With all kinds of voices in the world, we are often caught up in those voices instead of the Lord’s. Even when He calls out “Behold!” to get our attention, we can miss out because we have surrounded ourselves with things and activities that drown out the voice of God.
As those who have come by faith to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are His children. Scripture tells us that God takes the initiative to provide direction for our lives, but we must tune out the world, quiet our hearts and spend time with Him alone.
He said to the descendants of Abraham, “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Ex 23:20-22)
Let us consider who it was who accompanied the Israelites on their journey through the wilderness. We read in 1 Cor 10:4: “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ”. We see, then, that it was Christ, the “Messenger” of God the Father, who led the Israelites. The “Angel,” as mentioned in Exodus 23, who was sent before them, appears to be none other than Christ, “the Messenger”. In this passage the Father said “for My name is in Him”.
So let’s look at the first verse again, knowing it is Christ that is spoken of as the angel. “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.” (v 20) God says that Christ will “keep you in the way” so that we know which way to go amid life’s many distractions.
We know that Jesus is “The Word” (John 1:1-5), and we know that the Father’s Word “is a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Ps 119:105). Therefore, we know that because God is faithful and cannot lie, when He says He is sending an angel to go before us, to keep us on the path He wants us on, and to bring us to the place He has prepared for us, He will do it. After all, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).
We are to reverently fear Jesus as Lord and messenger, and obey Him. “Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.” Obedience is act of surrender; it is when we say not my will Lord but Your will and align our actions with that will. But to provoke the Lord means to grievously disobey or rebel against His Word, which provokes His wrath.
His Word says that our transgressions won’t be pardoned unless we repent. “For if you return to the Lord, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.” (2 Chron 30:9) The path of blessing will never come through obedience to a code of ethics or body of rules; it comes only through fiery allegiance and submission to the One God has sent to pardon transgression.
Although as Christ followers we are no longer of this world, we are still in this world. In the next Scripture in this passage, we come to understand that being forgiven of our sin is an ongoing process as we must continually submit ourselves to the Lord and ask for His abundance of grace so that we can obey His Word. “But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”
As God’s chosen people (those from Abraham and gentiles by faith in Jesus who repent), He gives this promise: “Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.” (Num 24:9b) While we may not personally see the end result of God’s promise, we know that Jesus said that the world will hate us as it did Him. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19).
Heavenly Father, the greatest desire in my heart is to hear from You; not simply about You, but to hear Your unmistakable voice resonate within my heart, calling me to a stance of obedience before You. Hear me, O Father, so that I may hear that unmistakable voice of Yours, so that I know the way to the place that You have prepared for me. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.