“Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.
“So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Exodus 23:20-26)
It’s not just up to you. You’re not on your own. The word rendered “angel” in English is a transliteration of the Greek word meaning “messenger,” which is also what the Hebrew word here in Exodus meant. A messenger can be a human being working for a king, or for God, or a supernatural agent working for God. Here, it represented something supernatural: God’s physical presence before his people signified by the pillar of fire at night and the cloud during the day. God assured the people that they were not facing their problems alone, but that wherever they went, his presence would be there.
God warned the people to obey the angel and to do whatever he said. Additionally, he warned them against the gods and religious practices of the Canaanites, the people already living in the promised land. Faithfulness to God would result in prosperity for the Israelites: full harvests, many children, and a full lifespan. The only thing the Israelites had to fear was God—and then, only if they disobeyed and failed to abide by the terms of the contract.
God does not promise us a life without problems. The Israelites spent forty years in the desert, after all, and fought a long war against strong enemies before they settled down in the land of promise. But every day, every struggle, God was there. They weren’t alone. Neither are we.