“So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.” Exodus 13:18
They thought they were ready. The armor, newly and miraculously looted from their prior captors, shone in the sun and instilled a confidence not felt for 430 years. They were warriors (just LOOK at the armor!) and they were itching for a fight. Growing up oppressed and in slavery will do that to a people. After all, God had done so many miracles along the way and here they were, in the midst of the most stunning trick of all, walking out of Egypt — why shouldn’t they be ready to fight?
Not only were they parading out of their four-century tour of forced labor, but they were doing so in style, dressed for war courtesy of their former captors. It must have been quite mind-blowing for them to look down and see the clothing worn by their oppressors become the clothing in which they would conquer their enemies in order to enter the Promised Land. Surely the hour of vengeance on their enemies was at hand!
“When Pharoah 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.’” Exodus 13:17
God knew they weren’t ready.
He also knew if they didn’t believe that they were a people of destiny, driven forward by the pursuit of fulfilled promise, they would never leave their captivity. If they left Egypt with the mindset that they were slaves without a master, their sole drive would be to find a new master or return to the old one. So it became an issue of the utmost importance for the Israelites to believe, to KNOW, they were warriors, called to victory. But, their shoulders were not yet broad enough to shoulder the weight of war and God would not suffer His called-out ones to return to the shackles of slavery.
They needed to go through a period of intense training that would draw their hearts into a place of trust with their Deliverer,
so captivity dwelt only in the halls of reminiscence and never polluted the paths of destiny so carefully laid out for them.
“Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Exodus 14:12
You know the rest of the story. God was proven right as we see the reaction of the Israelites to the threat of war from the pursuing Egyptians. The mindset of slavery had not yet been fully purged and they immediately returned to it when a threat came their way. The Lord won the victory for them by swallowing up the Egyptian army in the Red Sea and a new mindset began to form in these prior slaves. A God who delivers and who goes before them can empower them to win battles. They were well on their way to becoming a people who could, and ultimately would, win battles as mighty warriors.
How long have you waited? What things have been spoken over you as identity-defining words from Heaven that have yet to come to pass? What if you changed your perspective on the season between spoken promise and fulfillment?
You are having your shoulders broadened in the Spirit, so when the time of commissioning comes, you aren’t tempted to return to the place of bondage. After all, God will not suffer His called ones to return to the shackles of slavery.
We must remember that having a call on our lives doesn’t mean we are ready to walk it out immediately.
God wants to show us the power of His deliverance and the security of walking in relationship with Him, so that when the times of trial come and the hour of our destiny is at hand, we rise to the challenge, shoulders strong from the hours of training in the secret place. The place where we cultivate dependence on the One through whom destiny is realized.
By Trey Green, Director of Antioch Church-Planting School