As Christians we look to God for guidance and direction in our lives. We also follow the directives in His Word, and make our decisions in life based on what we have come to know as right and wrong from His commandments and truths, and from our renewed consciences. We abandon the ways of the world. We reject the world’s wisdom and guidance and follow Him. To the non-believer this is foolishness, but we recognize that God sees the bigger picture, and He even knows the future, so looking to Him makes perfect sense and ultimately it will lead to our eternal salvation.
For many of us who have been doing this for a long time, we can look back and see the beauty of this guidance in our lives. We can connect the dots and see how the Lord’s guidance has accomplished amazing things in our lives and steered us away from disaster. We also have learned that there were certain times that were extremely difficult and confusing. Yes, this approach isn’t a “cake walk” as they say, but rather there are many times when we start to question ourselves if we “missed it”, or even question God, thinking that He has abandoned us.
Following the Lord’s leading is a spiritual effort. The problem occurs when we look at it from a carnal perspective. We can turn away from the world’s guidance and look to the Lord’s guidance, but we can still view our journey from the world’s perspective, and thus we become confused and discouraged. Remember that it is also God’s desire for us to grow in our faith and trust towards Him. Growth comes as we remain faithful to Him through the difficult times of our journey.
The amazing thing is that many times it appears as if God has led us directly into a trap with no means of escape, but in reality it is a trap for our enemies and a means for God to be glorified for His greatness. This is what I call “the divine trap”.
The best and clearest example of the Lord’s divine trap is found in the account of the deliverance of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt in the book of Exodus. We can draw a clear parallel between the people of God’s escape from Egyptian slavery to the Christian’s escape from the bondage of this world.
When a famine hit the region, God rescued the descendants of Israel by sending them to Egypt, using Israel’s son Joseph, where they found food to survive. God had also raised up Joseph as a great leader in Egypt, thus allowing his family to remain in the land of Egypt after the famine. Over the years as the people of Israel grew and multiplied in Egypt, and Joseph died and his preeminence was forgotten, the Egyptians saw the people of Israel as a possible threat to their nation so they attempted to suppress them through enslaving them.
“And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel, so they made the people of Israel serve with rigor, and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field…” Exodus 1:12-14
The people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help and He raised up Moses to lead them out of Egypt. After many miraculous signs and wonders, the Pharaoh and Egyptians finally agree to release the people.
The Lord’s Leading
As the people of Israel left Egypt, the Lord appeared before them in a pillar of cloud or fire to show them the way.
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” Exodus 13:12&22
It was very clear that this was the Lord’s leading; there was no mistake.
God knew what the people of Israel did not know. He knew the destination, the promised land of milk and honey, and He also knew the best route to reach the destination. Again we see that God has the bigger picture and knows the future.
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness towards the Red Sea.” Exodus 13: 17&18
The people of Israel were encamped by the Red Sea. The Egyptians had decided that they had made a mistake by letting them go and began to pursue them with all the force of their powerful army with over 600 chariots. The people thought that they were trapped, with the Red Sea blocking them from moving forward and their enemies closing in from behind to destroy them. If you remove God from the situation, yes they were trapped, but the truth is that the real trap was being set for the Egyptians. The reality was that God was planning to destroy the enemies of the people of Israel and bring glory to Himself among the nations for doing so, but to the people of Israel it appeared that they had been lead out to the wilderness to be destroyed. The people of Israel failed to see the true trap,but instead saw this as a trap for them.
“And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no more graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:10-12
Following the Lord, for us, could also bring about some apparent disasters or leave us in an apparent trap. It could result in loosing a job, or loosing friends, or destroying a relationship with family members, etc. It could leave us in a difficult spot that seems to have no apparent result but to destroy us. Like the people of Israel, it is the fear of the consequences of these situations that is the real issues. We may think that loosing a job will be devastating, but God opens a door for a new and better job. We may feel that loosing a friend is devastating, but God finds us better friends who have a more positive influence on our lives, where the old friends were actually bringing us down without us realizing it.
Moses replies to the people’s outcry with the truth:
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” Exodus 14:13&14
Here in lies the answer for us when we find ourselves in this situation: do nothing, be still and let God do the work, just trust Him and don’t be afraid. This is true faith. This kind of faith is only put to the test when we are faced with these situations. As we persevere, we grow in strength. This is why the scriptures admonish us to look on these trials with joy because they are for our good as they strengthen our character.
We all know the end of the story for the people of Israel and the Egyptians. God caused the waters of the Red Sea to push back allowing the people of Israel to walk across on dry land. The Egyptian army pursued them and God brought the waters back and completely destroyed the Egyptians. The true trap was sprung and the enemies of the people of God were destroyed. Amazing! God was also glorified in this among all the nations. This event became well know and produced a great fear among the nations of the world towards the God of the people of Israel. As they traveled across the wilderness, the people they encountered were fearful of them. Here again, God knew what was needed for the future.
So the question for us is which trap will we focus on, the apparent trap that we can easily see with the eyes of our flesh, or the true divine trap that God is setting to destroy our enemies and to prepare for the future. We need spiritual eyes to see the divine trap. We need the eyes of faith. We need to allow our faith to overcome our fears. Be strong brethren; stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord.