Have you ever deliberately guided a child one way or another to avoid something? Maybe a taking your toddler niece to the “lolly free” check out or the long way around the shops so you don’t go past the pet store because then you won’t get harassed into visiting the cute kitties and puppies? Or you’ve changed a conversation so someone won’t be hurt?
“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.” Exodus 13:17-18
As I read this scripture I notice two things. The first is that God didn’t accidently let the people wander into the wilderness. He didn’t send them there because they were naughty. He didn’t send them there to teach them a lesson or two. He led them there for their own protection.
For the first time I’ve actually stopped to really think through what it must have been like for the Israelites to go from being slaves to having total freedom, all in a night. Their self-esteem must have been a distance memory. Their ability to rule and govern themselves long gone. No sense of identity, of culture, of social norms. No direction, no plans for the future, and no experience in deciding what they were going to do each day. No wonder their loving heavenly Father was very protective of them. No wonder He meticulously gave them so many laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy to live by – they were used to being strictly controlled as slaves, they needed loving discipline until they could govern themselves. This is amazing love.
So it makes me wonder if, or rather when, God has done this for me. As I look back over my life I can see when He has taken me deliberately in one direction or another, when He has put His boundaries around me when I couldn’t do that for myself. He is always a loving, good God.
The second thing I notice is that “the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks”. Our God is a God of order. You see it through out nature – order, neatness, and organisation. I Corinthians 14:33 reminds us “For God is not theauthor of confusion but of peace.” When God does something, even like fleeing Egypt in the middle of the night, there should be a sense of order, a knowing that there is a plan being out of worked out. Even in feelings of chaos, you should be able to see some organisation. And above all, a sense of peace, which lets you know that God is leading the people as they flee from slavery, avoid war, and head into the unknown that is The Wilderness Way.
Has there been a time in your life when God has lead you into a wilderness like situation? How did you feel going into it? Did you see the value afterwards?Share your experience in the comments below.
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