Reading: Exodus 13:17-22
God does not lead His people to Canaan along the shortest route, but sends them through the desert, by a long, difficult and dangerous journey. If they take the short route, the main road, the Philistines will immediately declare war. Israel is just a nation of slaves fresh out of slavery and not ready for war. They are not trained to use weapons, know little about military tactics, and have no courage to face an enemy. Furthermore if the Egyptians hear about anyone else attacking Israel, they will soon join in to take revenge on Israel. Israel will then give up and return to Egypt as slaves. We know from later history that Israel is very weak and ready to return as soon as face difficulties. They were also quick to rebel against God and easily reject His fatherly grace and care offered to them.
God in His great wisdom and compassion provides for Israel in an excellent way. He leads them towards the desert where no-one will attack them. There He will care for them and gradually restore their confidence and strength so that eventually they can fight.
God is very wise. He often does not deal with His people according to human principles; instead He uses ways which best suit to their infirmity. We too are comforted that God does all things for the safety and advantage of His people. Let us therefore not question God if he sometimes takes the church and its members individually through difficult times.
We see a another sign of God’s mercy and love for His people in Ex 13:21 “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.” How reassuring it is for Israel to know that almighty God himself leads the way and so preserves them. Today God also leads and preserves the church. As Jesus Christ says, we therefore need not worry about tomorrow.
Key text: Ex 13:18 “So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea.”
Question: If the church, or you personally, go through a difficult time are you worried or do you complain? How does Exodus 13:17-22 help you?