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Daily Devotional

The Way of the Wilderness

God's ways challenge my trust.

"Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, 'Lest perhaps the people will 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" (Exodus 13:17-18, emphasis added).

The Lord delivers Israel from the cruel grasp of their Egyptian bondage and promises to deliver them to the land promised to their fathers. But the route that He chooses for Israel to take will require additional time and cover more territory. This scene offers a number of truths about God and His ways:

  • People freed from bondage need God's continued guidance.

  • God rarely steers His people down the easier path.

  • God always leads man with man's good in mind.

  • God is less concerned about the expediency of the journey than He is the faith development of those on the journey.

  • Impossible situations that require God's intervention pepper the path of those whom He leads (the Red Sea, the wilderness, the inhabitants of Canaan, etc.)

Two passages come to mind that reveal the importance of understanding God's ways:

"For forty years  I was grieved with that generation, and said, 'It is a people who go astray in their hearts and they do not know My ways'" (Psalm 95:10, emphasis added).

"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4, emphasis added).

God leads people today no differently than He led people in the past (God's ways are predictably unpredictable). Therefore, we may trust Him today as we navigate the way of the wilderness. The way that He leads requires my complete trust.

Songs Stick

People are hardwired to remember songs and to respond to music. Both good and bad ideologies, communicated through a catchy tune, stick to the heart, so it isn’t any wonder that Moses composes a song to capture God’s deliverance of Israel out of Egypt and to highlight God’s commitment to Israel as a community. Celebrating their shared history through music will deepen their communal bond and remind Israel of who God is for them.  

Israel will need the theology taught in this song to carry them through through the trying days of wilderness wandering that lie before them:

The LORD is my strength and my song.

And He has become my salvation;

He is my God, and I will praise Him; 

My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. 

The LORD is a man of war;

The LORD is His name. (Ex. 15:2-3)

Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?

Who is like You, glorious in holiness, 

Fearful in praises, doing wonders? (15:11)

The same God who caused the Egyptians to fear will cause the Canaanites to fear, “The people will hear and be afraid; sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling will take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away” (15:14-15).

The same God who delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage will deliver Canaan into their hands, “You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established” (15:17). 

Sadly, Israel allows circumstances to drown out the songs designed to escort theology into their hearts and minds, and they complain against the LORD a few days later (Ex. 16:2-3). 

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Exodus 13:1-15:27):

  • Why does the firstborn belong to the LORD? (What caused the death of the firstborn in Egyptian households, and what purchased the firstborn in Israelite homes?)
  • Why does the LORD take Israel through a longer and indirect route out of Egypt? What does this reveal about human nature?
  • What does Israel learn about God’s delivering them through the Red Sea?
Posted by Blog Archive at 01:00
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