When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ 18 So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea.The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

How do we reconcile the statement that the Israelites were battle-ready (18) with God’s words in 17b: “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt”? The answer seems to be that although the Israelites were armed, the Philstines had superior weaponry (not to mention plenty of experience in war).

God knows His people well. I believe there are times when He permits us to experience hard stuff because He knows we will grow through the ordeal. But perhaps, on other occasions, He is aware we will be likely to fail the test, so He doesn’t ‘enter us for the examination’ at that point.

These words seem relevant:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”  (1 Cor.10:13).

The people of Israel were not led by the shortest route, but as someone pointed out, the shortest route is not always the best.

‘If you permit the Lord to direct your steps (Prov.3:5-6), except to be led occasionally on paths that may seem unusually long and circuitous. Remind yourself that God knows what He’s doing. He isn’t in a hurry, and as long as you follow Him, you’re safe and in the place of blessing. He may close some doors and suddenly open others, and we must be alert.’ Warren W. Wiersbe: OT Commentary, p.166.

PRAYER: “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me…” (Psalm 25:4,5a).