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 children of Israel have begun their journey out of the land of Egypt. The first thing we learn is that God did not take them through the way of the land of the Philistines. Moses tells us that even though it was near, and probably the shortest way to their destination, it would have lead to immediate war.
The Lord’s commentary is very telling
“Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”
The way of the land of the Philistines lead directly to the very people who hated Israel and would lead to certain battle and possibly ruin but it also meant war with Egypt.
Archaeologists have noted that this very same road was where Egypt had established a row of fortresses that were meant to keep enemies out of the land. It could also be used to keep slaves in.
God did not want the people of Israel to become afraid and lose the excitement in their new walk with Him.
His plan is the same for us today.
He will not change the past, but He will place His Hands on us to change our future. He will also not force us to do anything even though He is leading us.
He did not want them to lose faith so quickly in the beginning of their walk. He does the same for us when we begin our walk with Him.
He wanted to lead them out of Egypt and at the same time He wanted to take Egypt out of them.
He wants to lead us out of Egypt (the world) and take the world out of us.
He had intended for them to wander through the wilderness for a year, but they ended up there for 40 years and they still held much of Egypt in their hearts.
We can also end up in the wilderness longer than we should because we won’t let go of the world or learn from our mistakes, believe me I know.
Yet God, in His love for them and for you and me, was still with them in the pillar of cloud and fire.
The cloud kept them cool by day and sheltered and gave them light to see at night. When the cloud moved, they moved. When it stopped, they stopped.
Our walk with the Lord needs to be the same.
Jesus tells us:
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
This means a daily walk with Him; moving when He says move, and stop when He tells us to.
Not doing our own thing but His.