I’m reading through Exodus this month, and although I’m pretty familiar with the stories, something stuck out this morning that I had not known before now.
I knew that God led the people of Israel through the wilderness rather than a more direct route out of Egypt. And I knew He took them that way so that His glory would be known through the parting of the Red Sea. But one word hit me like a rock this morning. Did you see it there in the picture above? No? look again.
And that one word changes everything.
Two little letters, “i” and “f”, when combined to form the word “if“, change everything. “If the people are faced with a battle…”
This is the God of miracles!
The God of Abraham. The God who raises the dead and commands every living thing. The God who delivered Jonah via a whale! The God who breathed the world into existence and numbered the stars! Here, He’s brought His people out of Egypt and is directing their path with a pillar of cloud and fire! He’s getting ready to part the Red Sea for crying out loud! And here He says, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” Really? I get that the Israelites were slaves for hundreds of years and not ready for battle, but you mean to tell me He can’t lead them through the wilderness while simultaneously clearing the wilderness of all potential enemies?
I don’t buy it.
There’s a reason for the “if”. I know He took them through the wilderness to bring them to the Red Sea and deliver them from Pharoah’s army by parting the waters…so that all the world would know He is God. Yeah, He could’ve taken them a more direct route and done things differently. But He didn’t so that His name would be glorified through the various miracles He would perform. I get all that. But the if…
I’m stuck on it.
That’s the thing with God. He doesn’t want us to be stuck on the things we can’t understand. There are just some things we’ll never know. Reasons for Him leading us down a particular path that we’ll never understand on this side of eternity, if ever at all. Reasons unknown to us for putting a road block in our path that force us to change paths.
Do you dwell on the what if’s?
What if I’d gotten that job? What if my wife hadn’t left me? What if I’d been a more involved father when they were young? What if I’d turned left instead of right? What if…if only. Yeah, I struggle with that sometimes too. We’re human after all.
What if instead we recognize what we should be recognizing. That God is God, and we are not. Because knowing the reason for the “if” changes everything, and the knowledge that comes with that…I could not handle.