The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

The shortest way is not always the best way - Exodus 13:17-18 (PDF) PDF version

The shortest way is not always the best way - Exodus 13:17-18

We all know more or less the story of the Israelites. It took them 40 years to enter the promised land, in a trip that shouldn’t normally last more than a few weeks. As we may also know, almost all the delay was due to their own disobedience. When the time had finally arrived to enter the land, they were afraid to do so and stepped back. The result was that it took them 40 years more (!!) to go into the land and only 2 people from the initial generation succeeded. All the others died in the wilderness and it was their kids that entered in their place. We will not concentrate on this exercise of disobedience today. Anyway, it was NOT the initial plan of God to have them in the wilderness 40 years. However God did delayed a little bit the plan of entering the land. Not for years but it was indeed a little bit longer than the shortest way. We find the relative passage in Exodus 13:17-18. There we read:

Exodus 13:17-18
"Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of Philistines, ALTHOUGH THAT WAS NEAR; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt"

What impressed me in this passage is the fact that God didn’t lead the people through the shortest way but He preferred a path a little bit longer. We sail off sometimes to a trip that we expect to take time X. We expect that we will get a job at age X, we will get married at time XX, we will make the first kid at time XXX and we will live XXXX years. It may not be an illogical plan. We may have planned things as we see them around in our world. And the way we may have planned them it may be fine and it may work this way. But it doesn’t always. At least it didn’t in the case of the Israelites, in my case in certain things and it might be in your case too. Sometimes time is going by and by and our lives seem to drift away from our expectations. We wonder what are we doing in a wilderness that is looking like the "wilderness of the Red Sea". If few years ago you had told me that I would be in Germany, doing the job that I’m doing right now I would have told you "that’s impossible. It is completely out of my plans." I had planned my life probably in a similar way that you had planned yours. But it didn’t turned out like this. Not living the alternative (what I had planned), I don’t know whether it is better or worse. I don’t know and I may never know. You don’t know and you may never know - perhaps prior to see the One that sits on the throne - why things turned out the way they did. Why you are there still expecting something that you thought was the simplest thing of the world. Things may have happened that you had never imagined. You might had planned your life the way I had planned mine but…. You might had planned your life the way the Israelites had planned theirs but…. I have good news for you: GOD LEADS YOU. There is the case where the wilderness is because of disobedience. I don’t want to speak about it today. I hope you are not in this one. If you are, the answer is OBEDIENCE. "Draw nearer to God and He will draw nearer to you" (James 4:8). But this is not the purpose of this article. The purpose of this article is the unfulfilled expectation. The cases were it seems that God is late. "God" we say, "I expected from you more than what I ask or think. And yet the years go by and by and I never see my prayer answered." And God says through the mouth of the Lord with the parable of the widow (Luke 18:1-5): "Don’t give up praying son. I don’t give up on you." We say to God, "God, you have written about deferred hope… that makes the heart sick. And yet it seems like You Yourself act like you never wrote about it". And God says "be patient". What God tells you brother today is to be patient. Follow the lead of the Lord, trust in Him and He will bring it to pass. He will give you the desires of your heart. This may not be what your mind says. After years and years you may have given up on your dreams and godly desires. I would like to encourage you to stand UP. God does not give up on You. The God that you saw when you first believed is the same today too. God NEVER changes (James 1:17). Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The God of the terrible wonders before Pharaoh is the same God that is leading you in the wilderness too. Don’t give up, admitting a defeat that is NOT there! If God does not take you straight away to what He has promised for you is only because HE LOVES YOU. It is not time his main concern. His main concern is YOU! It was not His concern to have the Israelites in the promised land few weeks earlier. His main concern was THEM. If you look at the passage it is like God is skeptical. God is not a machine, a robot. He is Someone that THINKS. Thinks about you and your best. In this case, He was concerned about the Israelites that if they went through this shortest way they might see war and thus return back to Egypt!! God thinks of YOU my friend. The shortest way may have things that you may not be able to handle. Have you ever thought that if everything came as you had planned it, whether you wouldn’t have returned to the Egypt, to the world, again? You don’t know. I don’t know either for myself. But I do know something. That whatever I have, wherever I stand right now is the path that God has chosen for me to stand. And in this I have peace. For God is leading the way and He chooses only the best for me. And the best is to be near to Him, even if the way is a little bit longer. The purpose is NEVER to short the promises. The promises will come, for God has SPOKEN. But with no danger to be afraid and step back, or be tempted and do the same. The path of you life may not be exactly as you had planned it. But I can tell you. It is as GOD has planned it. It is as GOD has thought it for YOU. And being so, it is the BEST. Stand up, walk on the way, live for today, don’t care for tomorrow and God will lead your life, NOT to frustration but to what you may expect, no.. to more that what you think or expect. Don’t give up on whatever is godly. Don’t give up praying for this.

Anastasios Kioulachoglou