The Way of the Wilderness Is A Discovery Zone (Part 1)
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. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.” So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. Exodus 13:17-22
Israel took forty years to make, what should have been, an eleven-day transition. It wasn’t because God was so slow in delivering his promises; it was because Israel, in many ways, were slow learners spiritually. They had to repeat their lessons and you’re going to repeat your lessons too until you learn them. God won’t bring you into your future, without a transition, He won’t bring you into your new beginning until you learn what you need to during your transition. For Israel, something had to end, then there was a period between that which ended and that which began. Exodus chapter 13 shows that, for Israel coming out of Egypt, the “way of the wilderness” was indeed a discovery zone. The discovery zone was a place that Israel found themselves after a change. After slavery in Egypt ended, Israel gave birth to a transition. In the discovery zone, as Israel experienced, you discover the awesomeness of God. You’ll discover your destiny in God. You discover things about yourself that you didn’t know about yourself. In the discovery zone, not only do you discover God and yourself, but also you discover who your friends are. You discover who your enemies are. You discover if you really have believed God; you discover if you’re going to keep His commandments or not; you discover what’s in your mind; and, you discover your real feelings (Deuteronomy 8:2). It all takes place in the discovery zone.
In Exodus 13:3-5, Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. On this day you are going out, in the month Abib. And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month.” Moses is speaking to the people after Pharaoh had decided to let them go, after Pharaoh had decided to release them from the bondage, the degradation and the destitute of slavery. Something had ended for them. Legally, slavery ended for them. They didn’t have to go down to the brickyards, as it were, to make bricks without straw. They didn’t have to report to their hard taskmaster’s houses to work without receiving a fair wage because slavery had ended. But remember with every ending, there is a transition before we enter into a new beginning. So Moses here is telling them about the process. He says, “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage for by strength of the hand of the Lord brought you out of this place. No leaven bread shall be eaten by you on this day. Here, Moses says something has ended, but there’s going to be a new beginning. But between the ending and the new beginning, there would be a wilderness, there would be a discovery zone, there would be a transition. And in the new beginning, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Cannanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep his service in this month.
We’ve pointed out what ended and what would begin for Israel. Now let’s talk about the new beginning to get from where they ended, i.e., slavery, to the place that God promised them, the land of Canaan, a land overflowing with milk and honey. Verse 17 says, “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go….” God did not lead them by the way of the Philistines although that was near. God is not a God of shortcuts. God takes us what seems to be oftentimes the long way home. God has a destiny for every one of us. God has a vision for every one of us. God has goals and objectives for every one of us. Your life is not by chance. You don’t always make this thing up as you go along; but even before the foundations of the world, God saw you. He chose you for a certain destiny in Him. God doesn’t take us the shortest route, but He takes us His route. His route depends on us, it depends on where we are, and it depends on our mental and emotional makeup. Our mental makeup, our emotional makeup. Sometimes, God has to take us in such a way to get things out of us. Even though Israel came out of Egypt, they still had Egypt in them (Numbers 11:5). Many of us have come out of darkness and the bondage of the world we lived in, but is the world out of us? Are you still holding on? Is there a sense of loss? Is there a sense of grief? You can’t hang around with the same crowd any more. You can’t go to places you used to go and because you can’t do what you used to do, you say, “well being saved is no fun.” And then you wonder why its taking so long to come into the fullness that you dreamed about, that which you believed, that which God has promised you. No! God doesn’t take us the shortest route. I don’t know about you, but when I’m ready to go home, I’m invariably looking for a shortcut. But in God, He doesn’t give us shortcuts. It’s necessary to go through the process. To be all you can be in God, you’ve got go through the process.
(Above post taken from my book, The Discovery Zone, chapter three)