God has always wanted to lead His people. I think that He is almost catatonic with joy when we allow Him to do this. Throughout the ages, and all through Israel’s history, we see Him reaching out to people, who are stubborn and selfish in their choices. But He reaches out to them anyway.
Israel had been sovereignly led out of Egypt. Miracle after miracle had made this happen. A dramatic exodus from slavery would make the front page that day. People from every generation would know that God was setting His people free.
God didn’t tell them the way, but rather showed them the path Himself. He led them with “a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night” (Exodus 13:20-22). The people, however, repeatedly refused to trust their Deliverer-Shepherd. They hardened their hearts and rebelled against Him.
“Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us; for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we do not know what happened to him.’”
Acts 7:39-40, NASB
They made the choice themselves, they would turn around. They would go back in slavery to Egypt. (Actually in their hearts, they had already done so!) They were rejecting and renouncing God, and turning their backs on Him.
But we are given what we want. Even if it takes us into bondage again.
When we begin to follow, God starts to lead. He takes an active role to guide and direct us, and to bring us into victory. When we try to go back to Egypt, we will experience His discipline.
“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery…”
Galatians 5:1, NLT
“Because of their unbelief they were not able to enter His rest” (Hebrews 3:19). Then the author draws a clear distinction: “They didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter His rest” (Hebrews 4:2-3).
There is a wonderful and real rest. But I am tempted to turn back. Will I decide to let God lead me?