Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV)
17 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.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
How wonderful it is when deliverance comes and freedom is felt. There is release from bondage and the experience of liberty’s flight. For those who have been bound, though, there is also a security in that bondage that will raise its beckoning voice as soon there is an encounter with adversity. As bad as the bondage was, there will be a path beaten back to it as soon as there is a threat of war.
This was completely understood and prepared for as the children of Israel departed from Egypt. Carefully leading by pillar of fire at night and cloud by day, God led them around any possible encounters that would have turned them back right away. They had to get far enough from Egypt before a battle in order to insure their continued progress away from their chains. Even the Red Sea might have been a deal breaker had it not been for the pursuing army and the amazing miracle of the sea’s dividing. Then, once on the other side, especially after such an overwhelming victory, their exodus was sealed - at least until…
For those who will truly experience life on the outside, away from the bars and chains, His Spirit provides direction far enough away so that returning becomes less and less of a consideration. During this time of departure, though, an impression of His greatness demonstrated through His faithfulness in mercy, healing, provision and comfort will need to be appreciated and drawn to. Because, there will be a battle, there will be a sea to cross and there will be giants and walls to overcome. Only a fixation on the Promise and the One who made it will keep the head from a looking back that can only lead to wilderness death.