Hey ya’ll, happy Friday!
Okay first off real quick, did anyone ever imagine we’d be alive and experiencing a worldwide pandemic? Pretty crazy circumstances going on here. I hope and pray ya’ll are doing well during these times, but if you’re struggling please head over to my prayer request page and submit one so I can be praying for you specifically.
I was going to make a post about it, but I decided not to. Instead I’ll just keep it short and let ya’ll know what I’m reminding myself of. These are the times our faith shows (or doesn’t). We need to be sure we’re leaning into God’s Word, helping each other, and being a light in our community!
Anyhow, I want to share something cool I came across while I was studying my Bible the last couple weeks. I’ll preface with saying that I was convicted a few months ago about my method of study that I was currently doing. I think there’s a time and a place for all sorts of studying, but I had fallen into the habit (for quite a while) of just doing topical studies, or guided studies via books/devotionals. While I totally think these can be amazing tools for growing in our faith, it should be supplemental, not the only way we go about getting to know our God.
I’m going to be honest here. The thought of putting away my cutesie “fill in the word/answer” studies that were very much about me, my feelings, my journey, and my handpicked topic that I wanted to delve into, left me feeling a little bored, uninterested, and ultimately guilty. (And I think this is a good time to interject real quick and talk about checking our deep down motives. Like the deep down ones. Where we actually think and pray and ask our Maker to reveal to us why we do what we do. I can honestly say there have been times in my life where I have crashed deep into these studies with the core intent of learning God’s Word. But I can also say that I’ve mistakenly and completely without ill intention started these types of studies with “me” as the motive. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with searching ourselves and improving in areas. But if you’re starting to feel shallow in these guided books, or you’re catching yourself hurrying through them to fill in the blanks before your meeting or group, it might be time to do some soul searching.)
I didn’t want to just start reading the Old Testament. It seemed “boring” to switch from my adorably constructed journal studies and books. And like I said, I absolutely think there’s a place for them. But ya’ll, I’ve experienced some amazing things these last few months! There is something truly so eye opening, soul filling, and enriching about reading God’s Word just to get to know Him, His ways, His motives, and the way He’s guided His people throughout the ages.
My journey began in Exodus. Adventure, familiar stories, familiar people…I felt like I sailed right through it! I was still getting used to reading chapters at a time instead of an excerpt and then filling out my “study” book. Then came Leviticus..oh boy ya’ll. That was a toughie. And then Numbers. Now this is where the “click” happened. The first bit I was struggling. The rules and laws, the repetition..but then I got to Chapter 22, when we learn about Balak and Balaam and it got so interesting! Learning about a man who was wicked, into sorcery, and yet still wouldn’t go against the Word of God when He was directly spoken to. How God was always mighty and sovereign, how He worked through His people and those who were pagan and evil alike to complete His will and plan. I started getting such a peace and contentment that even through hardship, His hand is at work.
Okay ya’ll, we’ve made it this far, here comes the main story behind this blog, haha!
So now I was in Numbers chapter 33, and I was reading the part where Moses is basically recounting Israel’s journey thus far. In verse 8 my bible (ESV) used the wording, “and they set out from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness…” I read that and thought, well that’s an interesting way to word it. He must be talking about when they crossed the Red Sea! And the passage continues and talks of locations and camps, and I was just curious so I turned to my study map and was looking at their route. At first I thought I was reading it incorrectly because it didn’t make “sense”. It seemed like they turned back and went a weird way to get where they were going.
So I turned back to Exodus, chapter 14 and started digging.
Now, this is something ya’ll might very well already know. Maybe you’ve done a study on this. Or maybe you’re a legit theologian. Or maybe you’re more thorough than I, haha!
All I know is that most of my life I’ve grown up “knowing” the story of the Exodus. I had this idea in my head (even though I’ve read through the book multiple times) that they were fleeing, came across the Red Sea, Oh no! They’re stuck, but God pulls through and He opens the Sea and saves them, thus wiping Pharaoh’s army out and letting His people continue their journey to the Promised Land. Right? I mean that’s basically what we focus on when we teach our kids this story. That no matter what, God comes through and can perform miracles to save His people. Right?
Well yes of course! But was that the point? I know growing up in Sunday school that was the point that I focused on. That was my “takeaway”. That’s why even though I’ve read it multiple times as an adult that’s what I pictured as I was reading through.
Okay this is the cool part ya’ll..you know when you’re reading a story or blog and then all of the sudden the title makes sense? Here it comes…
“To turn back.”
Those three little words are SO COOL. Three little words that I have skipped over how many times? But you know what those three little words do? They shed a completely different light on this entire historical account.
So here we are, Numbers chapter 14, verses 1-4: “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”
Fast forward to verses 13 and 14, “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 silent.”
Verse 15, “The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Do ya’ll see it? TO TURN BACK. And why? So God could have the glory!
He actually had them turn back, switch directions, go backwards, and camp in a different spot SO that they would be stuck. So He could have them in a position to show His glory and complete His plan with them as well as the Egyptians.
How often do we make it just about us? How often do we read things, study things, or heck go through tough things in life that try us, and yet we make it all about us? Ya’ll, life is so much more abundant when we live this life FOR GOD, not for ourselves. He has a purpose greater than we can imagine. Our lives are not our own when we live for Christ. It’s not all about us being blessed, comfortable, and seeing God work on our behalf. Sometimes it’s about the other person, or people, or mission, or purpose.
I learned a few things through this.
1.) SLOW DOWN when I read Scripture. Three little words, heck one word, can change our understanding of something. And in a world where Satan is constantly trying to distract, deceive, and deter us from Truth, this can be crucial!
2.) Sunday school is amazing! But sometimes those of us with very descriptive minds can make this story in our heads of what we grew up thinking it was, and when we get older we “glaze” over verses adopting them to the narrative we already created in our head rather than reading it with a fresh set of eyes.
3.) I can honestly say that in the last few months God has revealed more to me about my personal life, choices, and convictions while reading through “boring” Old Testament books than in the last few years of doing topical study books. I’m not saying I haven’t learned from those books, they can be absolutely amazing, and I had some realizations and “aha” moments, but the peace, comfort, and contentment that I’ve experienced just reading about who God is and how He works has been much greater than the “inspirational” books and devotionals. He wants us to know Him, search Him, know His character. I truly believe this is when the Holy Spirit overwhelms us with peace and acceptance. There’s a time and a place for both, but in our culture “study books”, “prompting journals”, and “topical devotionals” have overshadowed simply sitting with our bibles and spending time with Him.
So I hope ya’ll enjoyed the blog! I think in a time like this where school, jobs, our routines have been halted, it’s a fitting thing to study. God is always at work. Nothing happens that He doesn’t first allow. So let’s make sure we seek Him through this and see what He’s teaching us, expecting of us, and heed the call.
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