GUIDED BY GOD, NOT GOOGLE
Heavenly Father, You created the world in which I live and built the church in which I serve. My heart overflows with thanksgiving to You.
Read EXODUS 13:17 – 14:9
Crossing the Sea
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.[a] 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.”[b]
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.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” 6 So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7 He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. 9 The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen[c] and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.
- Exodus 13:18 Or the Sea of Reeds
- Exodus 13:19 See Gen. 50:25.
- Exodus 14:9 Or charioteers; also in verses 17, 18, 23, 26 and 28
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will’, said Corrie ten Boom, who suffered in a concentration camp for hiding Jews. Reflect on what ‘safe’ means.
Modern travelers are heavily reliant on Google maps. After factoring in weather, traffic, road conditions, mode of transportation and any required stops along the way, the app lists alternative routes to the desired destination, indicating both distance and duration. Travelers discover that the shortest route is not always the speediest.
The Israelites had no Google maps, or indeed any maps, but they had God. In selecting the route, God didn’t merely consider the miles involved but factored in His people’s status as newly liberated slaves, their physical, mental, and emotional preparedness for battle, and the prowess of the Egyptian army who guarded ‘the road through the Philistine country’ (v 17). Accordingly, God opted to lead His people ‘around by the desert road towards the Red Sea’ (v 18). This was neither the shortest nor the easiest route, but it was the one most suited to God’s ultimate purpose (14:4) and His people’s current circumstances. Although most of us probably don’t understand the intricacies of how Google figures out the best route, we’re generally quite happy to accept its recommendation. Can the same be said of our response to God’s guidance in our lives?
Thus far, the Israelites had followed God’s instructions: sticking to the route He had mapped out (v 18), faithfully following the pillar of cloud (vs 21,22) and obediently setting up camp by the sea (v 2). But they are still blissfully unaware that the Egyptian army is in hot pursuit! Their route advisor has not only led them by a circuitous, even torturous, route, He has now brought them to an apparent dead end. Tomorrow’s reading will reveal how the people respond when they find themselves trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea – or rather, Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea!
‘The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.’1 How does this inform your thinking, form your feelings, and transform your choices?
Father God, I know I will always have problems, that’s life. However, I thank You for Your strategies to deal with the problems and the strength to endure.
1 Billy Graham, 1918–2018
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