54 Then Jesus no longer walked openly amongst the Jews, but He went into the country, to a city called Ephraim, and He remained there with the disciples.
Ephraim means ‘double fruitfulness’
It is a wise person who knows when it is right to retreat and also when it is right to press on to face difficult times and circumstances. A little while ago we were climbing quite a steep hill. When we were about half way up one of us began to feel sick due to the quick pace at which we had set off. At that point we decided that it would not be wise to carry on climbing, but it would be better to retreat and go back down the hill. Continuing would most likely have increased the feeling of being sick, resulting in having further to retrace our steps.
Jesus knew that He was facing trouble from the Jews, especially the Sanhedrin who were plotting how they might kill Him. Therefore, knowing that it was not the right time for Him to go to the cross, Jesus decided to retreat and go to a place called Ephraim
Ephraim was also the second son of Joseph, and was born to him when he was in Egypt.
In the settlement of the land the area of Ephraim covered an area stretching from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the River Jordan in the east.
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary Ephraim was a city that was north east of Jerusalem overlooking the Jordan valley. It was to this city that Jesus knew that it was wise for Him to retreat.
It was about a day’s journey from Jerusalem, which is about twenty miles.
Putting some distance for ourselves from others in difficult circumstances may be necessary on a number of occasions during our life.
There is a right time in which to squarely face hard times. We need to know the appropriate time for advancement and retreating. To advance when we should retreat has no value. It may show courage, and may be applauded by others, but advancement has no merit if God would have us retreat to be with Him.
David knew the leading and guiding of God, and penned these words: He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams – Psalm 23.2 (NLT). In other words God took him to a place of retreat and rest so that he could be renewed in his spirit.
Later in the same Psalm David wrote: You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings – Psalm 23.5 (NLT). In this God was leading him to come face to face with his enemies, those who opposed Him.
Jesus went to Ephraim to avoid being prematurely killed by the Jews; He went to Ephraim to prepare Himself to face the enemy, whom He alone could destroy.
May the Holy Spirit guide us to have the wisdom to know the Father’s time for us to retreat and His time for us to advance in the power of His might.