As much as we are all different, we are also all the same. We all want to be loved. We all want to feel appreciated. We all want to have purpose. We all search for something to fulfill us. We all have something that causes temptation in our lives. If we are not careful, we will slip up and fall into bondage. We are not perfect people.
Titus 3:3a (NLT) Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the process we all must go through – the journey we all have to take. Everything in the Bible is relatable, types and shadows. And lately I cannot get away from how much our journey is similar to that of the Children of Israel.
Exodus 13:17-18 (NLT) 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.”  So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. The Israelites may have appeared ready for battle on the outside, but God knew their hearts. He knew that they still had much preparation ahead of them before they would be ready to actually want to fight for their freedom. Their wills had been broken by the bondage they had lived in for so long. They had to get to a point where they wanted God and freedom bad enough to be willing to fight for it. They also had to learn to trust God and how to follow Him.
God knows that right out of the gate we are not ready for battle. He knows we don’t know how to leave our bondage. He must prepare us for the fight. It is in His mercy and grace that He leads us in a roundabout way. We have to learn how to trust His leading.
Exodus 13:21-22 (NLT) The LORD went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night.  And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.
And, just like the Israelites, God has told us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Reference Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5).
Exodus 14:10-15 (NLT) As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the LORD,  and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt?  Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!'”  But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.  The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!
It wasn’t that they didn’t want to be free, they just didn’t know how to be free. They got comfortable living in their bondage. They didn’t know what freedom felt like. We too get so used to functioning in our dysfunction – in our addiction. It becomes a way to cope. It is all that is familiar. And change is scary. Leaving the thing that is what you [think you] ‘survive’ with is difficult. The withdrawal process hurts. It may even feel like you are dying. A part of you is dying.
Romans 6:6 (NLT) We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.
This is part of the process. Part of the journey. The journey can look a little like this…
Egypt/Sin/Bondage → Deliverance → Wilderness/Dying to Self → Promise Land/Freedom/Life
Jesus tells us is John 5:24 (NLT), “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
Unfortunately, all too often we act like the Israelites and step out of Egypt only to find ourselves wanting to run right back to it. We feel as though it is the only place we will be able to survive. We don’t want the ‘help’ of anyone. We don’t want them to push us. We feel like we will just ‘die out there in the wilderness.’ Fear can make you hold onto some of the strangest things sometimes.
This reminds me of another event…
An account of a young man is recorded in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and in Luke 18. Essentially this man had many things in this world that he was holding onto. He came to Jesus and asked Him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life [Promise Land]. Jesus explained that the man would need to keep the commandments, which the man said that he did. But there was one more thing that Jesus told him that he needed to do. It was to give up the earthly treasures and follow Jesus. This was too hard for the young man, and he went away sad. It hurt too bad to give it up.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:39 (NLT), “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
Just because you came out of Egypt, doesn’t mean that you have given up Egypt. Do you really want to be free? You have to take the journey through the wilderness.
Even Jesus spent time in the wilderness (Reference Matthew 4:1-11). He understands our weaknesses. He faced the same testing, but He overcame. He did not sin. So when we come to Him, He will offer mercy and grace.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT) This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
What happens throughout the wilderness journey:
- God guides. We learn how to follow.
- God provides. We learn how to trust.
- We are tested and tempted, but we are given ways of escape and weapons to fight with.
- There is a “dying process;” we must die to self.
- We pass from death to life.
I believe that David was describing the journey through the wilderness in the 23rd Psalm. Look back and compare it to the Israelites’ journey.
Psalm 23:1-6 (NLT) The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
© Vision61 Ministries
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