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Lessons from the wilderness 

As we come closer to the day of opening the economy and small businesses back to a little bit of normal, I urge everyone of us to read the Bible book of Exodus and some of the lessons that we can learn from the children of Israel.
It was in God’s timing, but step by step He was working out the details of their freedom from the Egyptians. Just as God saw the Israelites’ needs, he sees the needs that you and I have as we return back to everyday life. The most important part of the story is that God never left them at any point, but he met them in the midst of their troubles. Here are some of the lessons that we could carry with us in the days ahead:
1. The Promised Land road is not easy, but it’s worth it. When God freed the children of Israel from the hands of the Egyptian Army, He didn’t lead them down the easiest path and the shortest route. It said that they peradventured instead of going through the middle of the Philistine country, which was the shortest route. God knew that if they had faced war that they would have turned back to the slavery that they just came from. Sometimes, people will go back to their sins and addictions because it seems easier than the long journey that it would take to complete the task. God knew the need and already had the journey planned out for them.
2. He makes a way, when we don’t see a way. The long way around led them by way of the Red Sea. They began to see that giant body of water off in the distance as they traveled but to them it looked like a huge obstacle instead of a way of escape. The obstacle soon became “bigger” than the God that they served. If that wasn’t enough, the Egyptian army began to gain ground to the rear of them. The sea in front and an enemy army behind them. But, God made a way. When there seemed to be no way out, God split the sea and they crossed over onto dry ground, then the water began to close in on the Egyptian army and destroyed them completely.
3. God leads day and night. God led them by a cloud by day and fire by night. The cloud by day not only gave the direction as to where to travel but it also blocked them from the abuse of the sun beating down on them. The fire by night gave them direction but also gave warmth in the midst of the cold desert nights. God gave them something to go by in all directions of their life (Exodus 13:21). “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.”
4. God fights for us! This is just one of the many times in the Bible that it tells that we need not fight, but that we should be still and let God fight for you (Exodus 14: 140). Moses just told the people to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Verse 14  says: The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”
5. God Provides! As they journeyed they became hungry and thirsty and again, God provided. Exodus 16:4 tells us: “The Lord said unto Moses ‘I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate each day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.’” God sent the food that they needed for each day, and He did that every day. Exodus 17:6 tells us that Moses stood at the rock of Horeb and was told shalt smite the rock, and water would pour out of it, so that the people may drink. God provided all their needs to survive on the journey even in the midst of the desert. If God can bring water to the desert for the children of Israel, then He can provide during these times that seem like you are walking through life’s desert and it seems like there is no water to even take a sip of…..God can provide!!!
6. Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go. (Exodus 32) picks up on the story well into the journey. At this point God had already delivered them from captivity, fed them along the way, opened the Red Sea for them to cross over on dry land, as well as destroyed the enemy army that was closing in on them. But they had gotten to a point of complaining and worshiping false gods and idols. God spoke to Moses and called the people a “stiffnecked people.” Our society is much like the children of Israel. God provides our every need and performs miracles in our life and, oh, how quickly God slides down our list from top priority to almost the bottom of the list where He gets our leftovers for the day. We seem to forget that our help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth, and we put everything in front of Him on a daily basis. God was going to pour out his wrath on them, but Moses interceded on their behalf. We as Christians need to be interceding on behalf of our nation and our leaders right now. I don’t know what political party you are affiliated with, but we have a duty to pray for our leaders and intercede.
As we trend back toward opening our lives and our businesses again, let us not forget some of the “wilderness lessons” that we can learn from the children of Israel. God will see us through this time and provide everything that we need. You may be reading this column and need help and God may have someone on the other side of this column reading it and have the means that God provided to rain down manna and bring you a drink in these desert times. Just hold on to God and He will prevail. He told them just to hold their peace and He would fight for them.
Let God fight your battles. I hope you have a blessed week, stay well and God Bless!
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, David Odom)