Exodus 13:17

The direct road to Canaan lay through the land of the Philistines. God, however, did not lead the people by this way, but round by the Red Sea. "For God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt" (vers. 17). Another reason was that he designed to make his covenant with them, and give them laws, in the solitude of the "mountain of God" (Exodus 3:12).

I. REDEEMED FROM EGYPT, THE PEOPLE ARE NOT PERMITTED TO LINGER ON ITS BORDERS. What snatches of repose are granted, are only meant as a preparation for resumption of the journey on the morrow. Their destination was Canaan. To this they must press forward. A rest of eleven months (at Sinai) will be granted afterwards, meanwhile, on the borders of Egypt, they must pause no longer than is absolutely necessary. At the beginning of the Christian life, delays, pauses, lookings back, are peculiarly dangerous. Egypt is too near. Return to it is too convenient. The pursuer will gain too easy an advantage. There must be no pausing till we are fairly out of the enemy's territory. Succoth to Etham, Etham to Pi-hahiroth (Exodus 14:2).

II. IT RESTS WITH GOD TO DETERMINE THE WAY BY WHICH HIS PEOPLE SHALL BE LED. "When Pharaoh had let the people go, God led them not," etc. (vers. 17).

1. It was the privilege of the Israelites that they had God as their guide. His pillar of cloud and fire went before them (vers. 21, 22). What wiser or safer guide could any one desire?

2. God's guidance was authoritative. Not only were the Israelites not left to pick out the way for themselves, but whither God directed, thither they were bound to go. They were not permitted to take any route they pleased. They were God's people, and must walk by his law.

3. God's guidance was frequently mysterious. They would often be perplexed to understand the reasons of it. A reason seems to have been given here, but otherwise the route chosen must have seemed a very strange one. The believer is often thus led by a way he knows not (Isaiah 42:16).

III. GOD CONSULTS FOR HIS PEOPLE'S GOOD IN THE WAYS BY WHICH HE LEADS THEM. "For God said, peradventure," etc. (ver. 17). Consider here,

1. God's procedure.

(1) He turned the Israelites aside from the road which naturally they would have followed. The way of the land of the Philistines was no doubt the road by which they expected to be led. It was the customary road. It lay straight before them. It was the shortest and most direct. How often does God thus turn us aside in Providence from what might seem to be the natural, as, without a thought to the contrary, it may have been the anticipated course of our lives? The road that lies straight before us is not the one in which we are permitted to walk. Even in Christian work, by what zigzag ways are we sometimes conducted to our ends!

(2) He led the Israelites by a long detour into the wilderness. If the end was to escape the Philistines, God did not allow the Israelites to suppose that he intended to pamper and indulge them. The wilderness was a worse place to travel in than "the way of the land of the Philistines." They would have to encounter many trials. A heavy strain would be put upon their faith. Though exempted from war at the beginning, they had to fight enemies on the way, and ultimately were marched up to the borders of Canaan, to undertake, at another point, the work of invasion. In like manner, the Christian curriculum is not an easy one. Whoever enters upon the Christian journey, expecting to find it all sunshine and roses, is doomed to sorrowful disappointment. The road, under God's guidance, soon takes a turn, which leads into the wilderness of trial.

2. The reasons of God's procedure.

(1) The direct way was at that time an impassable one. The Israelites, just escaped from Egypt, were not in a condition to force their way through the strongly defended territory of the Philistines. The difficulty, it is true, lay in them - in their want of faith, courage, and power of obedience, not in God, whose help was all-sufficient. But practically, the direct road was closed against them. So, in God's merciful guidance of his people, the path is sometimes bent aside, because no other is for the time practicable. Obstacles to their progress, insurmountable by them at that stage of their knowledge and experience, block up the road which seems more direct, and to be allowed to advance in it would be no kindness.

(2) The direct road was fraught with danger for themselves. Their strength and faith were not equal to the opposition they would encounter. It would have proved too much for them. They must be allowed time to gather experience, to throw off the habits of their servitude, to be brought under discipline for war, to acquire steadiness and courage in facing an enemy. Led up against the Philistines in their present undisciplined condition, they would have fled at the first onset, and would have clamoured, even more vehemently than they did in the desert (Exodus 14:12), to be conducted back to Egypt. And does not this in large measure explain the mysterious turnings and windings in our own lives? God, who knows our frame, understands perfectly what degree of severity in temptation we are able to endure, and he mercifully orders our course, so that we may not be tempted above that we are able (1 Corinthians 10:13). We pray, "Lead us not into temptation" (Matthew 6:13), and this is one way in which the prayer is answered. Another way is by preventing or restraining the temptation. But where, as in the present case, it is a temptation which, so to speak, belongs essentially to the situation - which we must encounter, if that path is to be travelled at all, then is there no way of avoiding it but by being led in a different road. Especially in the beginning of a Christian course may we expect these sudden turnings of our path. We are not then in a condition to encounter very powerful enemies, to endure very fierce temptations, and by taking us a little way about God shields us from them.

(3) There was a discipline to be gained in the circuitous route by which they were led. God's design, in sparing his people the battle with the Philistines, was not, as we have seen, to indulge and spoil them. The place whither he conducted them was the wilderness, and there he purposed to subject them to a severe moral training. The end of this training was simply to bring them up to the standard which as yet they had not reached, to develop in them the qualities in which they were as yet deficient, to impart to them, in short, that hardihood and strength of character and will which would enable them to cope with Philistines, or any other foes. The end God has in view in our own trials is precisely the same.

IV. OUR WISDOM, UNDER ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LIVES, IS TO RESIGN OURSELVES TO GOD'S LEADING, BELIEVING IT TO BE ALWAYS THE BEST FOR US. We cannot err in resigning ourselves to the guidance of one omniscient, wise, loving, and supremely good. - J.O.

Through the way of the wilderness.
I. THE WAY BY WHICH GOD OFTEN LEADS HIS PEOPLE MAY BE DESCRIBED AS THE "WAY OF THE WILDERNESS." There are several points of analogy or similarity between the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan, and the path of God's people through this world. For one thing, the journey of the sons of Jacob was circuitous. There can be little doubt that, after their release from bondage, they looked forward to a speedy occupation of the Promised Land; but in this they were disappointed. They were not permitted to go direct and at once to their inheritance. Then, again, it was not a way of their own choosing. There were two routes, either of which they might have followed; one, the ordinary caravan route through the country of the Philistines, entering Canaan from the south; the other, by the Red Sea and the wilderness of Sinai, entering Canaan from the west. There was no geographical necessity for taking the more circuitous route through Sinai. Indeed, without an explicit command from God, it would have been the height of folly for any leader, even Moses, to have attempted to conduct such a vast host all unprovided for into the desert. Now, the discerning reader cannot fail to be struck with the similarity of all this to the Providential ordering of human life. The current of our earthly being seldom runs straight. There are often many windings before it reaches its goal; and it may be that few of those windings would have been in accordance with our wishes. How true is this of Moses, who, in his impatience for the release of his countrymen, struck the blow for freedom too soon. And instead of being permitted to go direct to the work, he had to undergo forty years of preparatory service among the solitudes of Midian. Take Joseph, and you see the working of the same principle. How strikingly is the hand of Providence seen in his life! His experiences in Egypt before his promotion may seem a strange preparation for his after eminence, and certainly not of his own choosing. God was "leading him about." The pit in Dothan, servitude under Potiphar, confinement in prison, were so many steps or turnings in a life that rose to such distinction. Then again take the apostle Paul. The great ambition of his life was to preach the gospel at Rome. The noble apostle got his wish. He was permitted to go to Rome, but he went as a prisoner. The chains might seem to confine his influence, but, for aught we know, they may have added to the impressiveness of his message and testimony for his Master. God was leading him about, an ambassador in bonds. So in our life. The course of Providence sometimes takes strange turns. Our life-path is seldom what at one time we expected it to be, any more than the journey from Egypt to Canaan was what the Israelites expected. We come to our Etham on the edge of the wilderness, and at that point the current of our life is altered and its winding course begins. The altered current may lead us into the desert of adversity, or into the wilderness of affliction, where for years we may have to endure. Many a Christian has been led home through the winding path of pain. It is God "leading us about."

II. We now proceed to inquire into THE PURPOSE OF THIS ROUNDABOUT JOURNEY THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. When the sons of Jacob left Egypt, they were little better than a band of undisciplined slaves, and they had to be trained. The growth of every noble quality had been cramped and hampered by degrading bondage, and the wilderness was to be their training-school. There was, therefore, a moral purpose in the forty years' wandering. It was intended to train them to be and to do, to develop in them noble qualities, and train them for noble deeds. They could have marched to Canaan in eight or ten days; but eight or ten days would have been too short a period for the growth of character. No one can read their history without observing the change which forty years had produced on them. They gained new experiences, and developed those manly qualities needed to fight their way to the possession of Canaan. Now, is it not in this way still that God prepares His people for their mission? As a general rule the men who have made the deepest impression for good on the world's history have been led up to their throne of influence by a long path of preparation. Few leap into their position at a bound. The shortest way is not always the best. There is, perhaps, no station in life in which difficulties have not to be encountered and overcome before any decided measure of success can be achieved. Those difficulties are, however, our best instructors, as our mistakes often form our best experience. Horne Tooke used to say of his studies in intellectual philosophy, that he had become all the better acquainted with the country through having had the good luck sometimes to lose his way. And a distinguished investigator of physical science has left it on record that whenever, in the course of his researches, he encountered an apparently insuperable obstacle, he generally found himself on the brink of some novel discovery. The severe preparatory discipline which God's men have to undergo is for most part unknown to the world. We cannot tell how the Israelites spent thirty-eight years of their desert life, we only know the effect it had on them. We might further extend this thought to the discipline which God applies for the soul's sanctification. The ultimate end of all the Divine dealings with man in this life must be sought in the life to come. The soul has often to pass through the path of affliction or adversity ere it is fit for the fellowship of the pure in heart in the Promised Land. The reward will be more prized and the rest the sweeter on account of the experience gained when God led you about through the way of the wilderness.

III. IN ORDER TO DERIVE FULL BENEFIT FROM THE EXPERIENCES OF LIFE, SEVERAL THINGS HAVE TO BE ATTENDED TO. Discipline, however suitable it may seem, wilt not of itself further the work of grace in the heart, unless it is accepted as from God. Confining ourselves to this narrative, we find two or three conditions without which Divine discipline will yield no moral profit.

1. In the first place, we must not harbour a spirit of discontent with our lot. To this spirit are traceable many of the calamities of the wilderness, and it barred the gates of Canaan against the generation that left Egypt. That generation did not benefit by God's dealings. Now all this is true in our life. We often miss the good that is meant for us by dissatisfaction with the channel through which it comes. The apprentice lad must not chafe if he is put to distasteful work and at a low wage: let him learn that this is the price to be paid for future advancement, and let him cheerfully accept his post. Murmuring at cross-bearing will do us no good, but rather harm, as it will prevent us from attaining to acquiescence in the Divine will.

2. Secondly, in order to secure the greatest good from our lot, we must banish from our company whatever tends to lead us astray. When the Israelites left Egypt they were joined by a group called the "mixed multitude." The Church's greatest danger lies not so much in attacks from without, as in temporizing with worldly-minded men, and harbouring in her midst those who are not of her in spirit. But this "mixed multitude," while it is typical-of nominal Christians in the Church, may be regarded as a type of those unholy desires and passions that are more or less to be found in the heart of every one of us. We all carry about with us a "mixed multitude" of unsubdued appetites which crave for gratification; and not more surely did the Israelites suffer from the presence of this base throng, than we shall have the peace of our life marred, and its usefulness impaired, by giving reins to those unholy forces. They need to be constantly kept in check, else they are sure to lead us astray. Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.

3. There is one more condition that we must comply with, if we would finish our course with joy, and that is, we must loyally follow the guidance of our Heavenly Leader.

(D. Merson, M. A.)

I. They had been sated with the magnificence of man's works; God led them forth into the wilderness TO SHOW THEM HIS WORKS IN THEIR NATIVE GRANDEUR, and to refresh their exhausted hearts and spirits by the vision of the splendour of His world.

II. God led them forth by the way of the wilderness, that He might reveal not nature only, BUT HIMSELF. He led them into the wilderness, as He leads us, that He might meet with them, speak with them, reveal Himself to them, and teach them to know themselves in knowing Him.

III. God.led them into the wilderness, THAT HE MIGHT THERE CULTIVATE THEIR MANLY QUALITIES, and fit them to hold the possessions they might win.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

1. God does not order salvation to His as it pleaseth man, but as it pleaseth Himself.

2. God in wisdom sometimes translates His Church from the house of bondage to a wilderness.

3. Wilderness and Red Sea paths, are the way of God's people here below.

4. God makes the way to rest not always straight, but to be about.

5. Israel, or God's people, go the round that God doth lead them.

6. Orderly and well instructed are the Church's motions under God in wilderness-ways.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Israel was in an enemy's country. So are the elect by nature.

2. Their bondage was rigorous. So was the Christian's.

3. Their departure, like the believer's, was opposed.

4. And when liberated, their enemies pursued them.


1. The Egyptians must be drowned — enemies subdued.

2. The Israelites must be humbled (Psalm 66:10-12).

3. He led them some hundreds of miles about; yet it was the right way (Psalm 107:7).

4. God's way is right, although it may appear round about (Psalm 18:30).


1. They were not fit as yet for severe warfare.

2. Their enemies were great, and themselves weak.

3. He had much to teach them.

IV. THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY WENT UP. "Harnessed" — or by fives, or five in a rank, or rather by five bodies or squadrons, and so marched out, not in a disorderly or confused way, but in great order and regularity.

1. Their loins were girt (Ephesians 6:14).

2. Their heart was secured (Ephesians 6:14).

3. Their feet were shod (Ephesians 6:15).

4. Having a shield, helmet, and sword (Ephesians 6:16, 17).

(T. B. Baker.)

I. THAT IT IS THE WAY OF GOD TO BRING THE GOOD TO A PLACE OF REST. This is the object of all life's discipline.


1. Wisely.

2. Kindly.


IV. THAT IT IS THE WAY OF GOD TO BRING THE GOOD ALONG UNWELCOME PATHS. Impossible to get to Canaan without perplexities. God is always with the good in their wilderness wanderings.

V. THAT IT IS THE WAY OF GOD TO BRING THE GOOD INTO A BETTER AND MORE THOROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF THEMSELVES. Men get to know more in the desert. Some Christians are taken to heaven through a long route of pain. They long for home, but the journey is prolonged. It is hard to see the reason of their protracted existence. The Divine purpose is not yet accomplished in them.

VI. THAT IT IS THE WAY OF GOD TO BRING THE GOOD INTO A WISE EXERCISE OF THEIR OWN STRENGTH. "And the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt." They walked in battle array. And so, while it is the way of God to conduct human life to its destination, it is also the duty of man to exercise his own wisdom and strength, so that he may do all to aid the plans of God concerning him. Lessons:

1. That God leads men from Egypt to Canaan.

2. That men must give themselves up to the guidance of God.

3. That life is often through a long wilderness.

4. However long the journey, men must trust in God.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. GOD LED THEM. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." When He calls you up the slopes of the mount of sacrifice, it is to bring you within the sound of Divine voices at the summit; when He calls you to the "edge of the wilderness," or to a "desert place apart," it is to "speak comfortably" unto you "out of the cloud."

II. GOD LED THEM NOT THROUGH THE LAND OF THE PHILISTINES, ALTHOUGH THAT WAS NEAR... BUT HE LED THEM ABOUT BY THE WAY OF THE WILDERNESS OF THE RED SEA. He had not taken them into His confidence, they could not understand Him, they had no sympathy with His vast and gracious designs, therefore He did not "give an account of any of His matters." "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." Let no one hesitate to "go up and possess the land," for fear he be overpowered with temptations that beset the path of Peter or Paul or Luther, or of some venerable man of God who but too faithfully has given an account of his conflict with the world and the flesh and the devil. God will take you to heaven, but He has not promised to take you by the near way. It may be by a very long way. One thing I know, it will not be through the way of the land of the Philistines, or of any foes who would effect your ruin and drive you back in despair to the country from whence you came out. Only one enemy will encounter you at a time, and you will be prepared for each as he comes, and the "last enemy" will be kept to the last, and you will be made "more than conquerors." "God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able."

III. "AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WENT UP IN BATTLE ARRAY OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT." The great work given the Church to do is the conquest of the world. These are the marching orders of the Captain of Salvation.

IV. IF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAD ENTERED PALESTINE BY THE NEAR WAY, HOW MUCH WOULD THEY HAVE MISSED! The sojourn in the wilderness was not a scene of unrelieved gloom. They bought and sold, they increased in cattle and in riches. "Their garments waxed not old, nor their shoes upon their feet." They were left generally unmolested by any of the tribes, and when attacked, they were as a rule able to hold their own. Had they not come by the roundabout way, the song of Moses had been unsung, Miriam's harp had been untuned, Elim, with its wells and palms had been undiscovered, Sinai, with its words of love and law had been unknown, the cloud had never been seen, the manna had not been tasted, the water from the rock had not followed them. They would have had no opportunity of partaking in a sacramental feast with the princely Jethro, and of exerting such a favourable impression upon his tribe that many who were "without" were induced to come within and to respond to the invitation, "Come with us and we will do you good, for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." Theirs would not have been the joy which they did experience when, Jordan crossed, they did eat at last the old corn in the land in a city of habitation; they would not have left behind them "footprints on the sands of time," which will cheer the hearts of countless generations of pilgrims until the world shall have an end; they could never have conceived how good and how patient God was, they could never have believed how corrupt their own hearts were, had not Moses at the end of all the wanderings recalled one scene after another, ore act of rebellion after another committed in the light of the unwearied love which "blackened every blot." This last point deserves more than passing notice. "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, to know whether thou wouldst keep His commandments or no." God knew what was in their hearts. The people did not know their own hearts. Some one will say, "I would that I had died in the days of childhood, I should have been saved many a weary march." But you would have missed many a providence, the memory of which will cast a shadow of seraphic loveliness on the background of your eternal home, and which will enable you to strike a higher note than otherwise you could ever have reached. Had you not passed through that night of bitter anguish, you could not have fathomed the depths of the words as you did, "Thy way is in the sea, Thy path is in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known." Had you not been forced to take thought for the morrow, you could never have said as sincerely as you did say, "My heavenly Father knoweth that I have need of all these things." Had it not been for that sore sickness, there would not have been lying upon your life, consecrating it, a "light that never was on land or sea." The scars of your suffering are "marks of the Lord Jesus." Your little bits of experience are so many types which to-day you can set up, and from which you can spell out the might, and majesty, and mercy of the blessed God.

(J. Macmillan, M. A.)

You and I often mark a path out for ourselves; and to us it seems so easy, so likely, so promising of success. Then all at once something happens that disappoints us, and directs us another road that we find further round, and apparently much harder; and we call it a "mysterious providence." Of course, all is mysterious that is the result of wider knowledge than our own. Do you remember old Quarles' lines: —

"I say this way; God says that.

His way is best, for He knows what

Of lions may beset my road.

I'll follow Thee! Lead on, my God!"

He knew what was best and safest, and, in the long run, surest; and by the good hand of God they were kept out of mischief and away from danger. The old proverb is still very true: "The longest way about is often the nearest way home." "He that goes straight across, may have to carry a cross. He that goes round about, may have the chance to go without." His thoughts are not our thoughts, and it is a grand thing to be under His guidance; for "the way of man," as the good Book says, "is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." We know not what is good for us, and, like children, if we were to run alone, we should soon run into mischief. You and I have often been imposed on, both by what we hope and what we fear. Many a time we have tried to run away from what afterwards turned out to be a blessing, and many a time we have been disappointed to save us from being destroyed. I remember on one occasion, when I was young, I got it into my head that I was able to drive. Having narrowly escaped an upset, and frightened myself almost out of my wits, I resigned the reins into more skilful hands than mine, and travelled safely. Let us be as wise as the psalmist, and say, "The Lord shall choose mine inheritance for me!" Let us learn a lesson of patience, too. We may be very anxious to pluck the fruit; but we had better wait till it's mellow, for fear the pain kills all the pleasure. God's time is a good time, and God's way is a safe way, both to-day and to-morrow, too!

(J. J. Wray.)

The Christian life is a growth, and if assailed by some temptations in its infancy, the consequences might be fatal. He, therefore, who commences and maintains the process of our salvation, gradually accustoms His soldiers and servants to the difficulties of their warfare. Their faith, love, zeal, and self-denial are thus exercised rather than oppressed. The text confirms this consolatory view of the Divine procedure.

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ISRAELITES. The deliverance of the chosen tribes was at this moment like the first rays of the morning spread upon the mountains. They had been redeemed from bondage. They were commencing their journey to the promised land, every spirit filled with pleasure. They were confident of their power to endure the trials of the way. The heart-searching God knew their deficiencies; and a variety of circumstances connected with their feeble faith determined Him in wisdom to divert their feet towards Canaan by a devious path.

1. The Philistines, who lay between them and the promised inheritance, were a brave and warlike people, against whom the sons of Jacob, numerous as they were, could not hope to succeed in battle. Wisely, therefore, did the Lord judge that they would shrink from such enemies. Such are the Christian's foes. They are well practised. Satan has triumphed over man in every age, over the philosophy of Greece, the wisdom of Rome, and the refinement of Britain. And thinkest thou, Christian, that the enemies of thy soul are enfeebled? No! What, then, would be the consequences if God led thee past them to Canaan? Wisely and graciously are you led by the wilderness.

2. The Israelites were disarmed, and therefore utterly unable to cope with the Philistines, who were prepared with every means of defence which a people whose delight was in war could invent. The young believer just escaped from the house of bondage is defenceless. His enemies are armed. He cannot expect to wield the sword of the Spirit with the full energy of one who has been accustomed to fight with it.

3. In thus estimating the goodness of God towards the children in their need, we must add that their spirits were bowed down by long captivity. The hard bondage in mortar and brick was not the school in which to learn courage. Hence Israel was not fitted to match against the free soldiers of Philistia. The slavery of Satan unfits for conflict with the foes of the soul.

II. THE DEALING OF GOD TOWARDS THEM. God might have made Israel at peace with the Philistines; or have given them courage to defeat their foes. But this procedure would have comprehended less of moral discipline.

1. He avoided the nearest way to the promised land, and led them by the way of the wilderness. The Israelites would be astonished at the line of march; they would be disposed to murmur. Has not God often contradicted your desires? You ought not to impugn His wisdom. The passenger ignorant of navigation cannot direct the course of the ship. The shipmaster knows the rocks: God knows our path best.

2. The Most High saw fit, not only that His chosen tribes should avoid the shortest way, but that they should pass through the dangers of the Red Sea, and sojourn in the wilderness of Zin. Could this be the result of wisdom? Clouds and darkness are round about Him. It is the exclusive province of unerring wisdom to draw a line between the discipline necessary for our moral good, and that severity of affliction, which might overwhelm us with despondency. We must confide in our heavenly Father.

3. Never, then, should it be forgotten, that although the journey of the Israelites was contrary to their expectations, their wishes, and their clouded judgment, it was the safest and the best path to Canaan.

(R. P. Buddicom.)

Let us try to apply this, so far as the circumstances of the case permit, to the Christian's experience in his religious life. That life must have had somewhere a conscious beginning. I say a conscious one, because its actual beginning precedes our knowledge of the fact. Our Christian life really began, through God's grace, in our baptism, wherein we were made, though unconscious of the blessed truth, the children of God. But to know what then was done for us; to know that we have been made and are alive unto God, to perceive what we are and whose we are — this is like a second beginning. This new beginning is made, ordinarily, at the time of confirmation and first communion; then the Christian's conscious life begins. If at that time you were really in earnest, and knew what you were about, and did what you did in love and sincerity, then first you felt yourself to be a Christian, and for the first time saw yourself to be on the march towards the Celestial City. Now how, by what route, or what line, was your journey to be made? I say at once and emphatically that its best typical picture must still be found in the forty years of wandering, with what they brought by way of trial, and proof, and weaning from the love of this present world; and that without such steady, quiet discipline, the work runs the risk of being brought to naught. For persons recently awakened to sober reflection on their state, and newly brought to Christ, should not be thought of as able, competent, and strong. They are not yet veterans; they are not yet fairly drilled reserves; they are but raw and awkward recruits. It must be so, unless in rare instances, as when in some sweet, holy child one sees the certain making of a saint. If they make their profession of Christ at a very early age, and ere yet they have left the secure protection of a holy family and a religious household, then their weakness is that of a fallen nature which has not been tried by severe temptations from outside. If, on the other hand, they make their open profession of the faith at a later date of life, then, in addition to that congenital weakness, they have what comes of loss of time, delay without sufficient cause, and commerce with the world, and some past relish for the paths of sin. Either way, this new recruit is weak, and liable to fall. Now suppose such an one brought face to face with the Philistines, with a race that know not God, with Goliath and the other giants, with the vast and splendid array of the notable enemies of the Church, with the temptations and trials of this world. Such an encounter can hardly, by any possibility, be avoided. The world is become one great Philistine camp. Strong races, hardened against religion, hold its chief places. What is likely to result when our young Christian falls on such terrible appearances and is called on to surrender? Here surely is work for veterans and champions; but he is no champion, and as yet has hardly proved his arms. There is danger of discouragement, of terror, of flight. And Egypt calls to him to come back, fair to the eye, sweet to the taste, with many allurements, and a bondage which many find agreeable, as if one were bound in fetters of silk or chains of gold. Yes, the danger, if one were to go right on by the way that is near, would be that of losing heart under the first fire, and wishing one's self out of the battle; and taking back, or at least forgetting, the promise he had made, and sinking down, a backslider from Christ. What he wants is hardening, proving, tempering. But that comes in the roundabout way. It is affected by means of the discipline of long and slow-moving years; it is the result of innumerable trials and temptations, the fruit of many painful incidents. St. James bids us count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations. Why? Because they constitute the precious discipline of life. If we fail not, we shall be purified thereby, and made ready for the great and final conflict in our own valley of decision.

(Morgan Dix, D. D.)

To spare a child the toils and pains of education, is the most grievous wrong that a father can inflict On him. Thus did not God spare His sons! From the day when they sang their triumphal hymn upon the desert shore, to the day when they "passed over Jordan," their life was one continued discipline: each station, each experience, had a distinct office in relation to the formation of their character; was sent to add to them a virtue which would be an instrument of conquest or government, and a spring of strength, not in time only, but eternity. Not simply to keep them out of the way of the Philistines, but to drill them till they could master their enemies; to nurse them till they could bring forth a Samson, a David, who could compel the Philistines to own their supremacy, He led them by Sinai, and trained them, by self-conquest, to conquer the strongest foes. They came at last on Canaan, not as a scattered band of marauders, but with the shock of a thunderbolt; you feel that the battle is won the first moment that they set their feet on the land. And those men in the desert, hard as was their way and fare, were making history. Bunsen says, "History was born that night, when Moses led forth his people from Goshen." The narrative of their toils and struggles is the oldest and most precious of historic records, and their waybook has become the heirloom of the pilgrim world. "Behold, we count them happy which endure." And you who are out in the wilderness, faithless and heartless, like a sailor on a dark sea unlit by stars, learn from Israel the grand reason of your pilgrim vocation, and the end to which it will be guided if you follow the highway of God. God finds you a slave; He would make you a son. You are not the lawful slave of wanton Egypt; you have the King's mark upon you — the King of kings is waiting to redeem His own. Come forth, then, come forth to freedom! breathe the free air, scan the broad horizon — it is your land of wandering; see the soft blue hills swelling in the distance, the gleaming of rivers, the shadow of wood-lands — it is your land of rest.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

When the English soldiers were marching up the heights of Alma, meeting the Russians who were marching down towards the English lines, there came a command for the English company to divide, part turning to the left and marching along the side of the hill. It seemed a foolish order when first received by the soldiers. There were Russians marching right in their teeth, and yet half of them were to turn away when the foe was close upon them! But the order was not long considered foolish. Those that turned to the left soon found that a company of Russians had been secretly coming up the side of the hill to fall upon the English unawares. The commander-in-chief from the hill on which he stood could see all the movements of the foe, while those that were perplexed at his orders could see only a small portion of the field. So He who orders our life and lot sees all the movements of the powers of darkness, and to deliver us from their plots and designs, He often leads us by a way we know not.

(H. Starmer.)

What do you do when, in reading the massive folios of ancient English authors, you meet passages written in an unknown tongue? Paragraph after paragraph but you read with all possible fluency, instantly apprehending the author's purpose; suddenly the writer throws before you a handful of Latin, or a handful of Greek; what then? If you are absorbed by the interest of the book, you eagerly look out for the next paragraph in English, and continue your pursuit of the leading thought. Do likewise with God's wondrous Providence-book. Much of it is written in your own tongue — in large-lettered English, so to speak; read that, master its deep significance, and leave the passages of unknown language until you are further advanced in the rugged literature of life; until you are older, and better scholars in God's probationary school. The day of interpretation will assuredly come.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Hivite, Hivites, Israelites, Jebusites, Joseph, Moses, Pharaoh
Etham, Red Sea, Succoth
Although, Change, Conflict, Didn't, Egypt, Face, Heart, Lead, Led, Lest, Minds, Pass, Peradventure, Perhaps, Pharaoh, Pharaoh's, Philistine, Philistines, Repent, Return, Road, Seeing, Sending, Shorter, Though, Towards, War
1. The firstborn are sanctified to God
3. The memorial of the Passover is commanded
11. The firstborn of man and beast are set apart
17. The Israelites go out of Egypt, and carry Joseph's bones with them.
20. They come to Etham
21. God guides them by a pillar of a cloud, and a pillar of fire

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Exodus 13:17

     5568   suffering, causes

Exodus 13:17-14:28

     7222   exodus, events of

Exodus 13:17-18

     5505   roads
     8129   guidance, examples

Exodus 13:17-22

     5828   danger

Thought, Deed, Word
'It shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord's law may be in thy mouth.'--EXODUS xiii. 9. The question may be asked, whether this command is to be taken metaphorically or literally. No doubt the remembrance of the great deliverance was intrusted to acts. Besides the annual Passover feasts, inscriptions on the door-posts and fringes on the dress were appointed for this purpose. And the Jews from a very early period, certainly before our Lord's
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Fifth Day. Holiness and Redemption.
Sanctify unto me all the first-born.'--Ex. xiii. 2. 'All the first-born are mine; for on the day I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified unto me all the first-born in Israel: mine they shall be: I am the Lord.'--Num. iii. 13, viii. 17. 'For I am the Lord your God that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.'--Lev. xi. 45. 'I have redeemed thee; thou art mine.'--Isa. xliii. 1. At Horeb we saw how the
Andrew Murray—Holy in Christ

June the Tenth Pillars of Cloud and Fire
"The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud." --EXODUS xiii. 17--xiv. 4. I need His leadership in the daytime. Sometimes the daylight is my foe. It tempts me into carelessness. I become the victim of distraction. The "garish day" can entice me into ways of trespass, and I am robbed of my spiritual health. Many a man has been faithful in the twilight and night who has lost himself in the sunshine. He went astray in his prosperity: success was his ruin. And so in the daytime I need the
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

The Personality of Power.
A Personally Conducted Journey. Everyone enjoys the pleasure of travel; but nearly all shrink back from its tiresomeness and drudgery. The transportation companies are constantly scheming to overcome this disagreeable side for both pleasure and business travel. One of the popular ways of pleasure travel of late is by means of personally conducted tours. A party is formed, often by the railroad company, and is accompanied by a special agent to attend to all the business matters of the trip. A variation
S.D. Gordon—Quiet Talks on Power

"The Lord Hath Need of Him. " Mark xi, 3
What! of an Ass? Yes, "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world." He gets renown to Himself by "using things which are despised." Let us never despair of the most foolish of men, if he become the servant of Jesus. It is said of the great John Hunt, that when a young man, he gave no promise of the talents he shewed in the work of the Ministry. We have spoken with one who knew him before his conversion, who made us smile as he described his gait and style of life. Yet this ungainly ploughboy
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread

Entangled in the Land
"For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in."--Exodus 14:3. ISRAEL WAS CLEAN escaped from Egypt. Not a hoof of their cattle was left behind; nor foot of child or aged man remained in the house of bondage. But though they were gone, they were not forgotten by the tyrant who had enslaved them. They had been a very useful body of workers; for they had built treasure cities and storehouses for Pharaoh. Compelled to work without wages,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891

Letter xxxvi. To Pope Damasus.
Jerome's reply to the foregoing. For the second and fourth questions he refers Damasus to the writings of Tertullian, Novatian, and Origen. The remaining three he deals with in detail. Gen. iv. 15, he understands to mean "the slayer of Cain shall complete the sevenfold vengeance which is to be wreaked upon him." Exodus xiii. 18, he proposes to reconcile with Gen. xv. 16, by supposing that in the one place the tribe of Levi is referred to, in the other the tribe of Judah. He suggests, however, that
St. Jerome—The Principal Works of St. Jerome

Letter xxxv. From Pope Damasus.
Damasus addresses five questions to Jerome with a request for information concerning them. They are: 1. What is the meaning of the words "Whosoever slayeth Cain vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold"? (Gen. iv. 5.) 2. If God has made all things good, how comes it that He gives charge to Noah concerning unclean animals, and says to Peter, "What God hath cleansed that call not thou common"? (Acts x. 15.) 3. How is Gen. xv. 16, "in the fourth generation they shall come hither again," to be reconciled
St. Jerome—The Principal Works of St. Jerome

Epistle xxviii. To Augustine, Bishop of the Angli .
To Augustine, Bishop of the Angli [136] . Gregory to Augustine, &c. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will (Luke ii. 14); because a grain of wheat, falling into the earth, has died, that it might not reign in heaven alone; even He by whose death we live, by whose weakness we are made strong, by whose suffering we are rescued from suffering, through whose love we seek in Britain for brethren whom we knew not, by whose gift we find those whom without knowing them we sought.
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

Jesus Living at Nazareth and visiting Jerusalem in his Twelfth Year.
(Nazareth and Jerusalem, a.d. 7 or 8.) ^C Luke II. 40-52. ^c 40 And the child grew [This verse contains the history of thirty years. It describes the growth of our Lord as a natural, human growth (compare Luke i. 80); for, though Jesus was truly divine, he was also perfectly man. To try to distinguish between the divine and human in Jesus, is to waste time upon an impracticable mystery which is too subtle for our dull and finite minds], and waxed strong [His life expanded like other human lives.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Healing of the Woman - Christ's Personal Appearance - the Raising of Jairus' Daughter
THERE seems remarkable correspondence between the two miracles which Jesus had wrought on leaving Capernaum and those which He did on His return. In one sense they are complementary to each other. The stilling of the storm and the healing of the demonised were manifestations of the absolute power inherent in Christ; the recovery of the woman and the raising of Jairus' daughter, evidence of the absolute efficacy of faith. The unlikeliness of dominion over the storm, and of command over a legion of
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Jesus' Last Public Discourse. Denunciation of Scribes and Pharisees.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXIII. 1-39; ^B Mark XII. 38-40; ^C Luke XX. 45-47. ^a 1 Then spake Jesus ^b 38 And in his teaching ^c in the hearing of all the people he said unto ^a the multitudes, and to his disciples [he spoke in the most public manner], 2 saying, ^c 46 Beware of the scribes, ^a The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat: 3 all things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Old Testament Canon from Its Beginning to Its Close.
The first important part of the Old Testament put together as a whole was the Pentateuch, or rather, the five books of Moses and Joshua. This was preceded by smaller documents, which one or more redactors embodied in it. The earliest things committed to writing were probably the ten words proceeding from Moses himself, afterwards enlarged into the ten commandments which exist at present in two recensions (Exod. xx., Deut. v.) It is true that we have the oldest form of the decalogue from the Jehovist
Samuel Davidson—The Canon of the Bible

Circumcision, Temple Service, and Naming of Jesus.
(the Temple at Jerusalem, b.c. 4) ^C Luke II. 21-39. ^c 21 And when eight days [Gen. xvii. 12] were fulfilled for circumcising him [The rite was doubtless performed by Joseph. By this rite Jesus was "made like unto his brethren" (Heb. ii. 16, 17); that is, he became a member of the covenant nation, and became a debtor to the law--Gal. v. 3] , his name was called JESUS [see Luke i. 59], which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. [Luke i. 31.] 22 And when the days of their
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Cavils of the Pharisees Concerning Purification, and the Teaching of the Lord Concerning Purity - the Traditions Concerning Hand-Washing' and Vows. '
As we follow the narrative, confirmatory evidence of what had preceded springs up at almost every step. It is quite in accordance with the abrupt departure of Jesus from Capernaum, and its motives, that when, so far from finding rest and privacy at Bethsaida (east of the Jordan), a greater multitude than ever had there gathered around Him, which would fain have proclaimed Him King, He resolved on immediate return to the western shore, with the view of seeking a quieter retreat, even though it were
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Among the People, and with the Pharisees
It would have been difficult to proceed far either in Galilee or in Judaea without coming into contact with an altogether peculiar and striking individuality, differing from all around, and which would at once arrest attention. This was the Pharisee. Courted or feared, shunned or flattered, reverently looked up to or laughed at, he was equally a power everywhere, both ecclesiastically and politically, as belonging to the most influential, the most zealous, and the most closely-connected religions
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Concerning the Communion, or Participation of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Concerning the Communion, or Participation of the Body and Blood of Christ. The communion of the body and blood of Christ is [1104] inward and spiritual, which is the participation of his flesh and blood, by which the inward man is daily nourished in the hearts of those in whom Christ dwells. Of which things the breaking of bread by Christ with his disciples was a figure, which even they who had received the substance used in the church for a time, for the sake of the weak; even as abstaining from
Robert Barclay—Theses Theologicae and An Apology for the True Christian Divinity

The Third Day in Passion-Week - the Last Controversies and Discourses - the Sadducees and the Resurrection - the Scribe and the Great Commandment - Question
THE last day in the Temple was not to pass without other temptations' than that of the Priests when they questioned His authority, or of the Pharisees when they cunningly sought to entangle Him in His speech. Indeed, Christ had on this occasion taken a different position; He had claimed supreme authority, and thus challenged the leaders of Israel. For this reason, and because at the last we expect assaults from all His enemies, we are prepared for the controversies of that day. We remember that,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Third Withdrawal from Herod's Territory.
Subdivision D. The Transfiguration. Concerning Elijah. (a Spur of Hermon, Near Cæsarea Philippi.) ^A Matt. XVII. 1-13; ^B Mark IX. 2-13; ^C Luke IX. 28-36. ^c 28 And it came to pass about eight days { ^a six days} ^c after these sayings [Mark agrees with Matthew in saying six days. Luke qualifies his estimate by saying "about." But if we regard him as including the day of the "sayings" and also the day of the transfiguration, and the other two as excluding these days, then the three statements
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The book of Exodus--so named in the Greek version from the march of Israel out of Egypt--opens upon a scene of oppression very different from the prosperity and triumph in which Genesis had closed. Israel is being cruelly crushed by the new dynasty which has arisen in Egypt (i.) and the story of the book is the story of her redemption. Ultimately it is Israel's God that is her redeemer, but He operates largely by human means; and the first step is the preparation of a deliverer, Moses, whose parentage,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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