Michael Youssef - Treasure That Lasts - Part 9
Turn with me please if you haven't already to Exodus 14 and I want you to look at verse 19 and if you do have your own Bible, I want you to circle the word "cloud" and if I'm gonna have one thing that I want you to remember when you leave here and I hope you'll never forget it for the rest of your life, it's one word. Just one word: "cloud". Cloud. But this is very different from any cloud that you see on the sky. I'm gonna explain that in a minute because of its vital importance, ha, ha. In fact, it is mentioned, that word is mentioned in the Bible 58 times. And when you get to know what it means, it's gonna bless your socks.
Exodus 13: "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud and led them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, and they might travel day or night". Chapter 14, verse 19: "The angel of the Lord who went before them moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud stood before them, and he moved behind them". By now, I am sure you wanna know, right? What is the cloud? What is that cloud? This cloud is like no other cloud they have ever seen before in their life, but they called it a cloud because they don't know what else to call it. It's like when we see a nuclear explosion and we call it a mushroom cloud. It just looks like a cloud in the shape of a mushroom. It's neither cloud nor a mushroom, right? It's the same way here. They called it cloud.
Whatever that big, huge object was, it did two things for the Israelites. It protected them from the heat of the sun by day and the freezing temperature by night and it provided them light while on the back side of it, as they crossed the Red Sea, it was pitch black. It was dark, so that the Egyptians cannot pursue them. So in order to get the Egyptians confused. It means that their enemy could not embark on night raids or a sudden attack during the daytime. And that is why this phenomena, it's just called cloud, a cloud. It was sometimes referred to as the glory of the Lord. Other times, it referred to as the radiance of the Lord.
Beloved, listen carefully. That cloud become fully revealed in the New Testament as the Holy Spirit of God. This cloud was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The angel of the Lord is no other than the preincarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so what you get here is the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who co-existed in the Godhead before all worlds are guiding God's people out of the slavery of Egypt and into the freedom of the living God. They were protected from the heat by day, they were protected from their enemies, they were protected from the freezing temperature at night. I'm getting ready to shout because I know what I'm gonna say. You're at a disadvantage, you don't know what I'm gonna say.
But listen to me. When you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and only Savior, his Holy Spirit came to dwell in you. But when you daily walk with him in obedience to him, the Holy Spirit continues to fill you so there will be more of him and less of you, more of him and less of you. And the Holy Spirit of Jesus is called paraclete in the Bible. Can you say it with me? Paraclete. I know in English it's translated, "The comforter," but the word "paraclete" is a whole lot more than getting a pat on the back and handing you a Kleenex because that's what we think of a comforter, "There, there, there," right? Hand you a Kleenex. No, paraclete is an ancient word meaning warrior.
The Greek soldiers went to battle in pairs and so when the enemy attacks they could draw their backs to each other, back to back, in order to protect each other's blind side. And so, one's fighting partner was called paraclete. And that is why I wanna shout. Because Jesus who loved us to the end, did not leave us to life's battle alone. Jesus who loved us to the end, did not leave us with our backs uncovered. Jesus who loved us to the end, he gave us a battle partner to cover our blind side because that is why no one, no one, no one certainly in this church could ever say, none of us can say, "I'm alone," or "I am comfortless," or "I am vulnerable" or "I am isolated" or "I'm unprotected". For Jesus said, "When I go to the Father, I'll send you the paraclete".
He's your warrior. He's your warrior. He's your warrior and he's got your blind side. And right on schedule, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit of God came to the church in earnest, in order for the first time to dwell permanently here on the earth and in order to indwell every new believer who would come in the last 2000 years to surrender their life to Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Savior. Well, what does that mean to each of us here today? What does that mean? It means that everyone who trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, everyone who walks in obedience to Jesus, everyone who loves Jesus more than anything in life, everyone who is waiting for the return of Jesus, can be absolutely sure that the Holy Spirit has your back.
I wanna tell you three things and I hope you memorize them about the Holy Spirit of God. The cloud, the Holy Spirit, was given as a sign of God's protection. Secondly, the cloud, the Holy Spirit, was given to us as a sign of God's presence. And thirdly, the cloud, the Holy Spirit, is given to us as a sign of God's provision. Protection, presence, provision. Can you say those three things with me? Protection... What a God we have. Without the cloud, the Israelites would have been toast before they ever got into the wilderness. The cloud protected them from human enemies. The cloud protected them from natural danger in the wilderness. The cloud protected them from 100-degree temperature in the daytime and it protected them from a freezing temperature at night.
You see, desert temperature, it can literally drop 50 degrees between the maximum and the minimum. But the cloud was there also for whatever they might need. Listen to me. That cloud was large enough to cover 2 million people. Did you get that? Two million people coming out of Egypt. Except, uh-uh, is there exception? Yes. Except those who choose to get away from that covering. And I'm gonna talk some more in a minute about this. Only those who stayed in the covering of the cloud continues to receive God's protection. Those who refused are on their own.
Beloved, when God the Son gave his children God the Holy Spirit, he gave him in abundance so nobody could ever say, "I don't have the protection of the Holy Spirit. I don't have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I don't have the constant presence of the Holy Spirit". The only time you do not experience the Holy Spirit all over you is either because you have quenched the Holy Spirit and that is going directly against the Word of God or when you grieve the Holy Spirit by premeditated, deliberate sinning without repentance. How can you tell if a person has the Holy Spirit all over him? I wanna give you an illustration. Hopefully, it will make the point better than me trying to explain it.
Back in the 1800s, D.L. Moody was a great evangelist. He didn't have a great deal of education but he was a wonderfully, used by God to rock two continents for Christ. D.L. Moody was invited for an evangelistic outreach in England and so the pastors gathered together and were trying to unite together in that invitation and there was a lot of discussion. Those who were more snobbish than others said, "Why do we need Mr. Moody? He's uneducated, he's not experienced. Who does he think he is? Does he think that he has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit"? A young pastor rose up very gently, and said, "By no means, Mr. Moody does not have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on Mr. Moody". What a testimony. I wish that will be said of me. I know that it's a longing of many of the hearts here too.
And so, the cloud was a sign of God's protection. Secondly, the cloud was a sign of God's presence. God was with his people and the cloud was a proof of that. It was a sign of his presence. Whenever they saw the cloud, they knew God is with them, and the Bible said in Exodus 19 God spoke from the cloud and gave Moses the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 33, God spoke from the cloud in the Holy of Holies. In the book of Numbers chapter 12, God spoke from the cloud in his judgment against those who rebelled against Moses's leadership. From the cloud. Beloved, God sees everything through the Holy Spirit who dwells in the believer.
God watches every word we speak. God watches every thought we have. God watches every action and reaction. God watches the secret desires in our hearts. Why did Jesus give us the Holy Spirit? He said, "I go to the Father, send you the comforter, the paraclete," and then sure enough on schedule, 50 days from the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit shows up and comes. Why? Let me tell you about how ancient times things worked. If a buyer wants to buy a farm, this is how they practice in the old days, after they made an agreement and it's gonna be a while before he occupies that farm, but the owner will cut a piece of turf and he will throw it in the cloak of the new buyer, the new owner, to assure him, though he never really took possession of it, it's his. If it is a tree farm, like fruit of the tree, they will break a twig from one of the trees and gives it to him.
That is a sign that this belongs to you, even though you're not occupying it yet. In the case of a house, they would give him a set of keys to assure him that this house now belongs to him, even though he had not yet taken possession of it. It was like a deposit. It was like an assurance. It was like a sign. But all of these things were symbolic that the property now belongs to the new buyer, even though had not taken possessions. And here's where I'm going to shout again. In the New Testament when the God of all grace gave his children the inheritance of heaven, he gave us the Holy Spirit to assures us of his presence now and for eternity.
The Holy Spirit is that turf of our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is that twig from the tree of life. The Holy Spirit is the key to the mansion in the sky. In the Old Testament, we read about how the Holy Spirit came temporarily on somebody to use them, to accomplish something for God and then he goes back to heaven. He did this with Samson, he did this with David, Isaiah, elsewhere in the Old Testament. But for the first time, in the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes to stay. And he's available to everyone who will come and surrender to Jesus. He's available to you. There are so many people walking in the flesh because they either don't know or undermine the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.
The cloud was a symbol of God's protection. The cloud was a symbol of God's presence. Thirdly, the cloud was a symbol of God's provision. Now, break the word "provision" with me, okay? Pro-vision. Let's do it together: pro-vision. Pro means ahead, right? He's going ahead of us. Vision means seeing, right? He sees ahead of us. And I'm so thankful to the Lord for that because there are many times when I come and say, "Lord, I can't see the future. I don't know what decision to make. Would you help me"? And the Lord has already gone ahead of me; with his pro-vision, guides me. In other words, the Holy Spirit was leading them to his provision, to his direction, to where he wants them to go. The cloud was given to lead them into absolutely obedience to God.
Now, I wanna ask you a question. You can yell the answer to me, okay? The question is this: Did God's people rejoice at the fact that the cloud was guiding them and leading them? Did they rejoice? No, God bless you. Not on your life. They grumbled, they complained, they murmured, at the leading of the cloud. And I'm personally convinced as you read on, given half the chance they would have lynched Moses and elected his weaker brother, Aaron, who kind of helped them go along and is easily manipulated for them to do what they want him to do, as we see later on when they got him to do a golden bull. But like it or not, they had to follow the cloud. And so, another question. I'm gonna answer that one. If one of the Israelites decided that they'd just had enough. "I've had enough of this. I'm not gonna follow the cloud anymore".
What would have happened? They would have been dead in the water, more like dead in the desert, in less than 24 hours. Either because of the heat of the day, the freezing temperature at night, or the ferocious animals or whatever. One way or another, they wouldn't have survived. Another question: what is God doing? Is God in heaven? Sits there and he says, "How can I make you miserable"? What is God doing? He was not only protecting them, he was not only providing for them, there's more. There's more. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. He was disciplining them. Are you with me? In his wisdom, God was trying to get them to stop being a mob and become a great soldiers for the living God.
God was moving them from self-will and self-centeredness to be conquering soldiers of the Promised Land. God was moving them from being rebellious people to being conquering people. Why do you think they do this in the military for 40 days, the first 40 days you go through the military? They train you to get the civilian thing out of your system, to discipline you to become a military person. Forty days of training. And God is doing this in the spiritual realm. He's doing it in the spiritual realm. Let me speculate whether in this room or watching around the world, I'm gonna speculate a little bit. Probably some don't like the leading of the Holy Spirit because they don't like the discipline. Probably some of you here or watching might be like... feel discipline is just inconvenience for you.
Oh my beloved, but the Holy Spirit does this for your good. It's for our good. He is preparing you to reign and rule with him over the universe. And when the Holy Spirit comes, Jesus said in John 16:8: "When the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment". God wants us to train us to be soldiers in the army of the living God. Not undisciplined slackers. What would you say? "Lead on, Lord. Lead me on". I wanna speak to that person who for one reason or another beginning to distrust the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Beloved, some of you might be tempted to think that you're alone, that God has forsaken you. Even though you know biblically and intellectually that he promised never to leave you nor forsake you. Some of you have given up on the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And you're going around, getting your advice from the wrong people. The Spirit of your Father is watching over you. He's got a bow and arrow waiting. He's protecting you. When you go through the flood and you go through the fire, he's protecting you, he's watching over you. The paraclete has got your back. Will you say to him, "Lead on".