“Then the LORD gave these instructions to Moses: ‘Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!’ So the Israelites camped there as they were told.” Exodus 14:1-4 (NLT)
God’s ways are certainly different than our ways. It’s seems strange when God designs dead ends in our lives. Why would He lead us to a dead end? This was how He led Israel when He delivered them by His mighty hand from over 400 years of slavery in Egypt. In the previous chapter, we read the route that God led them.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. … God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea….” Exodus 13:17-18 (NLT2)
Whenever I read of the way God guided Israel, I would think how amazing and simple it would be to follow a pillar of cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night that God used to give them direction for when and where to go. But look where God led them – to a dead end!
Maybe that’s where you are in your faith journey right now. You’re at a dead end. What began as a dream has somehow turned into a nightmare, and you feel done! You feel helpless with no hope in sight. When God moves into our hearts, He gives us a dream of what He wants to do in our lives. He begins the stages of remodeling us from the inside out with demolition, like a contractor remodeling a house, so that it will become that dream home we’ve always envisioned. Demolition often leads to delays where we realize that God is never in a hurry. Spiritual growth and maturity are a process that take time. Those delays can lead to desperation when we find ourselves at a dead end! What happened? We wonder if this is some cruel joke and become disillusioned with God. Yet, if you follow God’s blueprint for change carefully, you will discover that dead ends are by God’s design! Dead end is the stage just before deliverance!
Here are five ways that God uses dead ends in our lives:
1. Dead ends build our faith. When the Israelites found themselves at a dead end with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army behind them, they were right where God wanted them to be. It would be at the dead end where God would teach them to trust in Him.
“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant.” Exodus 14:31 (NIV)
2. Dead ends demolish our fears. Israel had been freed from slavery, but they were still enslaved to fear. At their dead end, the Bible says they were terrified. You can’t help being afraid, but you don’t have to give into those fears. God wanted to demolish their fears and ours and uses dead ends to do it.
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.” Exodus 14:10 (NIV)
3. Dead ends free us from past chains. Like Israel, our dead ends can terrify us and cause us to become enslaved to our fears. We become afraid that we are a product of our past and fixed in our failure. We listen to the voices of defeat and believe we can never change. We will never experience the blessing God promised. It may work for others, but we are damaged goods. He can’t do it for me. Then we come to a dead end and are convinced that we will never really break free from our past. But the truth is, God uses dead ends to free us from past chains because the dead end is the final stage before deliverance! In Exodus 14:13c (NIV), God tells the Israelites this,
“The Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.”
What a promise! You can begin again! You are not a product of your past! When we come to Christ, old things pass away and all things become new!
4. Dead ends take us to our destiny! It was at their dead end that Israel would see the glory of God delivering them into their destiny! The dead end was God’s way of saying it’s done! “You are no longer a slave of Egypt! You are My people! I am taking you to your destiny! You are a holy nation!” The dead end is God’s door that opens your destiny! The very barrier before you is the bridge that God uses to take you to your destiny. They had to reach their dead end before God could lead them on to the promised land. At your dead end, God is saying, “It’s done! Quit living in your past. You’ve been forgiven.” He has separated your sins from you as far as the East is from the West. You are no longer condemned! You are free! Live free!
5. Dead ends point others to God’s greatness! When we are at our dead end and God comes through, even our skeptics will have to admit there is a God! What is there in your life that only God can do and get the credit for?
“… I have planned this in order to display My glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!’ So the Israelites camped there as they were told.” Exodus 14:4b (NLT)
If you’re at a dead end in your life by God’s design, you didn’t get off the path. You’re right where He wants you to be as strange as it may seem. Don’t lose heart. God is using the dead end to bring you to your destiny! This week, we’ll look at what to do when we find ourselves at a dead end.