This promise will accompany us in the New Year. When He, the Light of the World, goes before us, then we will have the same experiences as the children of Israel, whom God led by a cloud of fire in the night. He is a light on our path; what a wonderful comfort this is!
There are two pictures of our Lord which I admire very much. The one picture shows us how Jesus the Good Shepherd rescues the lost lamb from the thorny bushes. It is the picture of a searching shepherd. The second picture shows Him walking ahead of the herd of sheep and carrying the small lamb on His shoulders. It is noticeable how the sheep press forward to be close to their master. He, the Shepherd, is leading them. This is the Shepherd illustrated in John 10, the Shepherd who leads His sheep to find good pasture. The Shepherd, as described in Psalm 23, leads through dark valleys but also on clear mountain peaks. He is the Shepherd who promises His sheep, “I will go before you!” This promise is only for those who allow themselves to be found by the Shepherd. The master must first search and call us before He is able to lead us.
When we read the entire chapter of Isaiah 45, we will realize how the above scripture was directed to Cyrus. He was to be God’s instrument to free the children of Israel from captivity. God’s will was that He would go before him and give him the strength to do that what God wanted him to do.
Let us look at our Savior, how He was tempted by the devil when he quoted Psalm 91:11-12 falsely. If Jesus would have jumped from the peak of the temple without receiving an order from God, He wouldn’t have been able to expect God to protect Him from danger. God’s angels would only surround Him and protect Him from harm if He remained on God’s path and was obedient.
God will go before us and protect us from harm only if we remain on the path of obedience. Naturally, Jesus had to die on the cross even if angels were surrounding Him. It doesn’t mean that we will be spared from hard times even though God is protecting us. However, we must be aware that the hard times are not hurting us but rather being of help to us.
If our Lord goes before us, we have a leader, protector, and comforter. We know we are safe. He is there and overcomes our trials first. All we need to do is walk on the path He has prepared for us and follow Him. The Lord will show us how we can conquer the trials. We can be assured that he knows them. He is our high priest, who was tempted in all things just as we are. That is why He can have pity on us. In times when our friends disappoint us or when we feel lonely, we can look up to Jesus and know that He was also disappointed by His friends and experienced loneliness. “Could you not watch with Me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). We can hear the disappointment and are made aware of the loneliness from these words. When I read these words, I am no longer lonely, for I know that even He, my Master, felt this sorrow. He understands me and thus can also help me.
Jesus was tired when He sat down by Jacob’s well. However, when the opportunity to serve arose, He forgot about His tiredness and contended with the woman regarding her soul. Sometimes we are given a particular duty. Even though we may be tired, we should not complain but instead go the same path our Master went. And just as the Father strengthened His Son so that He was able to fulfill God’s will, our Master will strengthen us just the same when we approach our duties even though we are tired.
The hardest thing that we may have to endure is if our good intentions are taken in an evil way. There are times when we want to help and are not understood, or people even become angry with us. How quickly we become discouraged and lose our patience! Didn’t our Master experience this as well? “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” He sadly said, “but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)
How patient was our Savior with Judas Iscariot! What love He showed to his soul, and even then Judas crushed this love with his feet! Jesus did not approach this betrayer with fierce anger, but instead, with a sad voice, He asked: “My friend, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” There are many other examples that we could mention. Our Master experienced every stage of human life. Every pain that we innocently endure, He had as well. He has gone before us and will go before us again in this year. Even in this New Year, there will never be a path which our Master will not tred as well. All we have to do is walk in His footsteps, keep our eyes on Him, and follow!