Daily devotionals by Keith Truscott
- Background & Introduction -
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
Exodus 13:21 (ESV)
Background to ‘Cloud and Fire’
Short biography: I was born in Darwin, Northern Territory of Australia in 1950. My first eight years was in an Aboriginal mission called Retta Dixon Home. Before I was 12 years of age I had had three changes to my surname through fostering and adoption near Sydney, but I am happy with my present last name of Keith Charles Truscott. My traditional Aboriginal ties are with the Antakarinyin people of Northern South Australia. My mother was “stolen” from her language and country as a child. I had to go back and re-learn my language. Whilst living in New South Wales I had variety of jobs from brickies’ labourer, farm-labourer, to newspaper clerk. When I moved to Western Australia in 1975, I have been mainly a university academic and pastor of an Indigenous church in Perth, Western Australia. My dream is to see the Indigenous church learn, grow and mature in the Lordship of Christ in their lives. I am married to Stephanie and have three children, fifteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. In 2018 I would have been an Indigenous Pastor in Perth for the last 25 years.
The “Cloud and Fire” collection of Bible verses and poems are based on the daily “Reflections…”
that I have been texting to a few “friends and family…” in Australia and overseas for about two years (2015-2017). The texting began with the realisation that today’s world tells itself it is too busy to take the time to read and reflect on God’s Word every day. So I thought one good way to get their attention and hearts was to text daily Bible verse reminders to all sorts of “friends and family…” through fresh daily poetry that sought to still stay true to the context of the Bible verse. So through trial and error, joining Bible verses and poetic lines have worked themselves into a great team in two ways.
First, God’s Word the Bible is timeless, honest and personal which asks for a human response to remember, reflect and relate to God’s ways. God always wants us to return to Him on His holy terms. In the Garden of Eden the first man Adam was created by God “in his own image” (Genesis 1:27a). Then as the human family began their first steps to increase and build order, they remembered their roots and the “people began to call upon the name of God” (Genesis 4:26b).
Second, poetry is a good way to “reason together” through rhythm and rhyme. Christian poetry also soothes the soul and asks us to ‘stop, look and listen’ to what God has done, is doing and will do for any searching heart. The choice is then on the reader to make a mental and spiritual effort to build their hopes and plans on God’s order of the world.
Third, the poetic “reflections…” style is based on a simple structure of mostly two syllable words and six rhyming lines. Generally, the first two lines talk simply of our human condition and struggles. Then the two central verses highlight God’s work in our world and Bible stories and characters, and the last two lines calls readers to allow God to work in their lives.
Choice of “cloud and fire’’ title
When Moses freed the Hebrews from 430 years of slavery in Egypt, it took a mighty work of God. The book of Exodus (chapters 7-12) records ten plagues God sent upon the Egyptians that turned the tide of Pharaoh’s stubborn heart. These were the water turned to blood (7:20), frogs (8:6), gnats or lice (8:17), flies (8:24), livestock died (9:6), boils (9:10), hail (9:23), locusts (10:13), darkness (10:23) and finally death of the firstborn of livestock and human families (12:29). But the sequel to this greatest escape story ever told is equally amazing. God led the Hebrew people by “pillar of cloud” by day and by “a pillar of fire” by night for 40 years all the way through the wilderness to the entrance to the Promised Land of Canaan.
“And the Lord went before the before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”
Exodus 13:21 (ESV).
The pillar of cloud and fire are a symbol of God’s presence at all times. God had compassion on His people and did not want to abandon them in the desert. Whenever the cloud and fire stopped the Hebrews stopped and camped there. The Levite tribes would then set up the Tabernacle (House) of God underneath the pillar of cloud and fire in the center of the campground. Everyone was then able to see God’s clear presence in the middle of the camp (Exodus 40:34-38). The Bible does not say when the pillar of cloud and fire leading stopped, but it does summarise all their travels and these travels stopped on the Plains of Moab (Numbers 33:49). We learn that the breakfast manna from heaven stopped when they crossed the Jordan River and were in the Promised Land. Maybe the miraculous guidance by cloud and fire also stopped after the people “ate the produce of the land” (Joshua 5:11).
My hope is the all the readers of “could and fire” will also move on when God shows them by His Word to move on, and to stop when God’s Word tells them to stop. Yet in all decision making my prayer is that God’s presence, safety and favour would always guide them.
Other “cloud and fire” types: God has at various times and places appeared in “cloud and fire” types, signs and symbols that showed not only His protection, fellowship and guidance but also His awesome glory, power, holiness and full authority. There was Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24) and Elijah on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19) and when both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on Mount Hermon in Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:1). They talked together about how Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah would fulfil all the law and the prophets with His coming death, resurrection and ascension.
Christ Jesus ascended to heaven in the clouds (Acts 1:9) and will return in similar manner (Acts 1:11). Then there is the birth of the Church with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) when tongues of “fire” appeared in the upper room. Then there is the coming splendor when Christ Jesus will finally return to earth ‘in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27; Revelation 1:7) when all the earth will recognise that He is God’s Son and the Jewish Messiah and also to bring final judgment on the earth (Revelation 14:14) and set up His kingdom.
“And night will be no more. They will need no light or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5 ESV). Here are good reasons for all the saints to endure.
A loving, lasting legacy
A dear old, single white missionary, Miss Cavanagh, taught us 6-10 Mission boys in the dormitory a Bible verse each night in the mid-1950s. I listened intently to her and so by the end of the week we learnt a whole Psalm of David. This went on for a few weeks till I learnt about four psalms and Bible passages off by heart. Then I was fostered out and sent down South to Sydney. I did not return for another ten years. But these poetic passages of Scriptures laid my faith foundation. I treasure them greatly today. In my personal quiet time with the Lord I try to always say them to prepare my heart coming before approaching a holy Heavenly Father in prayer. May you learn and teach them to your children as it was taught to me. Since those early childhood years, I have Pastored over forty years and gone on to learn more passages of Scriptures. But my Christian walk began in the Mission. I thank the good Lord for all missionaries for their time they invested in us. Some may have been white and single, but they were often our mothers, and we were their children. I honour their loving, lasting legacy. So I dedicate these “Cloud and Fire” Bible verses and my reflective poems to all the missionaries and workers and their families and also the children who lived and served for a short or a long time in Retta Dixon Home in Darwin, Northern Territory. Miss Cavanagh was once such person.
Hallelujah! To God be all the glory!