(13) 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 repent when they see war, and return to Egypt." 18 But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him; for Joseph had solemnly sworn the people of Israel, saying, "God will visit you; then you must carry my bones with you from here."
20 And they moved on from Succoth, and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; 22 the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
(14) 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 "Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-ha-hi'roth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Ba'al-ze'phon; you shall encamp over against it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, `They are entangled in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' 4 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." And they did so.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the people of Israel as they went forth defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-ha-hi'roth, in front of Ba'al-ze'phon.
The wilderness was vast and desolate, and largely uninhabitable. Without a good guide, they would have easily perished. God manifested his presence among his people in a special way in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. He guided them through the wildnerness by means of this pillar of cloud and fire. His continuous presence enabled them to persevere on their journey to the very end. It was their greatest consolation while they wandered as aliens and sojourners(Numbers 14:14).
The wilderness was the place of preparation and testing for the people of Israel. When Israel had encamped between the wildeness and the Red Sea, Pharoah sent his special hand-picked forces to bring the Hebrews back to Egypt. This would be their first test in the wildnerness, as they waited on God.
Before the Lord Jesus began his public ministry, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days of preparation. There he encountered testing and spiritual warfare. Through this testing he proved his readiness to obey and to trust his Father.
The Lord leads us into the wilderness by his Holy Spirit (we are not yet home with the Lord in heaven). We, likewise are aliens on pilgrim journey to the promised land of heaven. God guides us on our journey through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who is our pillar of cloud and fire and our guide and teacher ((John 14:16-17,26; 1 Cor. 10:1-3). Are you ready to submit to the Lord and to trust in him as he leads you through the wildnerss of spiritual warfare and testing?
"Lord Jesus Christ, your word is my lamp and your Holy Spirit my light.
Help me to always walk in your presence and to obey your will fully. Give
me courge and perseverence in times of testing and temptation."