Wilderness

The journey of all journeys: from Egypt to the Promised Land, a journey through the wilderness.
This is the history of a people, a nation chosen by the Lord God because He loved them, chosen to be the people who would bring the Savior to a world that had itself become a wilderness. It was once a garden, a garden with a snake hiding in it. By stealth and untruth the serpent deceived the population of Eden by locating a hunger in the hearts of Adam and his wife, and feeding that hunger with poison. Cast out of the Garden, the perfect world became a wilderness for them and all their children.

Through God’s covenants with people the nation of Israel became the focus of heaven on earth. They journeyed from

  • slavery to freedom,
  • hopelessness to promise, and
  • from a pagan environment to the worship of Jehovah.

History for Israel is a metaphor for us.
We are on a journey

  • from inability as an infant to multiple abilities as an adult,
  • from  illiterate child to a reading and writing communicator,
  • from apprentice to craftsman,
  • from student to graduate, and
  • from novice to effective practitioner.

This journey isn’t easy and neither is it optional. It is in the wilderness that we “make something of ourselves.”

Or, do we?

Israel was not in the wilderness alone.
They had a tabernacle at the center of their camp. Over that tabernacle a cloud hovered, brilliant and reflective by day, never lost in the sun, and flaming at night, never even threatened by the darkness. The cloud was the manifest presence of God. When the cloud moved, they moved. When it rested, they rested.

For us, Jesus is our guiding friend, our bright hope by day and our flaming faith by night.
Today we continue the journey.

  • Our wilderness may be a desert, but we have a spring of Living Water bubbling inside.
  • It may be a mountainous trek, but we have someone breaking the trail for us.
  • If they dare confront us, seas will divide and rivers will roll back at the Word of the Lord.
  • Dangers abound in the wilderness, but angels, armed to their spiritual teeth, camp all around us.

He has extracted us from slavery, baptized us through the sea, fed us from heaven, and sweetened the bitter wilderness waters with a tree called Calvary.

Why? Because we are children of His promise, the holy nation camped in peace with Jesus at the center, the travelers from grief to grace with an unbreakable promise beckoning to us toward the wilderness horizon.

Scriptures:
Numbers 9:15-23
On the day the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant; and from evening until morning it was over the tabernacle, having the appearance of fire. It was always so: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, then the Israelites would set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the Israelites would camp. At the command of the Lord the Israelites would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they would remain in camp. … Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, resting upon it, the Israelites would remain in camp and would not set out; but when it lifted they would set out. At the command of the Lord they would camp, and at the command of the Lord they would set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.
Isaiah 40:3-5 NIV
A voice of one calling:” In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Psalm 105:37-45 NIV
He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered. Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them. He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night. They asked, and he brought them quail and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert. For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham. He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for — that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws.
Hebrews 11:29-30 NIV
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
John 16:33 NKJV
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the journey continues today. Thank you for the lighted path and for the steady lamp that guides each step. Whatever awaits me this day in my trek through the wilderness of these moments, be it an enemy, a storm, a river, a trial, an ocean, or even shifting sand lurking in my path, You, Lord Jesus, are the master of it. Whatever it may be, it comes from this fallen world and You said You overcame the world. So, in You I have peace today, peace in the wilderness. Amen.

Song:
I’ll Go where You Want Me to Go
Words and Music: Mary Brown

1. It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front,
My Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice He calls,
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.

Refrain:
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
O’er mountain, or plain, or sea;
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord,
I’ll be what You want me to be.

2. Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin,
Some wand’rer whom I should seek;
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my guide,
Though dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo Thy message sweet,
I’ll say what You want me to say.

Refrain

3. There’s surely somewhere a lowly place,
In earth’s harvest fields so white,
Where I may labor through life’s short day,
For Jesus the Crucified;
So trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

For more on thriving in the wilderness go to: “Candles in the Desert.” 

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