In the story of the Exodus, the land of Egypt is a representation of the evil sinful and ungodly way of life, and when God delivered His people, the Israelites, it is recorded that “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.” <Ex.13:17 (NIV)>, so He led them by the desert road by way of the Sinai Peninsular to their promised land of Canaan.
When we are saved from a life of sin and its oppression, God does not immediately allow us to experience the difficulties of serving Him, but He leads us in the quietness of the desert-way so that we can be instructed by His Holy Spirit in living the life of a Christian. The road through the Philistine country would be a picture of travelling through the habitation of all of Satan’s demons, as this route to Canaan was the main highway that would have been guarded by Egyptian fortresses. The desert road however, would be the way of all pilgrims then and now, for it represents the journey that besets us all as God’s children; it is the way of fear, uncertainty, grief, anger, doubt, discouragement, and temptation (A Way Through The Wilderness, by Jamie Buckingham); Moses and the Israelites faced these difficulties, and you and I face them constantly as we journey on with God through our wilderness life. Our wilderness life is God’s tutoring where we learn to deal with all the above through the teaching of The Holy Spirit <see Jn.14:26; 16:13-14>.
Here we see the promise to every believer in Christ that God will never leave or forsake us as we seek to follow Him, He will constantly lead us just as he led the Israelites; “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” <Ex.13:21-22 (NIV); Deut.31:6; Heb.13:5b>. There will be frightening periods in our life where we are faced with difficulties so great that we are overcome by fear, but God encourages us <Ex.14:10,13-14> and protects us from Satan’s attacks <Ex.14:19-22>, and provides us with an eternal protection from the attacks of Satan <Ex.14:26-31>. How does all of this translate to our Christian lives? Paul, the apostle, in writing to Christians addressed this by teaching us, that there is no condemnation (judgment) to those that follow Christ <Rom.8:1-4>, and that we will never be separated from Christ <Rom.8:31-39>. Just as God led His people through their wilderness journey, He leads us today through our wilderness journey. For forty years of their life God led the Israelites through the desert, through many differing circumstances, teaching them His way; and for us He will do the same until we reach our promised land – heaven, for this is His promise <Jn.14:2-3>.
God made the freedom of the Israelites complete in all His dealings with them in their wilderness journey, they lacked nothing that was needed <Deut.2:7>, God had delivered them from their life of slavery; and God has delivered us as Christians from our life of slavery to sin and will one day allow us to enter His eternal rest <Gal.5:1; Heb.4:1-3>. How is your wilderness journey going? Another lesson to be learned from the Exodus is that of separation, the Israelites were separated from their captors by the crossing of the Red Sea, and this is God’s design in Salvation. God saved the Israelites from their slavery and immediately separated them from the influence of Egypt by leading them through the Red Sea into the desert of Sinai; and in a similar manner God saves the sinner from the slavery of sin and its penalty through His death, burial and resurrection <Col.2:13-15; Rom.5:8-9; 2 Cor.5:17-19>, and separates (sanctifies) the individual unto Himself through His grace <2 Thess.2:13; 1 Pet.1:2>, and the work of The Holy Spirit <Gal.1:3-4>, and encourages us to live in His freedom a life of separation from the ungodly world systems <Col.2:6-8>. There was one problem for the Israelites that caused them to doubt and to disobey God’s commands throughout their wilderness journey, there were Egyptians that joined them in their Exodus. Later on they even intermarried <Ex.12:38; 9:20; Num.24:10>; they caused doubt and fear and rebellion among God’s people; and this is also a problem for Christians today. We have been warned by God’s Word that we should separate ourselves from this ungodly world and not to accept or be influenced by the social systems that encircle us, even to the point of marriage; so often we see Christian young people marrying unbelievers, and Christians involving themselves in other ways with unbelievers leading to their demise and a shattered testimony <see 1 Cor.10:1-6; 2 Cor.6:16-7:1>. Let us all as Christians take our journey through the cross of Christ (our Red Sea) and follow Him in separation and obedience <Matt.16:24-26>. “As the Red Sea rolled between the children of Israel and Egypt, so stands the Cross between the believer and the world” (From Egypt to Canaan by John Ritchie).