17When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.13:18a Hebrew sea of reeds. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.Exodus 13:17-18, NLT
A lot happens in these two and a half chapters that I was assigned. The Passover happens and the parting of the Red Sea is about to happen. I am not sure about you, but I often breeze right past things that should stop me in my tracks. The above certainly does.
Here, God leads His people the long way out of Egypt. Not the short way through Philistine territory because the Philistines were fierce and the Israelites were weary and defeated from so many years under enslavement and not ready for a fight with them. So, God, in His infinite wisdom takes the Israelites the longer, but “easier” way. If you recall my last post, I had given up my well paying job and didn’t know what to do next. I ended up working for a company I had worked for before and started something new for them until I ended up opening my own business in December 2016. It has been moderately successful so far after we almost ran out of money in 2017 (a story for another day). It has been tough the last several months, but is getting better.
I think that is why these verses stopped me. Was I not ready for a fight? Was I too downtrodden when I left my boss’s control in May of 2015? I feel a bit like the Israelites in that the route of the last 6 or 7 years has been, well, winding. I know everything happens for a reason. It is His plan, not mine, as much as I want to take control. The fact that these verses jumped out at me likely means that they apply to me. Right now. Maybe they apply to you. Is God taking you the long way out of or away from something? If so, He is protecting you, strengthening you, and guiding you. He knows the way and is not lost.
21The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. 22And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.Exodus 13:21-22 NLT
The first few times reading these chapters, I kept coming back to the pillars. Here, God has offered his protection – a cloud by day to hide the multitudes and protect them, and a fire at night for protection from the creatures of the night and whatever else may be lurking in the darkness. In a few commentaries I read, people have made comparisons of these pillars to the Holy Spirit. That is interesting as here was a visible sign of God’s holy presence protecting His people. He doesn’t offer visible signs of protection like this in today’s world (well, not like this anyway), but He does offer his protection and guidance day and night.
I know God has been doing this for me. He is led us to certain companies to do business with and away from others. He has led me to certain relationships with people and away from others. God leads the way as long as I let him. When I am going the “long way,” His guidance is crucial, or I will never get to where He intends me to go.
Dear Lord, let me accept that sometimes you take me the long way, and it is for my own protection. Maybe it is arduous and I don’t understand the direction, but your pillars of cloud and fire guide me daily if I just allow myself to see them. Thank you for your protection and your provision. Amen.