The Discipline of Detours
Text: Exodus 13:17-18
In the book of Exodus there are three chapters that tell us about wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel. From the experiences of the people of God in the Old Testament we are going to be learning lessons about the Lord’s leading in our lives.
God makes it clear in the New Testament that their experiences can be used as examples for us today; “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition…” (1 Cor. 10:11).
In Exodus 13:17-18 we read that God did not lead the children of Israel directly to the Promised Land (the place He had destined for them). Rather, He took them on a detour.
What are the lessons we can learn about God’s guidance from this passage?
God’s guidance is always possible.
See Exodus 15:13.God guides us on the basis of His mercy.
God’s guidance is sometimes perplexing. See Exodus 13:17.
Principle of Progress: What is easiest may not always be what is best.
There was a “nearer” way but not a better way.
God’s guidance is personal. See Psalm 32:8 and Psalm 73:24.
God’s guidance if progressive. See Psalm 37:24.
What may seem at times as a “backward” step may in fact be
God was protecting them from dangers. God led them through the “wilderness” based on His wisdom. God makes it clear the reasons He led them the long way around. What was God’s goal? He tells us the reason in Exodus 13 verse 17. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt”. The Israelites were not yet warriors at this time. They would have been in much danger. They traveled in circles because it was God’s providential plan for protection.
God was preparing them. God was getting them ready for WHERE He wanted them to be. God was getting them ready for WHAT He wanted them to do. This was developing them for the task ahead. He knew they needed much preparation for what they were going to face ahead. When God directs by the way of detours dependence on Him is pertinent. He knew the way through the wilderness.
Notice God’s provision in Exodus 13:21. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
Notice God’s presence in Exodus 13:22. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of the fire by night, from before the people:. God will not detour you then desert you!
God leads you through the “wilderness” and the detours because He is preparing something better for you, God uses “detours” as a way to help you find and fulfill your destiny!
God makes it clear in the New Testament that the Israelites experiences can be used as examples for us today; “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition…” (1 Cor. 10:11).
The Dilemma of Dead Ends
Exodus 14 and 15
Now the children of Israel met with “The Dilemma of Dead Ends.” They were surrounded by the mountains and theRed Sea was in front of them. Pharaoh’s army was coming up behind them. They were brought to a total dead end.
From their experience, we learn what to do when God leads us to a “dead end,” an impossible situation. (Remember, God was leading them.)
Four Ways Fear Affects Us: Exodus 14:11, “ They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?”
- Fear will make us skeptical causing us to doubt and ridicule.
- Fear will contribute to selfishness so we begin to focus only on ourselves.
- Fear will cause us to be stubborn which leaves us with an attitude because of the fear.
- Fear will cause us to be short-sighted so we will want to live in the past – “let’s go back to Egypt“was their attitude.
Renew Your Faith
Four Steps to Renew Your Faith: Exodus 14:13-15, “And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only R10to be silent.” The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward”.
- Recognize that God is in control. Look-up – “Stand still and see.
- Fear causes us to want to run, but faith stands and looks to God.
- When we look-up you will loosen
- When we look-up we will “launch-out and pray and wait for the timing of God.
God usually takes us through our problem, not around it.
Three options when we face a “dead-end”
3. Trust God
Where you turn in time of trouble indicates who and what you really trust! God led the Children of Israel to a “dead end” they were facing an impossible situation. Why?
There are at least two purposes:
1. Purpose – for God’s glory.
2. Purpose – for Israel’s good and growth.
Corrie Ten Boom said, “There is no panic in heaven, only plans!” Remember, Situations that are out of our control are firmly in God’s grasp!
The Disappointment of Dry Holes
Now we come to the “Disappointment of Dry Holes” – here God led them to Marah to prove or test the Children of Israel. You would think people would have been ecstatic over the Exodus from Egypt and the deliverance through the Red Sea, but they were not.
The Problem (v. 22-24) Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people R3grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”
What was the “real” problem? The problem was they did not get or find what they expected or wanted. They expected to find drinking water. They experienced disappointment. Disappointment is unfulfilled expectation
The problem was the people! Notice how they responded; they pouted and doubted. Disappointment always leads to doubt. When this happens, we feel deprived.
The Purpose (v.25), “ And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them”.
Remember, God led them this way. His purpose was to test them. They failed the test! He wanted to see if they were getting the message of the miracles. He had performed for the them.God could and would supernaturally provide, protect, and prosper them, no matter where they were or what they were facing.Deliverance from disappointment comes by learning to depend on God’s dependability. Another word for “dependability” is faithfulness. They weren’t depending on God. How do we know that? The answer is, instead of calling on God they criticized Moses however, Moses, who was depending on God, called out to Him and He responded.
God can change things from what they are to what He wants them to be and what they need to be.
The Provision v. 26-27) saying, If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” Then R10they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.
God had a plan to provide for His people. Every “dry hole”, every disappointment can be used of God to display His divinity. Disappointments are His “appointments.”God has a plan for our provision.
In verse 26, God makes a promise. Promise leads to provision.
Conclusion: Do not stop and murmur, but march on. Your God will never fail His children if they continue to be obedient.