You remember the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, right?
Well. Do you?
As I was reading this morning, I realized that over the years and years of hearing and knowing this story, I had actually missed a HUGE point of this whole story: God led them purposefully on a specific path out of Egypt… and it wasn’t the easy road.
When the Israelites were released from Egypt, it says in Exodus 13:17 specifically that God did not lead them on the shorter road (to freedom!) that would have gone through Philistine country. Why? Because He said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
Imagine this: You’re finally set free from 400 YEARS of captivity, and God leads you the long way out. Why would He do this? He knows that there are giants who will confront you on that road, and that you will flee straight back into captivity in Egypt.
Listen—God knows your heart, your thoughts, your tendencies, and your fears. Perhaps the reason you are in a desert is because He knows that if you face an enemy, you will flee back into the captivity of your past, whatever that might be.
At this point in history, the Israelites did not know the warrior side of God. They had not gone to battle to defend themselves—they were a scrawny, underfed, overworked, overpopulated nation of post-slaves, and they had not known how to fight because they had only been enslaved for hundreds of years.
Even still, the next verse (13:18) says that the Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. They still were prepared to fight.
You see where I am going with this: Sometimes the longer road is the one that will develop your character and show you God’s capacity to fight for you. After He has provided the miracle, you will know and see His character, and you will be trained up in how to fight in His power. THIS is the passage in which this famous verse occurs, “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the dlieverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
God put them on a different path because He knew their hearts would be moved toward fear, not fighting, and they would flee back into the safety of their past captivity. Even though they were prepared to fight (dressed for battle), they were unprepared in their minds to win. You may deeply believe that the easy way out is best in this scenario or that, but ultimately He is leading you out of the easy route and into the route that will bring lasting fruit and true freedom. There is, however, one more aspect to understanding God's decision to re-route them, and His decision to re-route you.
God knew the enemy’s schemes. Paul tells us that even we are not unaware of the schemes of the enemy...yet we fall prey to the lies and discouragement that the enemy brings. Cast. that. OUT. It is NOT of Him and it is NOT for you. Move on, stand strong, and be equipped through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to extinguish the fiery darts (lies) of the enemy. God might have brought you away from the battle with the Philistines but the Egyptians are still approaching. But in this case, you simply have to stand your ground. Be still. He is fighting FOR you.
The past week I have had four different conversations with students, friends, and co-workers who have told me some of the lies that the enemy has been speaking to them… I got so. mad. That dumb enemy—the lies they were hearing were LITERALLY THE OPPOSITE of who these people are. One girl told me how she heard in her head that her legs were big and she looked at models who didn’t have any body fat and she said that her legs were big. People—I’m telling you—this girl is rail thin and eats normally. Isn’t that so disgusting that the enemy can whisper such destruction over someone?! Another person told me that he felt he wasn’t doing enough to serve, and he was growing embittered toward the role he had to play in the body of Christ. Friends—this guy serves and then serves and then serves with all his heart… How ugly is it that the enemy can speak to the very place you serve and tell you it’s not enough?! The Father is speaking exactly the opposite: “You are enough! The ways you love and serve Me honor Me and I love you!”
We must be aware of the enemy’s schemes, and we must stand our ground as the people of God. Even further, now that YOU have seen God at work in your own life, you are well-fed, well-established, and well-trained to fight the battles at-hand before you.
The bottom line of this story? It’s found in Ex 14:4: “But I will gain glory for myself through [the enemy! the captors!] Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.”
1. The Israelites already knew who was the LORD—they had seen and believed in His handiwork because He had just set them free from Egypt because of the plagues that finally softened (well—broke) Pharaoh’s heart.
2. So the LORD wanted to establish the fact that HE was the LORD, even in Egypt! Every single plague was a direct affront to a specific Egyptian god, and YHWH demonstrated His authority and power over all of them. Even the enemies will know that He is God, and they will be destroyed when He fights for you... and while you stand your ground.
God wants to establish the fact that HE is the LORD over everything else in your life—every road taken, every battle, every enemy possibility. The long way around is always purposeful and He is using this season to build you up and train you, so do not discount where He has placed you right now.
You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
My God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God, His way isperfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.
For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He enables me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You give me your shield of victory,
and Your right hands sustains me;
You stoop down to make me grate.
You broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn.