Thursday, July 10

The Fork in the Road

Living By Faith

Several weeks ago, we observed the Passover Feast found in Exodus 12 and pointed out ten observations that picture our salvation experience. The tenth and final plague, which occurred in connection with the feast, resulted in Israel’s deliverance. The slaves were free at last! Prior to our new birth experience we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). We were enslaved by this world system. But the day of our salvation marks the day of our emancipation from slavery (Romans 6:18). Christ, the Passover Lamb, died to save and set us free from the power of sin.

Scripture: Exodus 12:51

And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

The very same day of the paschal (Passover) service, God brought Israel out of the land of the Pharaohs, and so He delivers us. In Christ, we are no longer bound to keep up with the Joneses. Life is not just a big rat race or mid-life crisis waiting to happen. Instead, we are on a journey that should take us to the promised land—that is, if we do not repeat the catastrophe of Israel.

Contrary to many hymn-writers, Beulah land is not heaven, but spiritual maturity. John Bunyan recognized this in his famous book, Pilgrim’s Progress. He said that it is the place of peace and rest near the end of life’s journey. It need not take that long though. In just two years, Israel was at the threshold of the promised land. We should be too. Victorious and spiritual living is for here and now. But to achieve the goal, we must set out in the right direction.

Scripture: Exodus 13:17-18

17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

Three Truths:

I) God Led Them:

First, we must understand that God led them. This is one of the most important facts in our study. God led Israel. Twice our text says as much. In verse 17, it says that He did not lead them one way. Verse 18 says that He instead led them another.

The songwriter knew exactly what he was saying when he penned, “some through the waters, some through the flood, some through the fire, but all through the blood; God leads His dear children along.” I am not a deist. I do not believe that the Bible is merely a moral rulebook, nor that God set the world in motion and left it to run by itself.

Rather, I am a Christian. I believe that God is real and that he takes an active, personal interest in the affairs of men (Hebrews 11:6). I believe that He wants to lead, guide, and direct us (Psalm 32:8). Christ shed His precious blood (I Peter 1:17-18) to free us from bondage to this world, but we must follow His leading. He wants to lead us out, but many Christians want to stay put. We love the things of this world, but God says, “Set your affection on things above (Colossians 3:2).”
Colossians 3 is a very interesting chapter. It begins and ends with eternity. In between, it tells us to mortify our members upon earth (vs.5), and do everything as to the Lord (vs.17 and 23), including being in submission to those in authority over us (vs.18-22). That is not easy to do. The only thing that allows us to do that is a strong belief in the blessed hope of Christ’s return.

Scripture: Colossians 3:24

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

We serve the Lord Christ, and our inheritance is in eternity. We must put off the old man and put on the new. We must lay aside the world’s way of thinking and acting, because verse 25 warns, “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

To be able to accomplish this living for the hereafter, we must live by faith. The Bible says so four times (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38). To sacrifice this world, we must trust the promises of God’s Word. We must unequivocally believe in the goodness of God. We must rest in the love that He demonstrated on the cross. Hebrews records that Moses did so.

Scripture: Hebrews 11:24-26

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

He placed his life by faith in God’s hand, and God led him. If we do the same, He will lead us, too.

II) The Fork in the Road:

Immediately upon leaving Egypt, Israel encountered a fork in the road. Exodus 13:20 calls the name of this place,Succoth. Most people read right over this without even noticing the fork, but it is crucial to our understanding.

Verse 17 says, “God led them not through the land of the Philistines. Verse 18 adds, “But God led the people about through the way of the wilderness.” So, there was a fork in the road.

To the left ran a well-marked path that followed the Mediterranean Sea coast through the land of Philistia straight to Canaan, the Promised Land. This path was well-watered with oases. Thus it became the trade route.

Even as far back as Moses' time, it was a paved highway with rest stops in villages and plenty of food available. Bible scholars indicate that it would only have taken Israel eight to ten days to reach Canaan via this route.

By contrast, the road to the right ended abruptly. Much of the trail was unfamiliar, even to Moses. It led directly into a bleak, desert environment with little food or water available. Besides that, it would take Israel nearly two years to get to the threshold of the Promised Land. Furthermore, they would be totally dependent upon God for everything.

Which path would you choose? Most of us would take the easy one. Yet God chose to lead Israel the right way. Unfortunately, this is where many Christians fail, and the journey has barely begun.

Scripture: Matthew 16:24; 10:38

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

We have been indoctrinated by the world and by false teachers of the world who have crept into the church, that we should have it easy. Work has become a four letter word in our culture. The goal has become: Strike it rich and bathe in luxury and ease.

We have forgotten that Christ has called us to be soldiers in His army. There is a boot camp that we must endure to be equipped for battle, and there is a war to be fought. There will be plenty of time for ease after the victory is won. Christ is preparing a mansion for us right now (John 14:2-3), and we will be there soon enough. In the meantime, we need to take up our cross and get ready for battle.

III) God’s Reason:

We do not like the idea of grief and trouble, but God has a reason for taking us down the right fork. He took Israel the roundabout way because verse 17 says that they were not ready for war.

Scripture: Exodus 12:51

And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

I like this verse. This is so like God. He does not dwell on our failures. He focuses on what we can be. We may be His army, but without training we are more like a giant mob than a disciplined fighting unit. We are not ready for war, particularly not with spirit beings of immense power. Yet God wants us to be ready and able.

The Jews were slaves all their lives. They knew nothing of war. The fighting was done by the Egyptians. They were the trained soldiers; the Israelites were merely civilians.

Illustration: I hated every minute that I spent in the Marine Corps. There was not a day in boot camp that I was not in pain. I hated everything about it. For years, I was mad at God over it. I could not understand why He allowed me to be there. Gradually, I comprehended.

He wanted me to know what it is to be a soldier.

Scripture: II Timothy 2:3-4

3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

These words were written to a young pastor by an old soldier in God’s army. There is no doubt in my mind that I could not have done the things that I have done in the service of the Lord without that Marine Corps training. What I went through in boot camp is nothing compared to some of the things I have faced in my walk with the Lord. What boot camp taught me is that this is what you have to do to be a soldier and to fight the fight.

Very few churches today sing that great old Christian hymn that begins with the words, “Onward Christian soldiers…” Very few sing it and even fewer do it. Most of our national problems lie right there. Too many Christians are civilians, when there is a war to be fought—not the war on terror, but the war against our adversary the devil and his fallen angels. If we fail to go through God’s boot camp, we will be ill-equipped to deal with the ruthless terrorists of his satanic army. Remember, there are giants in the Promised Land.


There is a fork in the road of life for every believer. The left fork is apparently easier, but the right fork is the right way! God never leads His children the wrong way. He always leads the right way. The songwriter said it very well:

In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along,
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the water,
Some through the flood,
Some through the fire,
But all through the blood.

Some through great sorrow,
But God gives a song,
In the night season
And all the day long.

~G. A. Young~

Next time: The Cloud and Pillar of Fire

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