Now as we have most recently been covering the various types of the Holy Spirit that are used throughout the Scriptures, I came across another type of Him that “led” me to change gears and have us camp on another important aspect of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So, allow me to “dovetail” (pun intended) our most recent series with a new and very practical one on the Holy Spirit—The Leading of the Holy Spirit.
You know, in my opinion, being led by the Holy Spirit is one of the most important truths we can ever learn. Yes, it is an extremely practical and absolutely essential lesson that every believer should have a working knowledge of in their life. The reason is because the Holy Spirit lives in us to (among other things) lead and guide us into all truth—and this includes our daily walk. He will guide us into where to go, when to go there, etc. and I am persuaded that if we will learn to discern how He leads us, we will always be led into triumph. Far too many Christians walk like the world walks—and as a result are blindly groping around, trying to figure things out. But for a Spirit-filled believer, we don’t have to lean to our own understanding. We can trust in the Holy Spirit to direct our paths, hallelujah!
So, today, we will begin studying the leading of the Holy Spirit by looking at another type of the Holy Spirit that is less known in the Scriptures—the Cloud. You see, a Cloud was used a couple of times in the Old Testament to describe the manifest presence of God.
First of all, we see a cloud covering the tent of meeting and the glory of God filling the Tabernacle (see Exodus 40:34-35), and then later in Second Chronicles chapter 5, we see how Solomon’s temple was filled with a cloud after the sacrifices had been offered and the people worshipped God (see Second Chronicles 5:14).
Many in the church today read these accounts and say, “Wow! I sure would like to experience that today!” Do you know what I would like? I desire for the church to know that this is what every born-again, Spirit-filled believer has already experienced today. You see, we the church, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we stay filled with the cloud of God’s glory in our New and Better Covenant. Amen?
So, the good news that makes the Gospel even “gooder” is that the glory dwells in us. It is not like it was first with the Tabernacle and then with the Temple, where the cloud of glory filled it once in a blue moon. No, the cloud of glory abides in us forever! Amen!
Now in Number 9:15-18, we see this when it says, “Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents. At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.”
First of all, notice how on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, that the cloud covered it. One could read this as to say, that after Jesus—the One who came and tabernacled among us (see John 1:14)—was raised up from the dead, the Holy Spirit was now made available to all who would be born again and become the Lord’s Tabernacles. But this can also show us the permanence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As Jesus said, He will abide with us forever! We see this in this passage—because verse 16 says, “So it was always…” So, no longer should we be praying “Take not your Holy Spirit away from me!” as David did. No, if He is there, He will remain there! As it is always! Glory to God!
However, we are then told that— “Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents. At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.”
So, while the cloud remained present, sometimes it moved. And when it moved, the children of Israel moved. In other words, the children of Israel—a type of God’s people today—were led by the cloud, following it wherever it went. Therefore, since the Holy Spirit is the cloud to us today, we must learn to follow His lead—going where He tells us to go and staying where He tells us to stay.
Now before we go any further talking about following the cloud, it is important to make a point here: Even though the children of Israel were being led by the cloud, this did not mean that they did not need “Moses.” No, Moses was an extremely important part of Israel’s direction and guidance in the wilderness. In fact, the vast majority of their generation did not enter into the promised land because of their lack of willingness to hear their leader, Moses. We have no record that they rebelled against following the cloud, but we certainly do see them rejecting the Word God delivered to them through His servant.
So, who or what is Moses a type of? Many see Moses as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ—which certainly fits in many ways—but I also see Moses as a type of the Word of God (and, of course, Jesus is the Word. So there is no difference.).
You see, Moses was the one who received the Words of their God and delivered them to the children of Israel. He was also the one who delivered to them God’s law—His commandments, statutes, precepts, etc. And, of course, we know that Moses wrote significantly more of the Bible than any other person did (The apostle Paul writing more books of the Bible, but much less words & verses). Therefore, I believe it is true to say Moses was a type of God’s Word here.
So, here is my point: Just as the cloud gave Israel direction of where to go and when to go there, they also needed God’s mouthpiece to keep them within the parameters of God’s will for their lives. And the fact is, because they had such a hard time receiving God’s directions through Moses, they were unable to possess their Promised Land. This teaches me that while the Holy Spirit dwells within us to lead and guide us, we do not need to make the mistake of putting Moses outside of your proverbial camp and only being “Spirit-led.” Why? Because the Spirit of God never will operate contrary to the Word of God. They always agree! Amen?
THE MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY
Let’s look over at Second Peter 1:16-21 and take a look at the Apostle Peter’s views on this matter:
In verses 16-18 the apostle Peter recounted to his readers a very spectacular experience he had during Jesus’ earthly ministry. It was of his experience at what we call “The Mount of Transfiguration.” When Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah, His face shown like the sun, and His garments became white as the light (Matthew chapter 17).
This was an incredible experience for Peter, I’m sure—to see Jesus displayed in all of His glory! This had to be enough to convince him of the deity of this Man that he had committed his life to follow, right? On top of that, not only did Peter say that he was an eyewitness of Jesus’ majesty (Second Peter 1:16), but he also said that he heard the audible voice of God saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. Hear Him” (vs. 17&18). Nothing could be more convincing than this, right? I mean, to see what he saw and then to hear what he heard. Surely, Peter had to be sure that this was the Son of God now, right?
Many think this: There are many who travel in our circles who would take a miraculous event that they saw with their eyes like this (i.e. a vision or dream) as automatically “thus saith the Lord.” Others would, for certain, take something they heard with their ears like an audible voice being from God. But Peter did not say that these two forms of God’s communication were a sure thing.
Notice what he goes on to say in verse 19 is a more sure form of communication from God: He said that we have a more sure word of prophecy! Now we know that this “more sure word of prophecy” is a reference to God’s Word because verse 20 goes on to say, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation…” Therefore, the Apostle Peter is referring to what is written in the Holy Scriptures as this more sure word of prophecy.
Well, why does he refer to it as the “word of prophecy”? It is because, as other translations put it, he is referring to the prophecies made concerning Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures. This is why the apostle Peter goes on to say what he does— “which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
But back to our example—we know that the children of Israel did not “heed” Moses, did they? No, they did not have ears to hear his words and commandments. Which again was the reason they could not enter into the Promised Land.
So, the apostle Peter was saying that as we take “heed” to the truth, this will lead to the day dawning and the morning star rising in our hearts. And the Book of Revelation reveals Jesus as the Bright and Morning Star, right? Hallelujah, our revelation of Jesus can grow to the point where we see our Bright and Morning Star brighter than we ever had before!
So, there are two very important lessons to learn from this:
This is such a huge point, my friends! If Peter said that his experience with the Lord Jesus Himself was subordinate to what is written in the Holy Scriptures, and if Peter said that the prophecies recorded in the Word of God are more of a sure thing than this particular experience, then we had better not let any experience we ever have or any “prophecy” we might receive be more convincing to us than what is written in God’s Word.
MANY VOICES = ONE AUTHORITY
You see, the danger is that there are many voices in the world and it would be easy to have one of these spectacular experiences and it not be God at all. Not everything that is spiritual is of God. There have been many false religions begun through supernatural experiences that individuals claim to have had. Now I do not doubt that some of these individuals have indeed had the spectacular experiences that they say that they have had. What I do doubt, however, is that these experiences were actually God-inspired.
We need to understand that Satan also lives in the spiritual realm and can perform many of these supernatural things too. Yes, he can speak to you as well. We know that in the last days that his antichrist and false prophet will perform many lying signs and wonders that will deceive many. You see, Satan loves to counterfeit the things of God. As Paul said in Second Corinthians 11:14, he likes to masquerade as an angel of light and lead well-meaning people (even God’s children) into error through this deception. This is why we need to always make sure what we are hearing or seeing is substantiated by the Scriptures. If our experiences are not backed up by the Bible, then we better think twice about embracing them as being from God—even if they seem to be blessing people.
For example, say I was sitting in my room and all of the sudden it was filled with a “cloud” of glory and then three glorious beings entered my room claiming to be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then they told me that they had some new revelation to share with me and that I had been chosen to carry this new teaching to the world. My first question would be— “Where is this revelation found in the Bible because I need at least two or three verses to let this word be established?” Then, if they were to say to me, “Son, this is a new revelation just for you!” My reaction then would be— “Well, this visit has not been as nice as I hoped it would; I will have to ask you to leave.”
You see, God has given us His Word so that we will not be deceived like this. Satan most certainly can counterfeit the things of God. Therefore, it would behoove us to know the truth so that we are not swayed by just any spectacular experience.
THE SPIRIT AND THE WORD AGREE
Now I am certainly not trying to downplay the importance of hearing from God in other spiritual ways. His supernatural methods of leading and guiding us still are extremely relevant and necessary today, but my point is that we are never to just blindly follow a spectacular experience just because it was supernatural. No, we should always measure every experience we have by the Word because the Spirit of God will never contradict the Word of God.
But again, this does not mean that being led by the Spirit is less important. Both the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are extremely important and work together to lead us into all truth. Let me share with you an experience I once heard a lady had: There was a Christian lady who the Lord gave a dream to. In this dream she found herself on a beach, and on this beach, there were landmines buried all across it. As she stood there pondering how she was going to cross over this beach, the Lord spoke to her saying, “Would you rather I speak to you telling you where to take each step or would you rather I give you a map that tells you where every landmine is located?” The point the Lord was making through this dream was that she did not have to choose between those two options because God has already given them both to us.
You see, we have the Holy Spirit living within us—the voice of God—to lead us and guide us, but we also have the “map”—God’s Holy Word—that spells out to us the direction we are to take. We have the map (i.e. the Word) and we have the One who drew the map to interpret it for us (i.e. the Spirit). This, my friends, is a fail proof method! There is no excuse for us not always being led out of harm’s way and always into triumph!
Therefore, just as the cloud that led the children of Israel by day and Moses who communicated God’s Word to them operated in conjunction with one another, the ministry of the Holy Spirit compliments the Word of God in our lives. One is not more important than the other. Rather, they both work hand in hand to lead us on the path of life that shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18)! The Spirit and the Word agree and will never contradict each other.
So, in regards to hearing from God and being led by the Holy Spirit, what is the primary way God speaks to us under this new and better covenant? Certainly, He communicates to us through different avenues, but I am convinced that the most regular and clear way that He speaks to us is through the Bible. In fact, I believe that both of these two things help us to discern the direction given to us by the other. In other words, just as the Holy Spirit helps us to understand what God’s Word is saying, I personally believe that God’s Word is how we can more accurately discern the leading of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. Let me explain:
LIVING AND POWERFUL
Hebrews 4:12 reads— “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Now it’s important to note that the Greek word used for “Word of God” here is the word logos. This word logos is a reference to the truth contained in God’s written word. It describes a transmission of thought, a statement, or a word of explanation just as God’s Written Word is a compilation of God’s thoughts in written form.
And notice the first two words that the writer of Hebrews uses to describe the “Logos of God”—He says it is living and powerful. We must always remember that God’s Written Word is not just any book; it is a living and energetic book. Some of our translations say “quick” here but this is just an old English translation that describes something living. For instance, it was also used in Romans 4:17 when the Apostle Paul described God as the One who “quickens the dead.” So, this obviously describes giving life to the dead, and in this case being the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
So, His Word is living and it is life-giving. It is not just any old book. This Book is alive and, therefore, is able to give life! The moment one begins reading the Bible through spiritually dead eyes, they will never fully realize the life found in God’s Word. This is simply reading the “letter” and the Apostle Paul said that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God to us to where it’s not boring or hard to understand. He will quicken our senses to glean the life of God’s Word and resurrect the words off of the page and into our hearts! Hallelujah!
I have often heard from Christians how they have a hard time reading the Bible because they do not understand it. If that is one’s experience, then they are doing it all wrong. When we get full of the Holy Spirit and begin reading it through His lens, then this Book will become alive to us! Amen!
The second word Hebrews 4:12 used to describe the Word of God is “powerful.” This word is also a mistranslation. It comes from the Greek word energeo and is where we get our words “energy” or “energetic” from. So, this describes God’s Word as working, active, and effective—the opposite of being idle, inactive, and ineffective. Therefore, God’s Word has the ability to work its results in your life as you take heed to it.
First Thessalonians 2:13 says, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” The Amplified Bible adds the following at the end of the verse— "[exercising its superhuman power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it].”
So, with these two words, we see God’s Word as a living, breathing organism! (For doesn’t the Bible speak of itself as being God breathed?) It is actually alive and able to give life to those who let it enter their heart. It is full of energy—always active and working—and able to provide energy to those who have ears to hear.
THE DIAMOND & THE PRISM
You see, when we consider these two descriptions of God’s Word, one mistake we need to avoid making when reading it, is reading it like it is just any other book. It is easy to slip into this because of the weakness of our flesh, but the Bible is not meant to be read like we would, say, a history book. The Bible is more than just a compilation of facts and historical information. The Word of God is God-breathed! It is living and powerful! It is a Living Book, containing the power of Almighty God—power to transform you and the things which concern you. Therefore, we should not study it like it is a textbook. We should read it in faith—believing that it is God’s personal letter to us and that its Words are more than just letters on pages.
I like to compare the Word of God to a diamond: If you look at a diamond where there is little light, it can look just like any other rock—dead and uninteresting. But if you put that same diamond where there is a bright light, it will refract that light into many different, beautiful colors—like snow crystals appear on a clear and sunny day. This is exactly what reading the Bible is like.
If the Word of God is looked upon with no “light” (i.e. no faith and no Holy Spirit), its beauty will not be fully realized. But if “light” is present when it is read, nothing could appear more precious and valuable. On top of that, when the Bible is read with no light and like just any other book, each Scripture will be seen as having only one meaning—which would be the obvious interpretation based on the context. While considering the context that each verse was written in is a good and safe way to build our core-beliefs, we would also do good to read these same verses with an open heart, where the Holy Spirit can communicate directly to us on a personal level.
You see, every Scripture in the Bible is also like a prism: The angle at which the light hits a prism will determine the color that the prism will refract. Likewise, every verse of the Bible is capable of refracting a different meaning and personal application depending on the angle the Holy Spirit shines His light on it. I could give you example after example of this from my own life; but I can assure you that there is nothing like having God speak directly to you, like how Moses spoke to the children of Israel.
This is what makes the Bible alive and different from any other book. The Word contains all the infinite and inexhaustible treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). He, the Word, is the manifold (i.e. many faceted) wisdom of God, containing many shades, tints, hues, and colorful expressions. And when we see the Word of God like this, it becomes the most beautiful thing we ever laid our eyes on! Hallelujah!
SHARPER THAN ANY TWO-EDGED SWORD
Now notice how he goes on to describe the Word of God by the reference of it being “sharper than any two-edged sword.” This speaks of the ability of God’s Word to pierce and cut through anything! Glory! In fact, the Word of God being likened to a sword is referred to multiple times in the Word of God: The Book of Revelation speaks of Jesus having a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth (Revelation 1:16 & 19:15). Also, the Apostle Paul refers to this self-same sword in Ephesians 6:17 when referring to what he called “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
But I want you to notice what this sharp two-edged sword does according to Hebrews 4:12. “…piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
You see, the whole point of this passage is to show us how God’s Word has the power to pierce or divide between something, and what is this? Soul and spirit! Friends, this is so huge!
How many of you have ever said either— “I am not sure if what I am hearing is God or if it’s just me!” or “I am confused as to whether this is God leading me to do this or if it is just my own desires.”??? If we were all honest, we’ve all had these thoughts.
Well, allow me to show you how to better know the answer to this: You know, one of the hardest things to find a distinction between in all of the Word of God is the soul and the spirit. In fact, some of the authors of Scripture use these two terms synonymously—giving the impression that they are one and the same. But this is not true—for First Thessalonians 5:23 reveals to us that there is a difference between the spirit of man and the soul of man.
The spirit is the immaterial and eternal part of man. It is the part of us that is born again and has the life of God abiding within it. It is the part that was made a new creation—completely righteous and holy. It is the part that produces the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, etc. The soul is also an immaterial part of us—but it includes our mind, will, emotions, intellect and personality.
You see, the difference between the soul and spirit is further illustrated by the writer of Hebrews by going on to describe the bone joint and the bone marrow. The marrow is contained within the bone—being the core of the bone itself. It is where blood cells are formed. This is an illustration of our spirit—our inner most core of our being and it is the part of us that the blood of Jesus has touched. Bone joints are what “join” the bones together. Likewise, the soul is what connects the spirit and the body. The Bible speaks of how we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. Other Scriptures reveal to us how the soul is part of us that causes our body to experience what has already transpired in our spirit.
Now the regenerated spirit of man is where the Mind of Christ abides (i.e. the Holy Spirit). In other words, our born-again spirit is the part of us that knows all things. The soul, on the other hand, is just in the process of knowing all things. It is not linked up to God yet and is in the ever-going process of being renewed.
And, last but not least, Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is the “discerner” or “capable of judging between” the thoughts and intents of the heart. Now we know that the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. It can deceive one very easily. BUT (I said BUT)… But the Word of God is capable of judging between the “thoughts” of the heart and the “intentions” of the heart. The “thoughts of the heart” is a reference to the soul where our mind is located. The “intentions of our heart” is a reference to the spirit of man. How do I know this? Do you remember where Jesus said, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”? The Apostle Paul said in Second Corinthians chapter 9 that we are to give as we purpose in our heart. Here, he is referencing spirit-inspired giving. Romans chapter 7 says a lot about the spirit of man desiring, willing, and wanting to follow after God’s law. So, the spirit has good intentions. It is willing and desirous to follow God’s will. It purposes to do the right thing. In short, being Spirit-led is intentional, not emotional. It is acting on what you believe. It is hiding His Word in your heart and listening to it when it rises up in you. It's being faithful to the Word you know is true when the going gets tough. Many of us are so used to being led by our emotions that we are going to need to renew our minds and become more intentional and deliberate in our decision-making process. Remember that Jesus “was perfected through the things He suffered.” (See Hebrews 2:10) We need to be ready to do the same.
So, my point is that the problem most of us have is distinguishing between what is of the spirit and what is of the soul when it comes to God’s direction. This is where the Word of God comes in! It is the thing that helps divide between those thoughts of “Was that just me and my emotions or was that a Spirit-inspired idea?” In other words, the Word of God is able to discern between what is just our own thoughts and what is a spirit-inspired intention. Yes, it is God’s Word that is capable of discerning or dividing between God’s Words. What I mean by that is, when we put God’s Word at a place of importance in our heart, it will help us distinguish between when what we are hearing on the inside is God’s voice or another voice.
Did David not say in Psalm 119:11—“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You”? Well, I want to challenge you to consider this verse in this light we are talking about. The word “sin” literally means to “miss the mark”, right? So what King David was saying was that when we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we can keep ourselves from missing it!
You see, God’s Word abiding in our hearts gives the Holy Spirit so much more to work with! As we hide His Word in our hearts through reading, studying, and meditating it, we are loading our heart with various truths to remind us of when we need direction and guidance from Him.
Now it is true that to know just a little bit of Scripture can actually be harmful in that the devil is a master at using the Bible to condemn and deceive God’s children. He tried to do this to Jesus in the wilderness when he quoted a passage from the 91st Psalm in an attempt to deceive Jesus. So, yes, it is of the utmost importance to have an honest and balanced understanding of God’s Word to keep one from being deceived by a Scripture that is taken out of context.
But the bottom line is, hearing God speak to you His Word is the safest way of hearing from Him. Why? Because He will never conflict with His Word. He has exalted His Word even above His name and He changes not. So, all Scripture—which is given by inspiration of God—is profitable for teaching, reproving, correcting, and instructing us.
God’s Word—the Lord Jesus Christ, whom Moses is a type of, says to you and I today, “Follow Me!” This is the first step into a Spirit-led life where that Holy Spirit cloud leads us into our Promised Land. Amen, and Hallelujah!