the best path to accomplish what would not be accomplished
if He led us by a faster route.

3. Many faith-inspiring events would have been lost if God had taken Israel by a different route.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through
the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink,
for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.”

ILLUS – Heidi losing her cell phone at UW Husky Stadium

APPL – When the road gets long and you feel like your life is falling apart, remember, God won’t lead you the wrong way! Have faith!

Don’t runaway, fret, complain, or grumble

Cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you!

1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 

B. God knows our frame (17b-20)

1. Not only did God want Israel to experience victories with Him, He also wanted them to avoid potential threats to their infant faith.

a. They were beaten down by life in Egypt.

b. They weren’t ready for war with the Philistines.

Psalm 103:13-14, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows
our frame; He is mindful that we are butdust.”

2. God did not want Israel to run back to Egypt, back to a familiar place, a land of slavery! 

APPL – Maybe you know people who run back to harmful relationships or destructive behaviors when facing difficulties…

God wants His people to walk in freedom, not live in bondage!

So sometimes God will lead us away from those things that will be too much for us because our faith needs to be strengthened.

But if you’re tempted to run, God will provide a way of escape!

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”

II. God is With Us Every Step of the Way (21-22) 

A. The Game Plan: God leads, we follow

1. God is the “Initiator” and we are the “responders”.

2. God led Israel with a cloud by day and a fire by night. The Cloud represented the glory of God’s presence.

3. Through the Cloud, God revealed His character.

a. His visible presence brought Israel comfort.

b. His presence revealed His Shepherd’s heart.

c. His presence revealed He was their Warrior King.

APPL – God was showing Israel His presence brings blessing.

Wouldn’t it be great to just look out your window in the morning to see where the Cloud of God’s glory was?

Wouldn’t it be great to have the glow of God’s glory to light your path by night or shield you from the sun by day?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know what God’s will was for each day and to simply stay close to Him?

B. The Problem: We don’t have a Cloud!

1. But all is not lost. Jesus Christ is with us!

Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

2. After Jesus ascended into heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to us.

a. “Another Helper” (another of the same kind)

John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of
truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”

b. The Holy Spirit is to us what Jesus was to the disciples, and what the Cloud was to Israel.

John 16:7, 13, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to
you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own
initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what it is to come.”

  • To your advantage (7)
  • Guides us in all truth (13) 

3. God’s Spirit uses principles from the Bible to lead us.

a. God led Israel to the Promised Land with the Cloud of His presence.

b. But in the Promised Land, He led them with the Law of Moses and the prophets.

c. Today, God’s Word is our counsel and guide.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

4. NOTE: Hebrews reveals that the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant in every way. 

Hebrews 8:6b-7, “He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had
been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.”

APPL – God still desires to lead us by His Spirit in accordance with His Word. But what does this look like today? 

  • Invite Jesus into your life and let Him stay – Abide with Christ

Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will
dine with him, and he with Me.”

  • Seek first God’s agenda

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”

  • Prayerfully bring your requests to the Lord

Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known
to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

  • Ask God to make your life fruitful

John 15:7-8, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father
glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

Transition – I believe God wants to reveal His will, the question is, are we asking, listening, and abiding?

III. Keep God’s Charge

Numbers 9:22-23, “Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons
of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command
of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord’s charge, according to the command of the Lord through Moses.”

A. If God says, “Wait”, then wait!

1. No pattern: two days, a month, a year. (22)

2. Though God’s pattern isn’t predictable, His plan is:

a. He is purging our pride and maturing our faith.

b. He is conforming us into the image of Christ.

c. The Point: Don’t put God in a box! “Wait upon the Lord! Be patient!”

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.”

3. Remember, even when waiting, God is working!

B. If God says “Go”, then go!

1. Seven times in verses 15-23, it’s said Israel kept God’s command.

2. We must be ready to move when God commands.


ILLUS – Adam and Anna playing the “Sweet and Sour Game” with Bill Gates on I-5 in downtown Seattle

APPL – God wants a relationship with us. He wants to bless our lives with His presence and guide us by His Spirit in accordance with His Word.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and
He will make your paths straight.”

Will you abide in the Lord and be led by His Spirit? 

Will you wait if God says, “Wait!” or go if He says, “Go!”?

Will you trust God with your hopes, dreams, and future?

Exodus 13:17-22    NASB

17 Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18
Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.
19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you
shall carry my bones from here with you.” 20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 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. 22
He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.


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