Exodus 13:18- But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea; the sons of Israel went up in battle array (orderly ranks, marching formation) out of the land of Egypt. NKJV
The wilderness is pictured as dry and barren land. But there are many types of wilderness in scripture and worldwide. A wilderness can have mountains, forests, or even marshlands, depending on the location of the terrain. But it is definitely agreed that the wilderness is typically sparsely populated. Therefore, spiritually when we think of the wilderness, we tend to think of being in a time of testing, temptation, or even discouragement. It is a time when believers feel they are under a direct attack from the enemy. During this time, many people claim to struggle just to make it from day to day! But there is great news of great wonders that happen only in the wilderness.
The psalmist wrote:
You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance. They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,Psalm 65:11-12 NKJV
and the little hills rejoice on every side.
God’s paths drip with abundance, and that abundance drops on the pastures of the wilderness. That’s a mind-blowing analogy. The wilderness has always been painted as a desolate place, but the word of God says that He drops abundance on the pastures of the wilderness. Let’s explore how.
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba.Genesis 21:14 NKJV
Hagar wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba after Abraham and Sarah cast her out of the camp with Ishmael. After drinking all the water, she was provided, she walked away from her son and began to cry. Her life had changed in 24 hours. She had gone from being Abraham’s concubine, bearer of his firstborn, to an outcast. Where she was once treated like royalty, with plenty to eat and others to do her bidding, she was alone, desperate, and without hope! But in the Wilderness of Beersheba, she had an encounter with God. God promised her that He would make a great nation of her son Ishmael and then showed her a well. She and Ishmael went on to live in the Wilderness of Paran; he became an archer and married to begin that nation. Wonderful things happen in the wilderness when we trust God!
And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand1 Samuel 23:14 NKJV
David found the wilderness to be a place of refuge. Saul looked for him daily, but God hid David in the wilderness. When the leaders of Ziph shared David’s location with Saul, David escaped to the wilderness of Moan. When Saul found him there and surrounded him to destroy him, a messenger came bearing news that the Philistines had entered the land. Saul rushed away, and David and his men were spared, and they called the place a “Rock of Escape.” There will undoubtedly be times in the wilderness that are full of trouble and opposition, but when we trust God, He will make a way of escape for us!
The children of Israel spent a lot of time in the wilderness. As they left Egypt, they moved through the Wilderness of Shur.
So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.Exodus 15:22 NKJV
While traveling through the Wilderness of Shur, they couldn’t find water. Finally, after three days, they found the waters of Marah. But those waters were bitter. It’s not surprising to me, nor do I miss the irony of how the wilderness experience can cause the waters to become bitter. But bitter waters did not cause God to move His hand from the people of Israel. No! It was just the opposite. He moved His hand on that water, and it became sweet as Moses tossed a tree into it! The tree of life has a way of making every bitter thing sweet! That’s the gospel truth!
And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt.Exodus 16:1 NKJV
Shortly after their experience at the Wilderness of Shur, they ended up in the Wilderness of Sin. Complaining was on the menu. They weren’t able to find fruit in the wilderness or enough meat in the wilderness. Lack was all they saw, and so they complained in the wilderness. But God is a longsuffering, God. He puts up with us, to a certain extent, while we are in the wilderness. God began to provide manna from on high for them. He did so until they entered the Promised Land. Although they railed at Him and His servants Moses and Aaron, God took care of them.
Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.2 Chronicles 20:16 NKJV
Jehosophat was being threatened by the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir. But Jehosophat sought God. God told him that his enemies were at the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel and that he was to go out against. But God told him something more extraordinary.
You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”2 Chronicles 20:17 NKJV
Jehosophat may have had enemies in the wilderness, but he also had God. God told Jehosophat to position himself, to stand still and see God’s deliverance! In the wilderness!
What have we learned about the wilderness? God is with us in the wilderness when we feel discouraged and alone like Hagar did! He has a plan for our life, and being thrown into the wilderness doesn’t change it. Keep looking for Him in the wilderness!
We have seen that the wilderness can be a place of refuge and deliverance! David wasn’t living in the palace, he was hiding in the wilderness, but God had his back! And God had his heart! I wrote a blog years ago about God having our back and wanting our hearts! (Check it out!) The wilderness doesn’t have to be scary, not when you know the Lord. Let your wilderness be a place of refuge!
We saw that the wilderness could cause bitterness to spring up in our hearts! But we want the Living Water of God springing up in our hearts, not bitterness. If you notice it trying to set in because you are in the wilderness, reach for the tree of life that turns bitter water into sweet water.
Also, we realize that being in the wilderness can cause us to complain. God doesn’t like it when we complain. We must repent and ask Him to teach us how to be grateful and not complainers. He provided for them in the wilderness and will provide for us!
Lastly, we saw that there are enemies in the wilderness. However, like Jehosophat, we need to seek God when the enemies of our souls try to attack in the wilderness. He will say to us, “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”!
Some blogs are easier to write than others. Some blogs minister to me before they are ever posted. Such was this blog. I needed a reminder that while I may be in the wilderness, God is with me, and great things have happened in the wilderness! Wonderful Jesus!