Wilderness journeys were not uncommon in the Scriptures. What follows is a brief listing of some persons in which God allowed to experience such journeys to further His purposes in and through them: Moses, Hagar, untrusting Hebrew people rescued from Egypt (Egypt for them was another type of wilderness for 400 years), Elijah, Jonah, Job, and Jesus.
Israelites 40 years of Wilderness: I simply want to focus on Moses and the Israelites briefly here. God led the Israelites through the vast and severe wilderness from Sinai to Kadesh, being the edge of the sumptuous Promised Land. From there Moses sent spies, one from each of the 12 tribes, to explore the land of Canaan. These spies came back with flattering descriptions and extravagant examples of its fruitfulness.
However, ten of the 12 spies, choose against the initiation of hostility in the land because of the enormous size of the natives of Canaan, and fortified cities. It was a testimony of catastrophe, with absolutely no trust in God’s promise. In spite of that, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought back a different accounting altogether full of trust and encouragement. (Numbers 13-14)
It seems that this wilderness was a time of limited food and water sources; God provided an abundance of bare necessities. It was a test of “Whom Do You Trust?” Also, it was a time of purifying the Israelites of that initial faithless generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. Even at the end of the journey Moses was not to see the Promised Land because of his disobedience and anger toward God’s directives. (Though his anger was first against grumbling people, the action was rebellion).
The Temptation of Jesus:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” (Matthew 4:1-11)
The Holy Spirit selected this harsh wilderness as the site where this campaign with the evil one would decide the Victor. In this ordained wilderness event; it was a place of isolation, reflection, nothing to distract such as comforts of the world. There loneliness and hunger were the chosen challenges. The unpleasant and unprotected cold nights and hot days, plus the typical beasts and reptiles of this desert place was chosen to heighten the “temptations” of our LORD Jesus. His character, identity, and faithfulness to His Heavenly Father were to be displayed before Satan and the entire demonic world gathered in concert. Jesus, right there, became the Victor.
We find in Scripture many reasons persons find themselves in a wilderness journey. Some for protection from a perceived threat, some are allowed by God as punishment, time of conviction, or an intense challenge.
When God wants to test or strengthen a person’s trust in Him, He often allows a moment of crisis in order for God to give individuals, groups, or nations the choice whether or not to trust Him; He presents them with a moment of crisis, while removing all other sources of rescue. The wilderness is about a departure from normal life; that’s the point. It is not the usual; not the “norm”.
Sometimes we are in a “wilderness journey”; at least it feels like one. Some would say that 2020 has been a wilderness journey; others might say that we may just be at the edge of that journey.
Wilderness journey: That’s where it seems that the devil throws all he has at us (most of us haven’t felt the whole wrath of Satan, like maybe Job did, and we know Jesus did). One thing we must understand; if we are in it and God has not removed it, or moved us from it, He has allowed it to somehow better us.
We need Jesus’ perspective on the wilderness. To Him it meant . . . get closer to the Father! That’s where we need to be in our wilderness journey! Trust God! Beloved, let’s all get closer to the Father and His Word, now and throughout 2021.
Happy New Year! Pray On