Exodus 13:17-22

Crossing the Sea

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 ready for battle.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites 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."[b]

20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 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. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.


A little over a century ago, it took Hudson Taylor four months to travel from England to China and the same to send mail back to England. Now I can text or FaceTime my friends on the other side of the world and instantly know how they're doing.

I pay for Amazon Prime for next day/same day delivery - and it's worth it.
I consider a 4 minute wait at a tube station to be frustratingly long.
I am so used to listening to podcasts on 1.5x speed that I now consider most conversations I'm in as taking too long. Why are they speaking so slowly?!

We live in a culture that wants things fast.

And naturally, we expect God to work in the same way. Life is short, so I want God to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. It's unimaginable that he would be slow or inefficient in accomplishing his purpose!

In this case, God takes the people on the scenic route to freedom. It would have been quicker to go through the Philistine country, but God knew his people. As we'll see, it actually took the people 40 years of wandering in the desert before entering the promised land. That journey, had they taken the most direct route, would have taken them just 11 days...

Tom Wright who is a leading theologian suggests that two forms of liberation take place for the nation of Israel.

The journey out of Egypt and the journey of getting Egypt out of Israel.

In other words out of slavery and out of the mindset of slavery.

One journey was relatively quick and involved incredible acts of power. The other was mundane and involved faithful persistence where obedience was the miracle.

I know how painful the waiting can be. I understand why people give up.

The lesson the people are learning in this second journey, is that if they are to ever reach the promised land - they must learn to trust God.

They followed the pillar of cloud by day, and fire by night. A sign of God's presence with them.

Hold close to his presence.

The writer of Hebrews said this:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1-3 - The Message)

Jesus is in the promised land and we can spend time with him now. Stay in the race.

If you have given up praying about something, or you've stopped coming up for ministry on Sundays feeling helpless, or that things are not progressing as fast as you hoped. I know how painful that is, but I want to encourage you to come back again.

No Comments