By Toni Ford
Currently, several of my friends are walking through challenging times while caring for their aging parents, in a tight space financially or dealing with cancer in their body or in the body of a loved one. My heart breaks as I watch them having to walk through these hard times, and although I wish I could do more to take away their pain, I am reminded that the greatest way I can support my friends is in prayer and God’s Word.
While reading in the Book of Exodus last week, God reminded me that even when things looked impossible for the Israelites, He provided a way of escape. God’s ways might not look like my ways, but I have learned that God moves with intentionality because He sees beyond what we see and has a purpose and plan that is far greater than our own. God did rescue and deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, but it was a journey, and so it is with each of us when we are walking through difficult times. The instructions may change, and each day may look a little different, but we can always trust that God is intentional in All His ways! Our responsibility is to trust and obey Him while keeping our eyes on Him every step of the way!
In Exodus 13 and 14 we read about some of the directions God gave the Israelites when leaving Egypt.
Through the desert rather than the highway. Exodus 13:17-18 says, “After Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not guide them to the highway that goes through the land of the Philistines, because it was close by – God thought that the people, upon seeing war, might change their minds and return to Egypt. Rather God led the people by a roundabout route, through the desert by the Sea of Suf.”
Sometimes what seems to be the shortest route is not always the best route. God knew this was the case for the Israelites, so He took them through the desert rather than on the highway. He knew they would get discouraged and fearful with what they saw and would want to turn back immediately. God needed to teach them to trust Him in all situations and sometimes that means a different route. It might seem longer, but in the end, it leads to greater freedom and intimacy with God.
Turn around. “Exodus 14:1-2 says, “Adonai said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel to turn around and set up camp in front of Pi-Hachirot, between Migdol and the sea. You are to camp by the sea, opposite Baal-zephon.”
Keep in mind that there were 2.5 to 3 million Israelites that had left Egypt and were traveling together. Can you imagine moving all those people to a location only to be told by God to turn around and go back and camp at a place where you had just come from? I am pretty sure if I had been Moses I would have quit at that point. But Moses trusted that God had a greater plan, so he obeyed and had the people turn around. God actually did have a greater plan. You see, Baal-zephon was an Egyptian god believed to control the water. The other 10 plagues had taken place in Egypt, but Baal-zephon’s dominion was not in Egypt but rather the desert. God specifically told Israel to encamp “opposite [Baal-zephon] by the sea.” When Pharaoh heard that Israel was stopped at Baal-zephon, he would conclude that Baal-zephon had trapped them. Thus, the stage was set for this final god of Egypt to prove itself greater than all gods. But when the sea was split it became the greatest miracle – the cause of the great song of praise that Israel sings to God – because through it Egypt and Israel knew finally, and without a shadow of a doubt, “that I am God,” and there is no god greater than the One True God!
Go, lift, reach, and divide. Exodus 14: 15-16 says, “Adonai asked Moses, ‘Why are you crying to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward! Lift your staff, reach out with your hand over the sea, and divide it in two. The people of Israel will advance into the sea on dry ground.”
Both the children of Israel and Moses had to take a step of action before they could be saved from the Egyptians. How many times have you heard others complain and gripe about their situations, but they don’t want to do anything to make things better? They just remain where they are. God told Moses to tell the people to “go forward.” Yes, the sea was there in front of them but God was calling the people and Moses to take action. Once they moved, God would move in even greater ways. That He did! He parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on dry land!
Exodus 14 ends with these two verses – “On that day, Adonai saved Israel from the Egyptians, Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore. When Israel saw the mighty deed that Adonai had performed against the Egyptians, the people feared Adonai and they believed in Adonai and in his servant Moses.” God knew exactly what the Israelites needed. They needed to see so that they would know and believe that He alone was God! God had a plan, so even when His ways do not make sense, we can trust that His ways are far better than our ways!
If you would like continued prayer, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!