So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea… And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night (Exodus 13:18, 21, NKJV).

We often speak of the Israelites as having “wandered” in the desert for 40 years after being delivered from slavery in Egypt, but is that an accurate term to use for their experience?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “wander” like this: “to move around or go to different places usually without having a particular purpose or direction.” When you consider that the Jewish nation did not escape Egypt in some willy-nilly, unplanned fashion but rather “in orderly ranks” (see v. 18), is it even reasonable to imagine that God, who delivered them from slavery, would then abandon them to wander aimlessly, “without having a particular purpose or direction”? True, the people themselves may not have realized where they were going or why, but God knew exactly their purpose and direction, and He saw to it that His plans and purposes for them were fulfilled.

That same God, who delivered Israel from bondage and led them through the wilderness for forty years in order to accomplish His purposes for their lives and their nation, is the same God who delivers us from the bondage of sin. It is therefore completely reasonable to believe that He will also faithfully lead us through what may seem like wilderness in order to fulfill His purposes for us.

We all experience times when we feel we are wandering aimlessly, with no purpose or direction, and we are tempted to wonder if God has indeed forgotten us. Be assured, beloved, that He has not. As surely as He led Israel, He will also lead us until we are at last home with Him, where we belong.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV).

…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6, NKJV).

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