And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. (Exodus 14:19-20)
During hours of darkness, the pillar of cloud (actually the Angel of the LORD) would be replaced by a pillar of fire. It isn’t that the two were different, necessarily, but were distinct manifestations depending upon whether it was day or night. On this occasion pillar of cloud, which had been their vanguard, was positioned to act as their rearguard. In so doing it plunged the Egyptians into complete darkness while, at the same time, giving light to Israel. Frankly, it all sounds very similar to the plague of darkness that descended upon Egypt.
This repositioning of the cloud acted as a shield for Israel, keeping the two camps apart, and also, obscuring His plans to the enemy while revealing the path forward to His people. In other words, the Egyptians were literally in the dark as to what was happening. They were powerless to move while Israel was allowed to cross the sea undetected. What was a detriment to one was a benefit to the other.
Through this we see a concept that has been repeated time and again throughout history. When God moves in the earth, His actions may have a negative impact on one while providing a blessing for another. More specifically, when God brings judgment upon the world it will be a nightmare for the wicked, but for the righteous it will be vindication and deliverance. So, if you are His, remember that when things begin to grow dark in this world, look for the lighted path He has prepared that leads us to victory and salvation.
Blessings and Shalom,