With Israel’s deliverance secured and their memorials in place, the journey continued.
“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea…” (Ex. 13:17-18a)
I’ve heard the walking distance from Egypt to Canaan could have taken only eleven days. If true, Israel might have been in their new home in less than two weeks. However, God knew war and giants awaited them and they were not ready. So God lead them the best way, the way He wanted them to go.
With four hundred years in slavery, Egyptian paganism and the myriads of false gods had infiltrated Israel’s thinking and compromised their knowledge of Almighty God. They had much to learn before they could fight. If war came too soon, Israel would have thought the cost of following the one true God was too high and returned to Egypt. Therefore, they needed time to come to know this omnipotent God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Seeing His mighty works and outstretched arm, their faith and confidence would grow. By God’s awesome power, His law, His provision and protection, Israel would understand Who He is and fully trust in Him.
Therefore, Jehovah, the Self-Existent One, led them the long way.
Is this not the way God works in our lives? He knows His plan. He knows what we can handle. With every trial, He teaches us, provides strength to bear it and a way of escape. God leads in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake or in other words, because of Who He is.
Maybe you feel God’s leading you the long way around and taking much too long to answer your prayers. He knows what’s up ahead and He doesn’t want you looking back, desiring your old way of life. God wants us yielded to Him looking forward to the new thing He is doing. In His time, He transforms us inwardly, increases our faith and our strength, and then He leads us into battle.