The Way of the Wilderness Is A Discovery Zone (Part 2)
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
Why didn’t God lead them by way of the land of the Philistines although that was near? Because God said, Lest perhaps the people change their minds whey they see war and return to Egypt. God knew that even though these people had been liberated, even though these people had been released from the bondage of slavery, they still had slave mentalities. They were just raw recruits, just inexperienced rookies. They weren’t ready to fight the Philistines. And another thing that secular history tells us about the way of the Philistines, is that the Egyptian armies often patrolled that road very heavily. So why would God bring you out of a bad situation just to get you back into a worse situation? God did not deliver you out of the vile conditions you’ve lived in, out of the house of ill repute you used to hang around in, just to send you back there. God didn’t lift you up just to let you down. He didn’t bring you in just to let you go out. But God brought you where you are because He ended something and now you’re in a transition so that you can enter into a new beginning, a new future.
God said Israel wasn’t ready. When they see war, they will change their minds and think and say that it was better to be a slave, because at least, I was a living slave. A lot of people don’t mind having a pharaoh in our lives, a lot of us don’t mind being in bondage, a lot of us don’t mind being in chains as long as we can get gold chains. You don’t want a ball and a chain around your ankles, even if it glitters with 14-carat gold. You want to be free in God. And often times, being free in God means that you are going through a transition process. Transition isn’t the most comfortable experience, but it will make us, it will break us, it will cause us to be everything God wants us to be. We will stand up and not fall, and when we enter into the promise, when we enter into the land, we will stand and not fall in the land. We will enjoy the goodness of God in the land. We will bring glory to God and all nations that see us will know that we’re a delightsome land and they too will give glory to God!
So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness of the read sea. Have you ever felt like your life was going around in circles? Feeling like, you’ve passed this way before. I want you to know that God was still leading you just as He led Israel. God led these people around but He didn’t lead them in on a direct route. Most people, when traveling, when going on a trip, they want to get a map with the most direct route. Why? Because they want to get to their destination in a hurry. It isn’t that way in God, God will lead us around and about, intentionally.
So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea and the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt. Some other translations of the Bible translate this verse as, “the children of Israel went up harnessed, the children of Israel went up armed. The children of Israel went up equipped.” What were they armed with? What were they equipped with? How could they have been harnessed when they were just slaves? Exodus chapter 15 answers this query. When Israel finally crossed over the Red Sea, they had the song of the Lord. They had the praise of God in their hearts. They rejoiced because they had a promise from God.
When you have a word from God. When you have the joy of the Lord, when you have a song in your heart, you are armed—the same way Jehosaphat’s army was armed when they went out to fight the Moabites, the Ammonites and the children of Mount Seir ( 2 Chronicles 20). They didn’t have carnal weapons such as swords and spears and other battle armaments. All they had was praise unto God. As they began to sing and praise God and say that “God is good and His mercy endures forever,” then their enemy was confounded and they slaughtered and destroyed themselves; thus, giving God’s people a great victory. I don’t care what you’re faced with today. I don’t care what’s standing before you– how wide it is, how tall it is– if you’ll begin to praise God; if you’ll begin to stand on the promises of God; if you’ll begin to put a song in your heart, the giants will all of a sudden begin to look like midgets and the mountains will appear as a mole hill. God led Israel about. He led them through this wilderness, it was a discovery zone. You need to understand what happens in the discovery zone.
(Above post taken from my book, The Discovery Zone, chapter three)