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Israel’s time in the wilderness wasn’t meant to last 40 years. It lasted 40 years because of their rebellious hearts. In response to the report from the majority of the spies, whom Moses sent to scout the Promised Land, the people of Israel refused to believe God’s promise.
As a result, “The Lord responded…’none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, will ever see the land I swore to give their fathers’” (Num. 14:20, 22).
Fast-forward thousands of years, and we see Jesus in the wilderness. And just like Israel, Jesus was led there. While in the wilderness, rather than rebel against God, Jesus obeys him and emerges ready to launch his ministry (Matt. 4).
The wilderness is something that we all have experienced. Wilderness seasons make us feel as though we’ve been driven out to the middle of nowhere and the pleasures and comfort of life have vanished. In the wilderness, every step feels like a struggle as God seems to be far away.
In both of these wilderness accounts, there are at least three lessons for us to remember.
First, the wilderness is part of God’s plan. The wilderness is not the destination, but part of the journey God has for us. Second, the wilderness acts as a spiritual thermometer that takes your spiritual temperature. The wilderness has a way of revealing either how far away you are from God or how close you are to God. Third, what you remember in the wilderness will either prevent you from or push you towards the promises of God.
Most of the older generation of Israel chose to remember a distorted reality in Egypt. Rather than pressing into the presence, power, and promises of God, they chose to remember their life under an oppressive and violent regime as better.
Jesus, on the other hand, chose to remember to live by God’s word, trust God’s faithfulness, and worship and serve God alone.
Maybe you find yourself in a wilderness season where every day seems to be a struggle and God seems to be distant. But even when God feels distant, we must remember that he will never leave nor forsake his children.
If you are in a season of wilderness journeying, how are you allowing it to either prevent you from God’s promises or push you towards his promises?
How can you journey with others through this wilderness right now?
We would like to thank Billy Graham Center for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://www.billygrahamcenter.com