The Long Way Around

The Long Way Around

Pastor Don Carpenter

Bible Reading Challenge 2021 / Exodus 13:17–18

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once commented that race horses must be incredibly confused: the jockeys whip and kick them, obviously in a hurry, but they take the longest possible route, all the way around the track, to reach the finish line! In our lives, we face many detours that may seem pointless, but God always has a wonderful purpose. 

Sometimes as we follow the loving leading of Jesus, our Great Shepherd, it seems like He is taking us in the wrong direction. We would think that the most direct route is the most logical, yet God seems to take us through detours, potholes, and winding dirt roads on our pathway to Christlikeness.  

In our 2021 Bible Reading challenge this week I found a couple of verses tucked in the narrative before the Israelites even escape slavery. These verses give great insight as to how much God knows his children. God knows His people like a Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows what we are ready for and what we are not.  If need be, He is willing and able to make sure we take the long way around.

Exodus 13:17–18 KJV

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: 

But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

God Leads With Love And Precision.

Psalm 107:6–7 KJV

Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, And he delivered them out of their distresses. 

And he led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city of habitation.

Psalm 23:3 KJV

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 25:4–5 KJV

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: For thou art the God of my salvation; On thee do I wait all the day.

God Knows What We Are Ready For.

Exodus 13:18 KJV

But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

 • This is not a leading away from trials

 • It is a leading to the trials we need right now at this level of our maturity.

 • The Israelites needed to see God work

Exodus 14:11–18 KJV

And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 

Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 

The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 

But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 

And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

God Knows What We Are Not Ready For

Exodus 13:17 KJV

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:

 • God knew how they would react to the spy’s report, so He knew they were not ready for war… YET

Numbers 14:1–4 KJV

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 

And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 

And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? 

And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

The road through the Philistine country is a reference to the major route that ran through the Fertile Crescent from Egypt to Babylonia and is known as the Great Trunk road. It went along the coast of the Mediterranean, which took it through Philistine territory in southern Palestine before moving inland through the valley of Jezreel just south of the Carmel range. Along the north of the Sinai peninsula the Egyptians referred to it as the Way of Horus, and it was heavily defended since it was the route used by armies as well as trade caravans.1 

1 Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Ex 13:17. 

God Lovingly Prepares Us For What We Are Not Yet Ready For.

Exodus 13:18 KJV

But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

Learn About God’s Deliverance

Psalm 107:6–7 KJV

Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, And he delivered them out of their distresses. 

And he led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city of habitation.

Leviticus 11:45 KJV

For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Learn About God’s Laws

Nehemiah 9:13–14 KJV

Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: 

And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:

Learn About God’s Justice

Exodus 20:5–6 KJV

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Learn About God’s Mercy

John 3:14 KJV

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Learn About God’s Provision

Nehemiah 9:15 KJV

And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.

Learn About God’s Enablement so they could face War.

Joshua 24:17–18 KJV

For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 

And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.

Babbie Mason wrote these words, “God is too wise to be mistaken. God is too good to be unkind. When you don’t understand and can’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, TRUST HIS HEART.” 

So fret not, Brothers and Sisters when the way seems long and convoluted. Keep following the Shepherd. He knows best, even if He takes us the Long Way Around.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 8:34 PM January 26, 2021.

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