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Exodus 13:21-22

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. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Such is the rapid progress of technological advancement in this present age that I just watched a commercial of a driver falling asleep at the wheel and his truck continuing to drive itself. Now, I know we already have automated customer service agents and robotic lawnmowers and AI phone systems that can lock our doors and turn on our lights and answer whatever questions we might have, but the thought of a car driving itself, with me in it, is just too much. Not merely because the thought of AI sophistication is a bit freaky, but more because it confines man’s tactile work to the mere pressing of a button or the turn of a key or the vocalizing of a prompt. In a world where everything’s automatic, where toil is eliminated, where human endeavor means sitting back and letting robot-servants do our bidding, we eventually not only lose the God-given fulfillment of human toil, but we transvalue what being made in the image of God actually entails.

See, friend, deists believe that God effectively created life on this earth as a well-working machine, that He pressed an ‘on’ switch for seasons and water cycles and flora and fauna, and that His divine genius is revealed in His ability to engineer automatic working systems that can operate independently of Him. But that isn’t the hubris of God at all. God’s glory isn’t in automating a redemption story, but in carrying it forth with His own hands, on His own shoulders, bearing the scars in His own body. And that’s what stands out to me here in Exodus 13:21. Not that God was benevolent enough to create and sustain shade by day and light by night, but that He was present in them. That when the people saw the pillar every second of every day, it meant that Jehovah was right there in the wilderness by their side, even when they were sleeping, even when they failed to notice, even when they couldn’t care less, because that’s where He’s always been!