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186. Defender of the Church.

'As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and there were the Egyptians marching after them ... The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.' (Exodus 14:10-20) The night the Israelites left Egypt, they saw a spectacular sight! They saw a pillar of fire and cloud take its position in front of them. 'By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on the way and by night a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.' ( Exodus 13:21-22) Interestingly, the Spirit speaking through Stephen, addressed the Israelites as the 'assembly ( Greek : ekklēsia means Church) in the desert'. ( Acts 7:38) The pillar of fire and cloud, which is the evidence of his Presence (Exodus 33:14-15), defended the Church (ekklēsia) in the desert and even fought for them. 'During the last watch of the night, the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, "Let's get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt." (Exodus 14:24-25) The Spirit is the reason why the Church of Christ still exists on the face of the earth or else it would have been destroyed as soon as it was formed. The Spirit stands between the armies of the Church and the Antichrist. He is thirsting to take the world before time but is being heldback by the Spirit. 'And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one ( Antichrist) will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overcome with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.' ( 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8) Just as 'the Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle' (Exodus 13:18), we too are an army and must be armed for spiritual battle. 'Put on the full armour of God so that you can stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers, against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground after you have done everything to stand.' ( Ephesians 6:11-13) We don't need to fight but just have to stand firm. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, a Levite, as he stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem. 'He said: "Listen King Jehoshaphat ... This is what the Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not ours, but God's ... You will not have to fight this battle. Take your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you ... Go out to face them and the Lord will be with you.'" ( 2 Chronicles 20: 14-17) We are only instructed to stand together with the Spirit of Christ and fight the good fight of faith while he defends and fights for the Church. Amen.

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