How God Guides
How God Guides (Exodus 13:17-22)
God guides. God's personal leadership belongs to biblical faith. It is the heritage of God's people. We can expect that God will give us personal leadership. Before the written Word of God came, God gave guidance through extraordinary means. Before the Holy Spirit internally indwelt every believer, God used various visible means of His guidance. We who have the written Word and the Spirit can learn principles of God's guidance from those who depended on other means.
God does give His people protective guidance which the world cannot understand.
God Protects Us from Enemies We Cannot See
God sometimes leads us the longer way. The obvious way to go to the promised land from Egypt was the way by the sea. Instead, God sent the people south when they needed to go northeast. God often sends His people the longer way. David went the longer way to the throne. Paul went the longer way to Rome. Why does God lead the longer way?
The longer way is sometimes the safer way. God knew that the Philistines lived on the short route to the promised land. God already knew that His people could not face what they did not even know was there. If they had faced the warlike Philistines, they would have turned back to Egypt (v. 17; cf. 14:10).
Why does God lead us through detours? He often does so because He knows what we are not ready to face. Even Jesus detoured away from the cross until His hour had come. If you seem to be going the long way, believe that God knows what you cannot face.
God Reminds Us of Faithfulness We Cannot Forget
God's faithfulness in the past gives us confidence for His leadership in the future. Centuries before, the Hebrew patriarch Joseph made his people promise to carry his bones with them to the promised land (Gen. 50:25-26). When they carried his bones out in the exodus, they acknowledged God's faithful accomplishment of His promises. Evidently they carried out the bones of all the rest of the patriarchs as well (Acts 7:16). Every tribe had a personal reminder of God's faithful guidance in the past.
We need to make memories of God's guidance. Your future hope for God's guidance rests on your past experience of God's faithfulness. The God who was our help in ages past is our hope for years to come.
God Leads Us with a Guidance We Cannot Explain
God guides in a timely way. God gave His guidance at just the moment needed. "Etham" was on the edge of the desert. They could make it to Etham without supernatural guidance. God expects us to go where we can see without demanding supernatural events. But beyond Etham there was no road to see—the treacherous desert extended to the horizon. When they needed direct divine guidance, God provided the pillar of cloud and fire.
God guides us in a mystery. The cloud was dark on one side and bright on the other (Ex. 14:20). The Egyptians saw only darkness. Israel saw the light. Always God's people can detect His guidance. The world sees nothing where we see the finger of God. God's supernatural direction is for His spiritual people. The world sees a dark cloud.
God guides us from in front (13:22). The cloud of fire was usually in front of the people. God moves us toward His future. However, there are times when God does protect us from our past (14:19). He stands between us and that which is behind us. By His presence He surrounds.
God guides us now in His word. The cloud of light is now gone. We should not look for it again. Now God's Word is the lamp and the light (Ps. 119:105). He has lodged His guidance in His word through His Spirit, His word goes before us in the future and protects us from the past. Our God guides. The Lord Jesus is both the Author and Finisher of God's guidance (Heb. 12:2).