Friday, April 17, 2009

The Long Road

I was preparing my Sunday school lesson for this Sunday. It is on the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. This involves the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of pharaoh and all of the Egyptian warriors. I have heard this story over and over again and I wasn't expecting to learn anything new. However, I had been challenged by one of my youth to make the Old Testament exciting. I love a challenge so I went into it with the mindset that God was going to reveal something new. Boy, did He!!! In the first 4 verses, I read something that I read before but never quite got it. Here are the verses in the NIV version, word for word:
"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 armed for battle." Exodus 13:17-18
Notice what God said. He wasn't going to allow the Israelites to take the quickest way out of Egypt. Why would He do this? Was it to make the journey longer and more tedious? If you were to look at a map, you would see that God was going lead them into the desert instead of along the coast. A desert is a tough place to be walking. It is hot during the day and cold during the night and there is very little food or water. Surely, not enough for millions of people. But, before they ever got there, they had to cross a sea. They didn't carry boats or inflatable rafts with them so how were they supposed to face all of this. God gives the reason that if they went the shorter way, that the Jews would face warring nations on the way to the promised land and that if they went into battle that they would want to turn back to Egypt and slavery. So, as you know, God parts the sea and provides food and water for the people for 40 years. Obviously, what the Bible says is of the utmost importance, but we can learn from what it doesn't say. I think that God wanted them to take this longer journey so that He could get the glory in the trip. Any group of people can leave one place and go quickly to another without seeing the Hand of God in it. But, look at what the Israelites faced: a body of water, an imposing desert, starvation, dissension, and a horrible case of bad attitudes. These are all seeming insurmountable odds for the people. How did they do it? They didn't but God did! He parted the Red Sea and they walked on dry land. He guided them as fire and a cloud. He fed them with manna from Heaven in just the amount that they needed. He provided water from the dry, parched earth. Lastly, He provided encouragement through Moses and Aaron. Miracles a plenty!
So, what about our lives? Does God still do this today? You bet He does!!! Why was I allowed to do and endure some of the things that have been put into my life: teen pregnancy, abortion, abuse, rape, a difficult pregnancy, depression, despair, a case of the bad attitude? This long road, I chose and was allowed to choose, has and will reflect the glory back onto God. How far I have come and how far I have yet to go! People who knew me 15 or 20 years ago can attest to the difference. Instead of living a defeated life, I can live like the Israelites did, depending on God and expecting Him to do great things. What about you? Are you on a long road that you can't figure out the purpose? Live expectantly, knowing that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it! So, let's go up out of our captivity(Egypt) armed for battle!
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