The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way,
and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night.
Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
[Exodus 13: 21–22]
A third way that God is revealed to us is the way that God acts in history. The image of the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire mark part of the story of the exodus from Egypt. This event – God acting to save the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt – is one that Jews, Christians and Muslims accept as part of their history with God. God’s faithfulness to us is clear in the historical ways that God has acted in history.
There are many other examples too: during the exile many writers spoke of God’s continuing work; God steps directly into history as Jesus; and Mary, when she learns of her pregnancy, speaks of God acting throughout history:
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
[Luke 1: 50–52]
At Pentecost, Christians believe that God acted directly in history, coming as the Holy Spirit to help bring about the birth of the church. Many see God acting in more recent history too, such as in revivals of Christianity and in world events.
God of history,
We praise and thank you that you are active in the world.
You heard the voices of the Israelites and rescued them from slavery;
You led them through the wilderness;
You were with them through exile and concerns.
You stepped into history;
You continue to act in history.
When we choose to look,
We see your care for us and we thank you.