The desert

joshua-tree-national-park-74399_640Isaiah 48:21: They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.

Going through the desert on your own is like a death sentence. Apart for the severely harsh weather; there are the evil people seeking to prey on the innocent, the unsuspecting.

The desert (the extreme of it) is miles upon miles of nothing, no life, no one to meet along the way to offer you help or fellowship. It is unpredictable in its vastness. It has the surplus of sand, something that does not help your movement, if you want to get somewhere fast. It tries your patience.

The sand can irritate you, get into your hair, your nose, it can affect your breathing. Multiply that with the millions of people that Moses led through the wilderness and you will conclude that it could only have been the height of miracle by God to take them through the wilderness, not for a day or a month but for forty long years.

He took them through to fulfill his will over their life. The same way he will take you through whatever desert experience to you are in now to your Promised Land. Your Promised Land is on the other side of your desert experience.

Jesus also was in the wilderness for a period of forty days (Luke 4:1-2). It was a place of deprivation, and “stagnation.” But he came out on the other side in power, in a new level of his divine expression.

The earth is going through its “wilderness” experience. But there is the promise of a new heaven and a new earth after this age is over. Though God seems to be hiding in the wilderness, and the devil seems to be having a field’s day, yet the final note will be of victory for you.

In the wilderness where the children of Israel passed through, God said that he allowed them to face hunger so that they may learn that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Sustenance is found in the words of God from which emanates everything we need. It is clear in the wilderness that the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of what he can get by the sweat of his brow (Luke 12:15) (the desert will yield nothing to you in return for your self-effort, only faith-effort). In the wilderness nothing works except what God is working, nothing moves except at the behest of God, nothing last except by the miracle of God.

Elijah also experienced a time of “wilderness” while there came the judgment of drought on the children of Israel. God was his sustainer while the rest of Israel was in the throes of agony and starvation, not from siege from foreign armies but by the heaven closing up as a judgment of God because they flirted with foreign gods (1Kings 17).

But Elijah was supernaturally provided for by God. At that time, he did not live but by the word of God in a literal sense. It was the time of drought but he had food coming to him twice a day, on the beak of flying birds.

Because of his needing God for provision which was promised to come to him at a specified place, he was limited in his options of places to be. He had to be there besides the stream mentioned by God where the birds commanded by God brought the food. He had to put his sense of adventure under wraps, put his personal plan on hold, stop gallivanting all over the place and stay put. If he is not there then he cannot be sustained; but is assured of starvation.

When the river dried up, the word of God came to him that he should go to the house of a widow whom God had commanded to sustain him. In reality he was sustained because he heard and acted on the word of God, as the rest of the nation, were overwhelmed by the drought for over three years (1Kings 18:1).

The desert/wilderness contracts starkly with the garden that God set up for man in Eden (Genesis 2-3). The garden had four streams, it had trees in all manner of shapes and sizes, scintillating fruits, dense aromas that make your nose come alive, there is lightness in the heart and friendliness in the air.

There was the harmony between man and other creatures. Man was a cultivator and not a predator, the weather was pristine. It was heaven on earth; it was pleasure unlimited. That is the best of God for him at that time, but man chose something else, he chose to stand apart from God in independence, rejecting his way. That was the beginning of struggle, the beginning of dryness, of hard existence.

But, the desert offers an opportunity. It offered the opportunity to hunger and thirst for God, and the bible says those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6). David says: as the deer pants for the water brooks so my soul longs after you, when will I come to appear before God (Psalm 42:1-2)?

The desert offered an opportunity to learn dependence on God. What option do you think the children of Israel had except to follow God? Otherwise they would have died off in the wilderness, the whole bunch of them. That journey in the wilderness would have been impossible without the workings of God. There was the supernatural rock in the wilderness which followed them from which the whole of the camp got water (1Corinthians 10:4).

The importance of having a source of water to meet our needs is mostly appreciated by those who live in the arid regions of the earth. They have to dig deep to get water. In this world sometimes that is what we need. We need to go deep; away from the surface level existence. In the desert, if you are not deep, then you are empty.

That is the journey of faith, the journey to the deep. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were arid dwellers. They needed to dig wells to sustain their animals. It was a big deal for them, getting wells up and running, because they were shepherds responsible for the sheep.

So the spiritual leaders in our time have the responsibility amidst the confusion of the desert of the world to dig deep in their relationship with God to bring to the sheep under their care the refreshing waters. They need to feed the sheep and not feed on the sheep; they need to lead them besides still waters, restore their soul (Psalm 23), meet their need for knowledge and understanding.

As it is written: God will give to the sheep, shepherds after his own heart, who will feed them with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15); and in the wilderness of this world their experience will be of Eden.

 

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3 thoughts on “The desert

  1. “As it is written: God will give to the sheep, shepherds after his own heart, who will feed them with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15); and in the wilderness of this world their experience will be of Eden.”

    And you are one of them. You’ll never know until we all meet the Lord, just what this page means to me right now. God bless you, Brother.

    Like

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