He Goes Before You

Intro: I was a janitor in college and over the summers, we had the task of waxing floors while there were no students. It was nice during the summer since two of my friends worked alongside of me and we often worked together. But for the waxing and cleaning to be truly effective, someone had to strip the floors. This ensured that the old wax and any buildup of dirt and grime from the previous year would be removed so that the new wax would be set well and look good.
The Lord promises presence and going before us to accomplish His task through His church. It’s a clear reminder that Jesus is the means by which victory is won and ensures that the success of His people is held firmly in Him.
CTS: God promises His people His presence and power to lead them to eternal rest.
Background: This is the end of the Book of the Covenant. Ancient treaties and covenants entailed at the end what would be the results of the said covenant. Kind of like a contract between two people, if both sides fulfill their obligations, they will receive the expected promise of goods or services. To conclude this book of the Covenant, God gives Israel a promise of a home, a place where they would reside and be the a nation that would be His own people and possession, a light to the nations.
But the journey would require conquest, and that conquest would be set upon God himself, as we will see, through an angel that would prepare the way and guard his people into the land of Canaan. Who is this angel?

Who is the Angel of God?

He can pardon sin: (Mark 2:7who can forgive sins but God alone?)
His Name is in him: (Every I am statement points to Jesus’ identity as the “Great I Am” from Exodus 3. The angel of the LORD appeared in the bush, and now we have this angel leading the way for God’s people.)
He is the way, prepared for God’s people: (John 14:6 “I am the way”
His presence is with God’s people (Matt 28:20, “I am with you always until the end of the age, fulfilled in the person of the Holy Spirit for God’s people
“It follows,” said Augustine, “that he who said, ‘My name is in him’ is the true Jesus, the leader who brings his people into the inheritance of eternal life, according to the New Testament, of which the Old was a figure. No event or action could have a more distinctly prophetical character than this, where the very name is itself a prediction.”

I. Trust His Victory (20, 22b-23, 27-30)

a. He guards and prepares: This angel would have the two-fold task of guarding and preparing his people for entrance into the Promised Land. The Israelites would be promised in essence a “guardian” angel that would travel with them. It seems that this angel is distinct from the cloud that would lead the people of Israel. We find that this angel appears later as the “commander of the Lord’s army” in Joshua 5:13-15.
This angel warrior would guard, prepare the way, and get them into the Promised Land. This angel would protect His people on the journey.
2 Thessalonians 3:3–5 ESV
3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
b. He fights the battle: Also, this angel would fight the battle on Israel’s behalf. God has done this already as He delivered Israel out of Egypt. The reminder for us as the church is the battle has been won by Christ at the cross. The Enemy, the Serpent, has been crushed by the Snake Crusher himself at the cross. It was their the battle for our souls was won, and the Enemy has been defeated. Sin and death, our enemies have been defeated as well. The spiritual warfare that we are a part of is not something that we fight on our own or even in our own power, but it is Christ who battles it.
We also must remember that the daily battle against sin, self, and surrendering ourselves to Jesus can only be done in the power of Jesus.
c. He drives the Enemy away: As part of that fight, we are reminded that these enemies will run sacred of the Israelites. Illustration: When a wasp, hornet, or bee flies around, many of us run scared, start losing our minds a bit in trying to escape them. The same is said of the Enemy of God, Satan himself. The church should know that this Enemy that so easily tries to beset us is not driven away by us but driven away by Christ. We look to Him who has won. We must look to Christ to drive out sin and drive out the Enemy as he prepares to take us to the place of rest, the Promised Land. Christ does the work and equips us for the battle.

II. Obey His Voice (21-22a, 24, 32-33)

Who’s In Charge?
Yet we also have an obligation and a responsibility as God’s people. We must remember that though works and obedience do not earn our salvation, there is the expectation that because we have been redeemed and saved, that God has won and purchased us, that we live a certain way. So, we also are reminded that the angel is a commander, that He is also God himself. That was the basis of the obedience that God put forth for Israel. Look at verse 21. Clearly, there it says to pay careful attention to him and obey him because God says His name is in him. In other words, He bears the same authority and same voice as God. This alternating between Him and I should give us a clear indication that this angel is God himself, a pre-incarnate reality of Jesus.
For the church, it should remind us that Jesus, the Savior of our souls, is also our Master, our Commander. Illustration: God is not our co-pilot. I know I’ve used this illustration before but it bears repeating. We are not the pilot’s of our own lives. Jesus is the master, the Savior of our souls. And it should cause us to hear His Word with great reverence. He steers the ship, we are only his crew that do the work that He calls us to do. We in fact are not the pilot, but the co-pilot. He lets us turns some knobs, we listen to His instructions, but ultimately, the pilot has the authority.
This is why we must be diligent as God’s people to obey His commands, which we have in front of us. So, when the Bible tells the church to make disciples, we should listen. When it says that we should worship God alone and put away idols, we should listen.
The commands to Israel are different for us, but the principle remains. They were to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan because of the temptation that leaving them there would cause them to fall into sin. It is a reminder for the church, that though we are not physically battling against people like this, but that we do wage a spiritual war. We must separate ourselves in our conduct and our lives. Idolatry should be done away with. Even good things can become idols, when those good things become number one things, that when that thing gets disrupted and I sin in order to achieve it. That’s idolatry.
And this won’t be immediate. It will be a process. It’s the reality of sanctification, and it is also a beautiful act of God that He makes us more like Jesus every day. Little by little, step by step.
The definition of our lives doesn’t come from anyone or anything other than Jesus. Even good things that demand our attention must become subservient to the things of Jesus. Life is defined by Christ, and that means that any attempts of the world to blunt the life-giving message of Christ should be met with a clear and bold no, and to point people to the better truth of Jesus, who has died to forgive sin and bring eternal life to those that trust in Christ.
In other words, we cannot compromise in the Gospel or in our lives. Our allegiance belongs to Jesus alone. Not our families, our friends, acquaintances, people with opinions, our nation, or anyone else. Our allegiance is to Jesus alone, the one in the Burning Bush, the Great I Am, the Commander of the Lord’s Army, Savior, Redeemer, and our closest friend.

III. Receive His Blessings (25-26, 31)

The Israelites are also given a blessing promise to them. That promise is that if they obey the voice of the angel, to obey God, that He will bless them with food and water. There will be no sickness. There will be none that miscarry. God will bless His people in abundance.
Abundant Spiritual Blessings
Now we must remember that God’s people here are in a different position. We can’t take this promise and apply it one for one for us today, that if we obey God he will bless us monetarily. This promise was meant for this physical people at this physical point because of the situation. They were going to be a light to the nations, or at least, that is what was intended for them. But for the Christian today, that promise has been fulfilled in Christ, that He is Israel that blesses the nations. And now, as His people, we are promised abundance spiritually.
Ephesians 1:3–10 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
We don’t have national borders as the church. No nation holds the title of being God’s nation. The church across the world is the kingdom. And those of that kingdom are promised the presence of Jesus in the person of the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 1:11–14 ESV
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Reality of Suffering
But we are also promised that those that follow Jesus will suffer.
Does that mean that we’ve done wrong if we suffer? Did we disobey? That sometimes can be the case as God disciplines us for sin, but it also means that sometimes we suffer because we live in a broken world. But in that suffering, we are promised all that we will ever need to follow Jesus. He promises His presence and His help in times of need. He pray for us and intercedes for us. He promises to empower His people to carry out His mission, to live holy, and to experience the good life that is found in him.
The Thrill of Serving Christ
And I want us to really see that today. Maybe you have a view of following Jesus that makes you think that if I do so, I’ll lose out on so much. I’ll have to sacrifice and live like a monk to follow Jesus, and it will be the worst thing. Or maybe you think that Sunday is enough. But let me tell you something, that the life to follow Jesus is better and more thrilling than any other. The blessings of knowing Christ, experiencing His presence and His peace, and the incredible thrill of proclaiming His truth to the world far surpasses the life we could live on our own. Everything pales in comparison to seeing the lost saved, people lives transformed from sin and into life.


Jesus has gone before us, won the battle, and is preparing a place for us. We look forward to that day when in Revelation 21:4
Revelation 21:4 ESV
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
IN the meantime, He promises us His presence and calls us to a life of obedience to Him that is better than life without Him and His presence. It’s a good life. A transformed life. A life given for His glory.
Take hold of the promise of God, look to the victory that has been won at the cross, and submit your life to the One who gave it all for you. Jesus, you are in charge. This church is yours. My life is yours. Transform me. Transform my family. Kill sin in me. Kill sin in us. Make us Gospel-centered. Save lost people. Use us to proclaim Jesus, make disciples. Make us a Holy Spirit empowered people, a healthy church for your glory.
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