Taking the scenic route (06-03-23)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 111:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
Bible Reading: Exodus 13:17-18
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."
So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
Our son, Tom, lives in Cornwall. When we go to see him and his family it takes us about six hours with stops. In the days before motorways, so Helen tells me, my father-in-law would take about twelve hours to drive the family to Cornwall and would often end up taking 'The scenic route’ to avoid the bottlenecks in places like Launceston and Bodmin.
When Moses led the people out of Egypt, God told him to take the scenic route through the wilderness in order to avoid the bottleneck they would otherwise find on the more direct route through hostile Philistine country.
God took the Israelites on a detour because he knew they wouldn’t yet be able to fight a battle the Philistines and win. The Israelites had lived in Egypt for over 400 years and had been slaves to the Egyptians for much of that time. When they left Egypt they left with a slave mentality. In the wilderness God taught them how to become a nation, learning to trust the one true God, developing a unique style of worship and establishing a comprehensive legal and social structure.
When we put our faith in Jesus it is, in many ways, like moving to a new country with a whole new culture, language and way of life. Instead of being slaves to sin we become children of God, but the changes in behaviour, lifestyle and outlook don’t happen overnight; it takes a lifetime. The Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years before they entered the Promised Land.
In life, as well as on the roads, it can often feel that we have taken a detour to get to our desired destination. Maybe it has involved waiting to get married or to start a family, maybe it meant more training in order to get a new job, maybe it was waiting to move house. I wonder if you can think of a time in your life when it feels that you have taken the long way round, that you did a detour in order to get to where you wanted. How did that feel? What did you learn along the way?
God took the Israelites on a detour so that, in the face of battle with the Philistines, they didn’t decide to return to slavery. I wonder if there are times you have faced difficulties and wondered about giving up on God. Be assured, he is with you and he will only let you face battles that he knows you can overcome through faith in him.
Lord Jesus, you are The Way.
When the road that I am travelling seems to take a detour, help me to trust in your guidance and your leadership.
Blessed be your name