Human EXPERIENCE can definitely supplement Divine GUIDANCE
February 12 Bible Reading: Numbers Chapters 10-12
Now Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, "We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, 'I will give it to you.' Come with us, and we will treat you well; for the Lord has promised good things to Israel." And he said to him, "I will not go, but I will depart to my own land and to my relatives." So Moses said, "Please do not leave, inasmuch as you know how we are to camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes. And it shall be, if you go with us--indeed it shall be--that whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same we will do to you." (Num. 10:29-32)
It is not uncommon in the Bible for one person to be called by two or more names, so Jethro, who was the priest of Midian and the father-in-law of Moses (Exo. 3:1), was also referred to as Reuel, the Midianite (see v. 29; Exo. 2:18). The above passage refers to an invitation that Moses extends to his brother-in-law Hobab just before they were about to depart from Sinai to The Promised Land. It appears that Hobab seems to have been familiar with the deserts of Sinai (v. 31) and so Moses asked him to join the Israelites and promised him that God would bless him for it (vv. 29, 32). Hobab apparently knew the terrain and could provide a valuable service for the Israelites.
Though it does not indicate clearly in this passage if Hobab accepted this invitation from Moses, many Bible scholars are of the opinion that he finally accompanied the Israelites in their onward journey as his name is mentioned later in the book of Judges at least a couple of times (Judg. 1:16; 4:11). In this example of Old Testament evangelism, Hobab joined in the destiny of Israel just as Ruth the Moabitess would later do the same (see Ruth 2). Joining Israel was not just a change of location; it involved a radical transformation of one’s life and purpose so that it was centered on the living God!
So, the question arises: does Moses really need human experience to guide the Israelites in their onward life journey if God was already guiding them? Many Bible interpreters actually believe that this invitation showed a lack of faith on Moses’ part; since God was already guiding His people so far (see 9:18). However, there is a different view held by the Bible scholar Kurtz, who has suggested the following in this matter: "The pillar of cloud determined the general route to be taken, the place of encampment, and the length of tarry in each location; yet human prudence was by no means precluded with respect to arranging the encampment so as to combine most advantageously the circumstances of water, pasture, shelter, supply of fuel. In all these particulars, Hobab’s experience, and knowledge of the desert, would be exceedingly useful as supplementary to the guidance of the cloud". So, let us understand that divine guidance does not exclude human help.
The way that Moses led Israel through the wilderness serves as an instructive model for us as we seek guidance in today’s complex world. Moses had the fiery cloud, the tablets of stone, the Law, and other direct communications from God as his primary means of guidance, and he continued to follow the fiery cloud of the Lord’s presence (10:34; compare 9:15–23). However, Moses realized the value of human resources, judgment and wisdom—such as Hobab’s knowledge of the wilderness and invited Hobab to act as his guide. It is possible that Hobab also assisted in the everyday problems of a people who were not accustomed to wilderness life. Thus, Moses used a combination of human and divine guidance to lead Israel to the Promised Land!
Let’s understand that Hobab’s wisdom did not replace God’s leading, but rather demonstrated that God used a variety of ways to lead His people—sometimes through a fiery cloud, just as often through people to whom He has given unique abilities. Thus as we seek guidance today, we need to pay attention to divine revelation—particularly to the Bible, God’s written Word—but we also need to recruit, listen to, and follow those whom God has gifted with special insight and leadership.