“I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you.” Exodus 23:28
God goes before his people. This comfortable theme appears here and there in Scripture and finds its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ who went before us into death and glory. In our text God promises to go before the children of Israel into the land. He presents his promise in the figure of hornets.
If the mention of that insect doesn’t leave you with any distinct impression, the prior verse spells out exactly what God means by it: “I will send my terror before you” (v. 27). That is God’s idea of hornets; it seems also the reason why he didn’t make them three feet in length! Our glorious Creator fashioned hornets to be aerial emissaries of terror. A personal bodyguard of them (at their current size!) would be a formidable asset to any man.
What adds wonder to wonder is that God not only presents his promise under this figure; he presents himself under it. It’s his terror. It is himself, or more properly speaking, his Son, who goes before. Verse 23 says, in parallel, “When my angel goes before you…” The Angel of the LORD is a divine messenger both distinct from the LORD and identified with him (v. 20-21). He’s the Hornet of God.
Christ goes before us in this way. We are called to take this land of Canaan, this spiritual life, and he sends our foes into dismay before us. He has already gone ahead of us into death and judgement, and into resurrection and life forevermore. He has terrorized both our sin and the devil, destroying death’s sting by stinging death to death. He has ascended to the right hand of Power, where he ministers as our forerunner and breaks the power of sin in our lives today. When we follow him, he’s with us, and wars before us. He swarms and overwhelms our spiritual foes. Let’s be mindful of his glorious, terrible presence and all his helps for us today.