So, I began the story of the journey through the wilderness fully expecting to hear from God. And, would you believe, I read the first verse and had to stop. Exodus 13:17 is where the children of Israel begin their journey.
When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” – Exodus 13:17
There are a few things that immediately jumped out at me upon reading this verse.
- When Pharoah finally let the people go…These people had been suffering for quite some time. They had been crying out to God for relief for what must have seemed like forever. For years they had lived in sorrow and wondered why God was not answering their cries for mercy. I can, only in small measure, understand what they must have felt. God, we’re hurting. God, we’re waiting. Show yourself, God. When we feel all alone in our pain…if only we realized how close He is to us. He is not unaware. He is not uncaring. He is all knowing and all loving. He knows that, when deliverance comes, the pain will have been more than worth it.
- …God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land…Do you know what these words mean? There was an easier way! There was a quicker way! Sometimes, being aware of God’s power, makes it much harder to wait for things. We know that He can do anything. He can change any circumstance, heal any pain, answer any prayer…and He could do it instantly. Yet, sometimes, He chooses the long way out. He walks us down the rougher road. Why? Because He knows best. He sees things we don’t see. He knows things we don’t know. He knows what we would encounter on the “easy road” that might cause us to stumble…
- God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”…God is so aware of our weaknesses. He knew that, though there was a way that appeared easier, there were also possible dangers on that road. He knew that if the Israelites were faced with hardships and Egypt was still in their sight…they would be tempted to return. While we want to take the easy way out of our problems, God wants us to take the better way. What looks easy may hold dangers that we are unaware of…dangers that may cause us to turn from what God has planned and return to our old ways. God wants us to be so far down the road with Him that, when we are faced with a battle, the comfort of home is out of sight and we have no choice but to cling to Him and keep moving forward.
Be committed to following God…even if He leads you the wilderness way.