“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 [i.e. “in orderly ranks”] out of the land of Egypt.”
Today’s verse passage recounts how, after a series of devastating supernatural sign miracles and judgments, the Pharaoh of Egypt finally let the Hebrews slaves free. Moses tells us that the LORD led His people away from the land of the Philistines even though that would have been a shorter route to their destination. The reason given is important to our understanding of God’s sovereignty and human freedom and responsibility. The text makes it clear that God is truly omniscient, knowing not only what a person will do, but what he would have done in any given set of circumstances (cf. 1 Samuel 23:7-14; Matthew 11:21-24; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8). Here God knew that Israel’s enemies would have come out against them and that Israel, being in no condition to engage them in battle, would have returned to Egypt. Of course there are many things God could have done. He could have supernaturally changed Israelite thinking and disposition. He also could have granted them a miraculous victory by intruding into the battle in a supernatural and irresistible way. However, Instead of manipulating His people like puppets or forcing victory on them, God sovereignly chose to leave His people with their own personal dispositions and sensitivities. By leading them away from unnecessary conflict, violence, and loss of life, His people were to learn by experience and at their own pace, to place their unreserved trust in God. He was showing them that He was their Good Shepherd Who was taking special care of them. We who have received Christ for salvation in this New Covenant dispensation rejoice in knowing the Lord in this way also (1 Peter 1:8; 5:7). All this aside, the avoidance of unnecessary conflict itself is more than instructive; it sets for us a moral imperative to follow. “If it be possible,” wrote the great apostle Paul, “as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). In this we follow the example set by our Lord Himself “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1Peter 2:23). Let us honor the Lord Who has shown His fallen image-bearers such favor. Let us praise the One Who is our peace with God. Let us do so with all that we are, with all that we think, and in all that we do today.
God bless you,