God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea.
As God guided the Israelites through the wilderness, He did not always lead them the fastest way from point A to point B. Instead, He often took them along another route, one that did not seem to make logical sense but one that God had orchestrated in His careful and sovereign plan.
For example, when God led the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and into the wilderness, He took them in an unexpected direction. The Bible says, “God did not lead [the Israelites] by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, ‘The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea” (Exodus 13:17-18).
I confess that I am geographically challenged–my wife, Amy, will tell you that. So for me to make sense of this passage, I had to go back to the maps in the back of my Bible. And I discovered that to get from Egypt to the Promised Land, the most direct route would be to go due east, along the way called the “Way of the Philistines.”
The Philistines were a mighty, warring people who had been Israel’s enemy for hundreds of years. That is why God told them to go around the Way of the Philistines. If Israel had taken the most direct route, then they would have encountered the Philistines and possibly have become so discouraged that they would have turned back and gone to Egypt.
I find an interesting insight about God’s dealings with us in this passage. As God maps out the course of our lives, He takes our fears into account. He knows what would discourage you and me. He knows what would cause us to be fearful, and He takes that into account just as He did for Israel when He was planning the course along which He would lead them. This is not to say that God will never lead you to face your fears–we read later that Israel did eventually come face-to-face with the Philistines–but God takes our fears into account as He plans the course of our lives, aligning our circumstances to achieve His ultimate purposes.
There is another reason God chose this more circuitous route for the Israelites to travel. He led them that way because He had planned for them a Red Sea moment.
As God leads us along life’s journey, He sometimes plans for us to encounter impossible situations. These are not your run-of-the-mill difficulties, like losing your car keys or burning your homemade dinner. These are intense dilemmas from which there is no way out unless God supernaturally intervenes. I call those situations our “Red Sea moments.” In our Red Sea moments, we come to the end of our abilities and are forced to rely completely on God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Seizing Your Red Sea Moment” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.