Trusting God in crazy ways

The Exodus passage for today (Exodus 13:17-14:4) is so filled with God’s intervention that I dare not comment on it. But perhaps we need also to reflect on the lord’s continuous intervention in our lives. Before you read on, stop a moment and think: “where have you seen God acting in your journey to direct, or redirect your path?”

Now lets go on … The text tells us that ‘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.‘ Sounds pretty much like the Lord, doesn’t it? He takes then the long way round so that they can avoid any adversaries. Otherwise they might just decide to go backwards instead of forward. Has that happened to you? Perhaps you never even noticed … God took you on a journey and you never even saw the problems because He never wanted you to see them.

The next verse is interesting. God didn’t want them to face war (adversaries) despite the fact that were were ready for it (armed for battle) ‘The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”’ So perhaps their readiness for battle had to do with something else – perhaps it was Joseph’s bones, perhaps it was some comfort to hold on to the prophecy of hope. Joseph had ended up in Egypt because of conflict with his brothers – but even that was part of God’s plan. Famine was coming, God was making plans to save His people. But it took 400 years for the aid which Joseph had prophesied to eventuate. Enslavement, bondage, oppression were to come first. But Joseph had been part of God’s plan of salvation from famine and he had spoken of yet another salvation (God will surely come to your aid) and they were to carry his bones to freedom. They were armed for battle – no-one was going to stop this liberation march.

And God was with them … ‘After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.’ A pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night – this was no sneaking out of Egypt! All the glory of God with with them – not only could they see God guiding them, but so could everyone else!!! Even Pharoah.

And God wanted the oppressor to see them! He even took them backwards so that Pharoah would have no doubt about where they were – in the day he could look out across the desert and he would see the cloud. And even in the dark, God brightened up the landscape so that Pharoah could see exactly where they were. ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”’  God was proving a point in this story – He was showing both Pharoah and the Israelites who was really in charge of this mission. It might seem like confusion but this was for the glory of God and no-one else. We can take heart from this. Whenever we have set ourselves under the guidance of God, we can trust His direction. It might not always be as we expected but it will always be right – the journey might be longer than we would have preferred and even more public than we would have liked, but when God’s hand is in it, it is good!

So the Israelites did this. Will you also trust the Lord like this?

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