Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus & Mark. Again, so many people say that the Old Testament, or the Bible in general, is not relevant to today or to life, but there are so many things in the history of the Israelites that strike me & are very relevant to me & to today’s world.
The first set of scripture that struck me was Exodus 13: 17 & 18:
“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 & return to Egypt.’ But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.”
This may seem like a random excerpt, but it is so meaningful. To the Israelites & the rest of the world, the way God was leading seemed ridiculous. There was a shorter route for them to take to get to His Promised Land…but they weren’t taking it. They were headed the longer route & they ended up being trapped (temporarily) between the Egyptians & a huge body of water. To the world & to the ones that were frightened & didn’t trust God, it was laughable & ridiculous. But the key to the scripture was that God led them because of what HE could see ahead of them, not what they could see. For the people of Israel & to the Egyptians, it probably would have made more sense to take the shorter, faster, & what seemed to be the easier route to God’s promised land, but God didn’t take them that way for their own sake. He led them through a harder, longer journey for their betterment. He knew, if they went the shorter way, they would end up in battle with the Philistines. He knew, a people just coming out of centuries of slavery couldn’t handle that. They would either be defeated or turn & run in fear back to what seemed “better” to them: slavery. But God’s people were HIS & He could see what they could not, so He led them through a hard journey to eventually end up in a better place, a place of freedom provided by Him.
The second set of scripture I read today spoke of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ & people’s reaction to it, Mark 15:25-39:
“And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Elijah.’ And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'”
In this scripture, there were two different expectations- there were some that expected that if Jesus really was the Son of God, the Messiah, that He would save Himself, spare Himself of the pain and torture of crucifixion. On the other hand, there were some that thought if He really were the Messiah, God or Elijah would come and save Him. These people laughed at Him, mocked Him in his pain, they tortured Him. But again, these people could only see their own expectations, they could not see God’s plan…or they didn’t understand His plan. Yes, absolutely, Jesus could have saved Himself. God could have kept Him from having to go through that…but at the same time, had He done so, no sacrifice would have been made for our sins & in the end we would all remained separated from God forever…there would be NO opportunity for forgiveness & salvation.
Again, it’s so easy for us to look at these examples & be down on those that didn’t trust God or didn’t believe that God had His best plans in-store…but so often we are just like the doubting Israelites or the mocking Pharisees. And if we are not them, if we are the strong and the faithful through difficult times, we can end up mocked by the world…told to give up because “obviously God doesn’t care if He’s letting us go through the hard times, the longer journeys, or the pain of our situation”.God’s plan & where He leads us often goes against what we expect, or what the world thinks God should do, but every time it is for a good reason, a better ending, His plan & glory. Keep that in mind the next time you’re doubting, struggling, feeling frustrated at God (I totally understand because I’ve been there), or when the world is putting you down when you are standing strong. Keep in mind that He can see around the corner & He’s going before you, keep your faith, be thankful, & pray that God will help you learn & understand what He wants you to do in & through the situation He’s put you in.