When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Exodus 13:17, NLT).
God considers our strengths and weaknesses when he maps our journey with him to eternity. There will be hurdles on the way, but he will not let them happen in random, he carefully plans it considering our spiritual stamina at every stage of our Christian growth.
The shortest route to Canaan is through the ancient trade route called Via Mari (Way of the Sea) starting from Egypt through the coastal plain along the Mediterranean Sea to the North of the Levant. It runs through the land mass called Negeb between Canaan and Egypt. Abraham passed through this area when he visited the northern part of Egypt. Jacob and his family also went down through this way. This is the route that buses and cars traveling from Cairo to Beersheba now take.
However, the southern part of this coastal route is now populated by Philistines who migrated from the Aegean Islands to the Western shore of Canaan. The political federation of five philistine cities are a formidable challenge in that area.
The Israelites are now on their way to the promised land. They are unarmed, unskilled anything other than brick making. The Philistines with their advanced weaponry will engage them in a battle.
The Lord who rescued them from Egypt with his might will help them to win the war. Since the Lord knows they are feeble, he did not want the first event in their journey to be a war which may dishearten them. Moreover, he wanted to show his power over the Red Sea, the mighty Egyptian army that he would drown, and so on.
They had to take the long route crossing Red Sea, through the Sinai desert. To make matters worse, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years as the result of their rebellion.
The Lord planned everything in such a way that though the route was meandering, he avoided things that may frighten them. When God directs us through detours in life, it is always for our good. As the psalmist says, “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Psalms 103:13—14, NLT).
But on the long route God has ordered miracles to meet us.
Prayer: Help me God, that when things does not happen the way I expect to be reminded that you have chosen what I can stand.