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Exodus 13:17-22, The Pillars of Cloud and Fire

Tuesday, May 29

The Long Way Around

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

The Egyptians and Israelites were not the only communities living in the lands. Many of the surrounding communities were hostile to newcomers. If God had led the Israelites near the Philistines, they would have walked directly into war. God knew that the people were not yet equipped or prepared for war. So God sent them the long way around.

God leads

As it turned out, the long way around was just what they needed. In the end we will learn, they needed those 40 years in the wilderness to learn how to be self-sufficient, to govern themselves, to prepare for war, and to fend for themselves for food and clothing. But God didn't just send them the long way around unassisted. As they stood at the edge of the wilderness (reminds me of Merry and Pippin at Fangorn Forest), God sent a pillar of cloud to guide them by day and a pillar of fire to guide them by night. God knew just what the people needed, and remained attentive to their abilities and needs.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 13:17-22

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.” They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.