The Lord was guiding the Israelites through the wilderness. He first told them that they had spent enough time on the mountain and they must get going. Here, the Lord rebuked them for going around in circles around Mount Seir for many days. They must change their direction and go north instead of repeating the same route again and again.
Doing the same thing repeatedly has its attractions, the route is familiar and we do not have to think twice about what is coming up ahead. None of us like surprises, routine makes us feel secure and in control. On the other hand, going around in circles means that we are making no progress, getting into a rut and afraid of trying new adventures. We trade safety and security with purposelessness and fear of failure. One reason for us to go around in circles is the fear of the unknown.
The scriptures give a subtle hint on why the Israelites were hesitant in going forward. Two groups of people were in their way and they were very reluctant in dealing with them. The first group was the people of Esau, their brothers who lived in Seir. The Israelites might not know what to do with them, causing the paralysis and going about in the mountain country. The Lord then told them what to do with their brothers there: do not contend with them, do not take their land, food or money. They should buy water from them and then go away from them. As for their next encounter, Moab, the Lord gave similar instructions. Moab was the descendants of Lot and they were related by blood also.
Going in circles means that we are always operating in familiar environments. One of the most familiar places could be our family. In fear of them, or what they have to say about us, we are bound to stay the same without offending them. Jesus said that our enemies could be our own family members. In order to come out of the rut, we must make peace with them and go on. The expectation of parents, the jealousy of siblings and the family dynamics are all there to prevent us from going the direction the Lord wants us to go. One example is when one family member feels God’s call to go into the mission field, the rest of the family may oppose it to protect that member. Choosing family or the Lord is very difficult and that may cause us to go around in circles.
How is your relationship with your family members? Are you at peace with them or is there any matter yet to be settled? If you do not come out of such entanglement, you can never advance and do God’s will. Are you tired of going to the same places and doing the same things again and again? God is a creative God, He can lead you out of this rut. Commit you life to Him and He can show you what He has for you.
Ps 43:1-5 Deut 2:1-3:29 Luke 6:12-38 Prov 11:27