A Most Critical Lesson
When the Israelites walked through the blood-soaked doorpost they were free people. They had been held in captivity for four hundred years and the air smelled differently the morning of their release. What they had in mind isn’t too difficult to surmise by their actions. They had armed themselves for battle as told in Exodus.
Exodus 13:17-22 New International Version (NIV)
17 “When Pharaoh let the people go; God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”
They had their idea of what was in their future and prepared according to that idea. For this reason, we need a God that is all-knowing, all-powerful, and always present. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts nor are our ways His ways. God took them by the hand, so to speak, so they would not run into physical combat on the shorter route. He took them the long way around through the desert.
Have you noticed how new converts to Christ anticipate the way forward as free from difficulty? Many become discouraged when they find a whole new set of challenges. The children of Israel expected a fight and left fully equipped.
In both cases, the new convert and the Israelites were off the mark. However, the purposes of God were the same.
God knew then and knows now, the most critical ingredient for success. Everyone must learn to depend on Jesus. From the day the slaves of Egypt were freed from captivity God began the long and arduous journey to dependence. As is for all of us, the Christian walk is strewn with pitfalls and unexpected hazards.
God promised both the freedom walkers and every other person who comes to Him He will surely go before them to guide the way. It was a cloud concealing His presence for the Israelites and the Holy Spirit for you and me that assures us He is there. Not only is He there, but moves out in front so we’ll not stumble. And as Israel followed the cloud wherever it went let us follow the Spirit wherever He leads for He is on His way to the Promised Land.