Don’t Fear The Wilderness
Read: Exodus 13:17-18
“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt: but God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.”
As humans, when we see something difficult ahead, we run back to what we know.
What I find interesting, is, in God’s eyes, the resolution to this problem isn’t avoiding the confrontation, or, going the other direction. The resolution was preparation. And not just any preparation, but specifically time spent with God.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the story to get some context…
“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” – Exodus 3:1-2
Now, I’m sure you remember what happens next. So, let’s skip ahead a little…
“And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he [God] said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” – Exodus 3:11-12
We know that when the children of Israel left Egypt, they saw the Red Sea part, they were fed miraculously everyday and saw many more signs and wonders. Most importantly, they met with God on Mount Sinai, in the land of Midian, just like the text in Exodus chapter three says. There is one thing I want us to take away from this particular part of Israel’s story.
The only way to stay sustained in the trials ahead is to first spend time with God and know who He is.
Have you ever thought about why Israel complained so much? Every time we read about something good happening to them, right after, we hear them say things like, “If only we were back in Egypt…” or, “If only we had meat to eat,” and “Why have you brought us here to die?” I don’t know about you, but it’s really easy to be hard on the Israelite’s. We talk about how often they complained and point out how ungrateful they were. But have we considered that these people didn’t have the same type of experience with God as we have?
Let’s think about it this way…
These people were in bondage for 400 years.
Before Moses appeared, they had not seen the hand of God move on their behalf.
They didn’t have a complete Bible to read about all the mighty things God has done.
They had no experience walking in faith.
They had to be trailblazers, but the new life they had been given was a completely new concept to them.
The only life they knew was one of work, pain and suffering. To put it in modern terms, this would be like a brand new Christian becoming discouraged because he got saved and then something bad happened to him. Wouldn’t this person be tempted to say, “God, I’m trying to straighten my life out, why did you let this happen to me?” This is kind of what Israel did. In contrast, a seasoned Believer would know that though trying times still come, faith in God will help him through whatever is ahead, and he will be stronger in the end because of it. The difference is simply experience.
Israel had no experience.
Therefore, Israel needed time with God before they made their next move.
The lesson we learn from is this: Just like Israel couldn’t go from slaves to warriors overnight without getting to know the God who delivered them – we can go into battle and claim our Promise Land without spending time with the One who has delivered us. Without knowing the heart and ways of God, we can mess a lot of things up. (Just like Israel did.)
Today, if you find yourself in a wilderness. If you find yourself feeling down and out, go to God. Draw strength from His Word. Get to know His heart. You won’t be disappointed.
Don’t let the wilderness discourage you – learn from it. Grow in it. You may be tempted to complain, but God will not fail you. Just trust Him.