So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:18)
It was always God’s intention that Israel would journey to Mount Sinai, and not go directly into Canaan, in order to learn how they were to live as His people. The trappings and influence of Egypt needed to be discarded and replaced with His Word and His Will. Furthermore, the event that transpired at Sinai would help them have a heart toward God to fear, love and trust Him. In other words, the longer, more circuitous route to the land would encourage them to internalize His Word and bury it within their heart. As the Psalmist said:
“Your word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
Memorizing His Word is great but if it only exists in our head, and not in our heart, then the possibility exists that we are more likely to sin against him. Think of it this way; some people approach the Scripture from an exclusively intellectual point of view and not so much from a faith perspective. The problem with this approach is, when something doesn’t compute with their intelligence, they are challenged to believe it. There are some things that these intellectuals have rejected outright because they can’t wrap their brains around it.
My response to this scenario is that some things can be understood only with the heart because some things in Scripture transcend our intelligence, logic and understanding. Some things in Scripture are inexplainable and can not be adequately articulated. These are the kind of things that require faith more so than intellect. For instance, how does one explain how the Eternal Word of God became flesh in order to dwell among men? While I believe it, I don’t know if I could explain it –- that’s where my faith kicks in.
So my point today is that, had God taken Israel directly into Canaan rather than taking them on the journey to Sinai to experience the events that transpired there, they would not have had as many opportunities to see the impossible become a reality. They needed to experience things that would remind them that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” They needed to receive His Word in such a way that it would forever be impressed upon their hearts and encourage them not to sin against Him. We need those experiences as well, for through them we learn to appreciate the Word of God more. We better appreciate the need to have His Word within our heart and learn to trust Him more. May our hearts always be tender toward Him that He may work in our life as He sees fit.
Blessings and Shalom,