Detours, Dead Ends & Dry Holes


The Discipline Of Detours

Text: Exodus 13:17-18

In the book of Exodus there are three chapters that tell us about wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel. From the experiences of the people of God in the Old Testament we are going to be learning lessons about the Lord's leading in our lives.

God makes it clear in the New Testament that their experiences can be used as examples for us today; "Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition..." (1 Cor. 10:11).

In Exodus 13:17-18 we read that God did not lead the children of Israel directly to the Promised Land (the place He had destined for them). Rather, He took them on a detour.

What are the lessons we can learn about God's guidance from this passage?

 1   God's guidance is always possible.
See Exodus 15:13.
God guides us on the basis of His mercy.

 2   God's guidance is sometimes perplexing.
       See Exodus 13:17.
       Principle of Progress: What is easiest may not always be what is best.
         There was a "nearer" way but not a better way.

 3  God's guidance is personal.
        See Psalm 32:8 and Psalm 73:24.

 4  God's guidance if progressive.
      See Psalm 37:24.
        What may seem at times as a "backward" step may in fact be
           "forward" motion.

God led them through the "wilderness" based on His wisdom.

Why did God lead them through this detour? What was God's goal? He tells us the reason in
verse 17.

#1  God was protecting them.
      God was protecting them from danger.
      They traveled in circles because it was God's providential plan.

One of the purposes of "detours" is to keep us from  danger.

#2  God was preparing them.
      God was getting them ready for WHERE He wanted them to be.
      God was getting them ready for WHAT He wanted them to do.

One of the purposes for "detours" is to  develop  us.

Remember, there will be difficulties where you are destined to be.

How did God direct them through this detour? You can depend on God when He directs you by way of detour.

#1  Notice God's provision.
      See verse Exodus 13:21
#2 Notice God's presence.
      See Exodus 13:22.
      God will not detour you then desert you!
      God leads you through the "wilderness" and the detours because He 
         is preparing something better for you, something better.
      God uses "detours" as a way to help you find and fulfill your

The Dilemma Of Dead Ends

Exodus 14: 8-10

Now the children of Israel met with "The Dilemma of Dead Ends." They were surrounded by the mountains, Red Sea in front of them, and Pharaoh's army was coming up behind them. They were brought to a total dead end.

From their experience we learn what to do when God leads us to a "dead end," an impossible situation. (Remember, God was leading them.)

I.  Refuse Fear

  Four Ways Fear Effects Us:

    A.  Fear makes us skeptical (v. 11a).
          1.  Fear causes us to doubt.
          2.  We ridicule what we are afraid of!
    B.  Fear makes us selfish (v. 11b).
          1.  Fear causes us to focus only on ourselves
    C.  Fear makes us stubborn (v. 12a).
          1.  "Leave us alone" is an attitude produced because of fear.
    D.  Fear makes us short-sighted (v. 12b).
          1.  Fear causes us to want to live in the past.
          2.  Attitude of "Let's go back to Egypt."
          3.  What are you hanging on to because of fear?

II.  Renew Your Faith

Three Steps to Renew Your Faith

    A.  Let go - "Do not be afraid..." (v. 13a).
          1.  How do you let go of fear?
               a.  Recognize God is in control
    B.  Look up - "stand still and see" (v. 13-14).
          1.  Fear causes us to want to run - faith stands and looks to God.
          2.  When you look up you will loosen up.
    C.  Launch out -" tell the people to move on" (v. 15).
          1.  There's time to pray and a time to act. A time to wait and a time to go.

God usually takes you through your problem, not around it.

When you face a "dead end" you have  three options:

     1. Surrender
     2. Fight
     3. Trust God

Where you turn in time of trouble indicates who and what you really trust!

God led the Children of Israel to a "dead end" - they were facing an impossible situation. Why? There are at least two purposes:

1.  For God's glory.
2.  For Israel's good/growth.

Corrie Ten Boom said, "There is no panic in heaven, only plans!"
Remember, Situations that are out of your control are firmly in God's grasp!

The Disappointment Of Dry Holes

Exodus 15:22-27

Now we come to the "Disappointment of Dry Holes" - here God led them to Marah to prove or test the Children of Israel. You would think people would have been ecstatic over the Exodus from Egypt and the deliverance through the Red Sea, but they were not.

I.  The Problem (v. 22-24)
.  What was the "real" problem?
       1. The problem was they did not get or find what they expected or
       2.  They expected to find drinking water. They experienced

Disappointment is unfulfilled expectation.

B.  Remember, God had led them all the way. The problem was the
       1. Notice how they responded; they pouted and  doubted.

Disappointment always leads to doubt. When this happens you feel  deprived.

II.  The Purpose (v.25)
  Remember, God led them this way. His purpose was to test them.
       1. They failed the test!
       2.  He wanted to see if they were getting the message of the miracles
            He had performed for the them.

Here's the message: God could and would supernaturally provide, protect, and prosper them, no matter where they were or what they were facing.

B.  Deliverance from disappointment comes by learning to depend on
      God's dependability.
       1. Another word for "dependability" is faithfulness.
       2. They weren't depending on God. How do we know that? Answer:
Instead of calling on 
God they criticized Moses.
       3. Moses, who was depending on God, called out to Him and He

God can change things from what they are to what He wants them to be and what they need to be.

III.  The Provision
   A.  God had a plan to provide for His people.
         1.  Every "dry hole", every disappointment can be used of God to
             display His divinity.
         2.  Disappointments are His "appointments."
   B.  God has a plan for your provision.
         1.  In verse 26, God makes a promise.
         2. Promise leads to provision.

Conclusion:  Read verse 27. Elim was only 10 miles from Marah. Here is God's message:

  Don't stop and murmur, but march on.

  Your disappointment might be God's "appointment" to
   prove that the blessing can follow bitterness.

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