God leads Israel a certain way because He does not want them to encounter war and get scared. Yet, Israel marches in battle array. Such is prideful human nature, by which we always believe we are ready for more than we are. Further, in our flesh we are always ready for a fight even if we are not prepared. We see the same tendency plainly through the way many people use social media. With the bones of Joseph in tow. On their trek from Succoth to Etham (modern day Ismailia), Yahweh “was going” before them–fire by night and cloud by day. The fire and cloud remained while the people were traveling.
We can easily speculate that the Israelites are walking toward a volcano, but such speculation is not necessary. The fire is bright enough that the Israelites can see to walk at night. The cloud is near enough to follow. God does some wondrous things. God, who smote Egypt can certainly produce fire and cloud without needing a volcano. By not taking away the cloud by day or the fire by night, God shows that He is always with His people, guiding them. Yet, they march in battle array. God is correct about their readiness and faithfulness. They are afraid.