The Long Way PART 1
Sergio Valori, Pastor
"God led them not through the way of the land of the
Philistines, although that was near. . ." (Exodus 13:17.
It would seem logical to the natural mind that the shortest
way possible should be taken to any destination. Yet, we find
God repeatedly taking His people the `long way'. Mentally,
we know that His ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than
ours, but we still wrestle to understand them. Perhaps we
should cease from the struggle to understand them and begin
to submit to them in trust. Understanding comes as we obey,
not before we obey.
In His wisdom and foresight, God did not take Israel to
Canaan via the short route because they were not ready for
war. Israel was still a child, untrained and unskilled in
the ways of war. God did not want His child to turn back in
fear, nor would He allow him to be destroyed. The short way
usually looks easy and appealing, but there is a potential
in it for our ruination.
Along with that, there were positive reasons for taking
them the `long way. 'Before bringing them into a land of prosperity
and dominion, God wanted to bring them unto Himself in proper
relationship. The long way of the wilderness would offer opportunity
for that. Having come out of Egypt with a proud and defiant
spirit (Exodus 14:8), they needed to be humbled. God will
not fellowship the proud, for He dwells only with those of
a contrite and humble spirit (Isa 57:15). He looks for a people
whose heart and spirit are broken, submissive and dependent.
It takes the long way of the wilderness to cause us to lose
our self-sufficiency and to develop a relationship of faith
and trust. The relentless pressure of unchanging circumstances
brings about a breaking in our spirit and causes us to throw
ourselves on Him in utter dependency.
The `long way' is the way of testing. In the words of Deuteronomy
8:2, "to prove (test) thee. . .whether thou wouldest
keep His commandments, or no". Every vessel God chooses
must of necessity undergo the tests of obedience, faith, and
trust. In giving Adam a commandment, God prepared the way
for the test of obedience, a test which would either break
or strengthen their relationship. Likewise, Abraham's faith
and obedience were tested repeatedly, until on Moriah he passed
the supreme test and lived on in unbroken fellowship with
God and His purpose.
Thus it would be in God taking Israel by the `long way'
of the wilderness. They would be tested many times, each test
being an opportunity to have their faith refined and their
obedience established. Every test, if passed, could bring
them closer to qualifying for rulership in Canaan. Their relationship
with God could become stronger. They could acquire the spiritual
character and stature so vital in fulfilling His purposes.
It is the `long way' that exposes our hearts. Notice again
in Deut 8:2, "to know what was in thine heart".
God knew what was in their heart, but they did not. Their
hearts had to be exposed so they could see their need and
have opportunity to repent. Oh, the murmuring, the lusting,
and the idolatry that was in their hearts! Like Peter, we
often think that we know our hearts and that we are ready
even to die for Him. But God allows certain things to happen,
or certain circumstances to develop that reveal the true state
of our heart.
This exposure of our hearts gives us an opportunity to prove
the reality of His transforming power. When Job saw the Lord,
he saw also his own state o being, that it was full of reasonings
and pride. But in that moment, he cried out unto the Lord
and said, "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes"
Job42:6. Likewise David, after the sin resident in his "inward
parts" had been exposed, cried out, "Create in me
a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me"
Finally, God's `long way' is a learning process designed
to bring us into life. In Deut 8:3, we find "And He humbled
thee, and suffered thee to hunger... that He might make thee
know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word
that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live".
God wanted them to learn the secret of living. He longed to
bring them into the "path of life".
Bread signifies all that sustains our natural life. Oh,
what great concern and worry these Israelites exercised over
their daily provision of bread and water. By their preoccupation
in this dimension of life, they failed to hear and obey that
living Word that was proceeding out of the mouth of God. Jesus
said, "Take no thought for your life". (Greek: `psuche'
or soul life.) Matt6:25. "But seek ye first the kingdom
of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be
added unto you." Matt 6:33.
God's `long way' usually "suffers us to hunger,"
exposing our soul life to the chastening of the Lord. This
chastening is not easy, nor readily accepted. We go through
the cycle of questioning, complaining, and being rebuked by
the Lord. Eventually, we learn that this way of chastening
is not meant to destroy us, but to mature us and bring us
unto His holiness. It is designed to deliver us from the pursuit
of our own way and align us to His way.
Oh, how faithful God has been to show us the way! Indeed,
His promise is that when you turn to the right hand or to
the left, your ears shall hear a word behind thee saying,
"THIS IS THE WAY, WALK YE IN IT" Isa 30:21.