I often misinterpret the actual events, and I only guess at the possibilities. But God knows all possibilities and their implications.
This is a tremendous comfort to me. I make judgments of error every day because my knowledge is limited. I cannot possibly have all the facts. Even things I claim to know about myself are often skewed (Jer. 17:9). But God’s wisdom is perfect; therefore, He will not make a mistake. He knows all things actual and possible.
One of the key events of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt was the Red Sea crossing (Ex. 14). With the Egyptian army in hot pursuit, the children of Israel found themselves at the edge of the Red Sea with no way out. So God held back the Egyptian army long enough to pull back the water and reveal a road 2,500 feet below sea level.2 They couldn’t see it, but God knew what was actually there.
He also knew all other possibilities. Pay close attention to the verses that precede this story.
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-18).
The way of the Philistines was the shortest route to the Holy Land. Head northeast out of Egypt, keep the Mediterranean Sea to your left, and just keep walking. You can’t miss the Promised Land. But God took them another way. Why? For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”
But if they didn’t actually experience the war (because they went another way), how was God so sure they would get discouraged and return Egypt? Because God saw the possibility with the clarity of an actual event. He knows all things actual and possible.
Theologian Wayne Grudem gets it right,
God is infinitely wise and we are not, and it pleases Him when we have faith to trust His wisdom even when we do not understand what He is doing.3
Are you staring at a stretch of the Red Sea? Take hope. God in his sovereign wisdom brought you there. You can trust him to make a way.
1. Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem.
2. The Exodus Revealed: Searching for the Red Sea Crossing (2002). DVD published by Questar productions.
3. Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem.