"When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” Exodus 13:17-18
When God led His people out of Egypt through His chosen leader, Moses, they entered into the wilderness for what should have been a two week journey to the Promised Land of Canaan.
The wilderness is a tough place to be. It may be better than Egypt but it’s not nearly as good as Canaan. We all tend to spend much more time in the wilderness than we should.
In the Exodus account, a projected two week trip became a 40 year trek. That’s what doubt and disobedience will do for you! Even though they were out of Egypt it’s clear Egypt wasn’t out of them. When they were in Egypt they were slaves to the Pharaoh but once they entered the wilderness they found themselves slaves to fear so they entered the wilderness “ready for battle”.
Little did they know that the battles they would fight would be waged in their hearts and in their minds.
When you have lived in bondage all your life, you have to learn how to be free. Some of the “freedom factors” that must be mastered while in the wilderness are:
· Right thinking
God called them out of Egypt because He wanted them to live in an intimate relationship with Him. He wanted to be their father and their friend. But slaves only know taskmasters. Slaves have to learn how to love and how to be loved.
Slaves don’t have choices or options. Their taskmasters tell them what to do, when to do it and when to stop doing it. But freedom offers options and choices and decisions but it is also accompanied by the responsibility of those choices because decisions have consequences. Former slaves have to learn to handle responsibility.
While in Egypt as slaves the Hebrews had well-defined roles. They served at the command of their masters. Their role was to please their master well enough to limit the scorn and abuse he would inflict upon them. God called His people out of slavery to become His sons and daughters and residents of Canaan. It was a vastly different role they had to learn.
Servants and slaves aren’t paid to think. Their thoughts and ideas don’t matter and no one asks them for an opinion. Years of being subjected to slavery caused them to think like slaves. The worst bondage of all is bondage of the mind. The dominant thought of a slave is “I can’t”. Freedom begins in the mind and free people have to learn to think right.
The wilderness is where slaves learn to be free. It is where they learn to develop a relationship with God, take on the responsibilities of obedience, the role of a God-follower and learn how to transform their thinking.
These are some of the wilderness battles they faced and Moses was afraid they’d return to Egypt.
I’m wondering this morning, does any of this sound familiar?