A spatial dilemma: Who goes first?

The Bible offers many examples of “God going before” His people, including you and me.

Deuteronomy 31:8
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Isaiah 45:2
“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.”

Exodus 13:21
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.

Deuteronomy 1:30
‘The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,”

As I study these verses, it seems to me that:

  1. God is encouraging us to see Him this way (going before us)
  2. there is special significance in this spatial relationship.

Think about this… if God goes before you, then who is leading? Is it you or God who is going first? I think that God is teaching us that we can trust in His faithfulness, His goodness, but that we must assume the correct position. We must follow Him if we are to remain safely in His care.

The logical question, then, is how do I remain in a “following” posture? The answer is, simply, obedience. God gave us His word to show us how to follow Him; the word lights our way (Psalm 119:105). Read Matthew 5-7 to see what Jesus has to say about the practical aspects of daily following God.

One name used to describe this “going before” characteristic of God is Jehovah Jireh: the Lord will provide. David called on God to go before Him when he was pursued by Saul (Psalm 59:10). He knew that God would deliver him from this unjust enemy.

Like David, though, I often look to my own desires and strength to guide me. This mindset has preceded the greatest failures in my life. Just as David pursued Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), I have chased idols that I thought would satisfy and protect me. Spoiler alert: they fail you every time.

My prayer for us today is that we maintain a “God goes before” life. I pray that we live in obedience, that we find perfect congruence between God’s word and our desires, which enables us to conquer fear and uncertainty through complete faith in our loving Father. Amen!





About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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