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Sometimes our path leads to a place not evident to us until God changes events in a way we never imagined.
This passage has been especially meaningful to me on several occasions when I thought there was only choice A or B, neither of which was good, but God provided a choice C that was better than either A or B. You can read about one of these situations here: God's Unseen Footprints.
Regarding Exodus 13:17-14:31:
- Why do you think God didn't clearly tell them what He was going to do?
Perhaps it would make us turn back (as in this passage), or perhaps it would make us proud, careless, less dependent on God, etc.
When God brought them to this location, they could easily have gone a short distance into the desert, making it impossible for the Egyptian chariots to navigate in the sand. But God turned them so they remained within Egypt's borders. This was unexpected and seemed foolish in the eyes of the people, but God has important reasons for doing this to prove His ability to the Israelites and build their trust and faith.
- Why do you think some of the people were confused and fearful?
In typical fashion, the Israelites looked at their journey with human eyes. Remember that at this point they had already experienced God's miraculous power, provision and purpose in the 10 supernatural plagues in Egypt that freed them from cruel slavery.
The Exodus is a story of God repeatedly showing the people that they could trust Him, that He had their best interests at heart, that they were precious to Him. But the majority always doubted, complained, and insulted God. That is why one generation ended up losing the Promised Land.
We can look at their stupidity and see how ridiculous it is, but we often behave in the same way in our circumstances.
This is a great memory verse, and it applies to many situations in our lives today as well: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today... The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Copyright, Gail Burton Purath, 2013, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted