The road seems long and hard sometimes, doesn’t it? And we often don’t understand why. So we grumble and complain. (Come on, please tell me I’m not the only one!) We seem to forget that we’re on a journey. And we’re supposed to make progress.
So just as with Israelites in the desert, God takes us down the long road. He had to take them down that longer, harder road because they would have battles to fight in the Promised Land. And they weren’t ready for them.
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt,’ (Exodus 13:17).
In fact, it seems they couldn’t win the battle of not arguing over tent plots, let alone battles with mighty foes!
As they traveled, absurd as it seems, Moses had to hold legal sessions for them. What kind of cases could they have had? Coming out of slavery, they owned little more than their farm animals. And although the Lord enabled them to take the Egypt’s gold and treasures with them, such things are of little use in the wilderness.
They didn’t have much else, because they had to cart everything along, day after day. (What a great aide to decluttering!) They had no land of their own. Just a spot to pitch their tent. A few articles to pile on their donkey or oxen, or lug over their shoulder.
Yet they had all they needed. Food, water, and clothes. A cloud to protect them from the scorching sun, and a pillar of fire to keep the freezing desert nights at bay. And all straight from God’s hand. No worries, and little to protect.
Yet they fought and argued!
The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening, (Exodus 18:13).
“He pitched his tent too close to mine. I can even hear him snoring!” Or, “I’m supposed to march in line after Caleb, but he took my place!” Or perhaps, “His goat ate my tent rope!”
What a sad commentary on human nature. Though all came so clearly from God, they scrapped over it. Bickering among themselves, trying to defend their rights.
No wonder God took them along the long, hard road. He wanted them to become a people who would show what it means to walk with God.
And instead, they argued over cooking pots and tent ropes. And don’t we often do just like them? Even though we have all we need, and God has promised us that we always will?
The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.” —Exodus 13:17
Lord, we want to become an example of what it means to walk with you. But we can’t do it without you helping us to change. So we’re asking you today to help us think like you. Please plant your heart of selfless love in us. So that others will see something different about us, and want what we’ve got.
Over to you:
Do you complain sometimes about the hard journey? Do you hold to your rights? Or is God helping you to become the one willing to share your cooking pots or give the best camping spot to another? And willing, even, to march last in line, and not at the head?
Everything we have comes from God’s hand. And when we become willing to give it back to him, or share it willingly and wholeheartedly with others, then we begin to really show what walking with God means.
What’s in your hands, and how do you use it?