Exodus 23:20ff begins with an awkward statement that an angel will be sent to guide the redeemed nation into the promised land and the people are instructed to obey him. But truly wonderful is the statement that God’s name is in this angel, thus we can be assured the messenger or guide sent to the people of Israel is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ in his pre-incarnate state. He alone could carry the name of God within him. He alone can speak God’s words and we are told to listen to all that he says (Matthew 17:5). He alone is capable of standing against all our enemies and driving them out in order to lead us into a promised land.Though there were literal promises made to Israel about the entrance into the land of Canaan, these physical realities like so much of the Old Testament story serve to illustrate spiritual realities that only Christ can and does fulfill. True Israel will enter into the land and must trust God to drive out the various inhabitants in order to make room for his people, but this is really small potatoes when we consider that Christ drives out the spiritually dark powers of this world from our personal lives first and also from the arenas in which he sends us to minister. He does this all the while calling for our obedience and assuring all the unrepentant that judgment is imminent and it will be complete.
yet just as the warnings to Israel about the draw of idolatry were real, they serve to remind the Christian that even in our victorious state, the lure of the world can be a snare to us if we don’t continue to listen to our Lord alone. There can be no compromise, no cohabitation with the evil people living in the land, just as there can be no compromise with the false theologies of the world – its religions, philosophies and even luke-warm presentations of discipleship. No, the promise is simple, with complete obedience comes victory ‘little by little’ with compromise comes failure.
Let us live lives of complete abandon to our Lord Jesus who alone could be the completion of this promised guiding angel. Amen.