Lord, I know that wherever You lead me it will benefit me in the long run.
Read Exodus 13:17–22
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.
19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 19
“This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.” What does that mean to you?
God is pretty canny when it comes to human psychology! He knows when to test us, but also when to avoid putting us in testing situations before we are ready. Is this, perhaps, partly why divine guidance so often doesn’t seem straightforward? Sometimes God has to lead us in a very roundabout way! The direct route to Philistia was heavily guarded by Egypt, so God led the Israelites via “the desert road” (18). This was not so much desert as steppe, grazing country, somewhere east of the Nile Delta, though the exact location is not certain. But they went prepared: prepared for battle (as a motley crowd of escaped slaves, perhaps, with the weapons they had used to protect their livestock from wild animals?) and prepared to carry Joseph’s mummified body (Gen. 50:26) back home for burial. Despite his unbounded success and towering importance in that land, Joseph had never considered Egypt his real home (Gen. 50:25 with Heb. 11:22; cf. Josh. 24:32).
So God led them on, step by step, most probably south to Sinai then north to Kadesh, a route which would include the northern extension of one of the two arms of the Red Sea—more a sea of reeds and brackish shallow water than sea proper. Cloud and fire are often associated with God as symbols, in both Old and New Testaments (Exod. 19:16-18; Matt. 17:5; Acts 1:9); they symbolized his presence with them and highlighted the transcendence of God.
Can you recall some roundabout guidance in your life that perhaps seemed perplexing at the time, but with hindsight you could discern the hand of God in all that happened? Perhaps something like this describes your present experience. Are you as prepared as you can be for the journey, yet aware of God’s presence leading you on?
Think about the times you wondered just how you were going to get through some pressing situation in your life. Can you really say that you could have done it apart from the Lord?
Lord, help me to trust You when it’s hard to see the way forward and to follow the clues You give me.