Wilderness Experience

Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™  I AM Ministries

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Normal I AM

Monday, October 24, 2016

Wilderness Experience

When John the Baptist first began to preach, he chose to do it in the wilderness (Matthew 3:1). His venue choice seems at first to be almost a suicidal career move. What sane person would try to lure people to a remote desert location when a city such as Jerusalem offered easy access and comfort? The desert offers no infrastructure for a synagogue or church, whereas the major cities were bastions of religion and the necessary synagogues. Jerusalem seemed to be an obvious choice for a ministry because it was home to God’s Temple. Nevertheless, as He often does, God juxtaposed man’s logic with His logic for His glory. We can also see how God makes frequent use of wilderness areas, whereas we tend to avoid them.

Although classified as desert territory, the area where John preached was not totally uninhabited. Six cities and their villages existed there, including Hebron, where John the Baptist was born. This part of the country was not as densely populated as other regions and lacked the bountiful fields and productive vineyards that existed in other parts of Israel. Yet God decided John should start his business of preaching in this desert land in Judea.

John preached the Word of the LORD, which had reached him despite his physical remoteness. God provides us with an important lesson: no place is so far removed as to isolate us from His message and power. If God wishes to bring us His Word, He will find us whether we are surrounded by others or isolated in the wilderness. In John’s case, it probably allowed him to focus on God’s message of repentance and redemption. In Jerusalem, he would have wasted much of his time dealing with skeptical and antagonistic Pharisees.

Wilderness locations often provide the ideal place to find God. It was not unusual for God’s children to enjoy some of their most pleasant encounters and communion with God while they were withdrawn from the hustle and bustle of the world. David wrote the 63rd Psalm in this same Judean wilderness, which extols his precious communion with God. Even today, many people find it easier to connect with God when visiting an isolated natural setting in the wilderness.

Our Christian heritage had important beginnings in the wilderness. The Law was given to Moses in the desert wilderness, one of the defining moments of the Old Testament. The message is that God considered it normal to give Moses the Ten Commandments in the middle of the desert. Here, with John, we see the New Testament was first found in a desert land. Even as he preached the Word of the LORD, the Word of the LORD in the flesh, Jesus Christ Himself (John 1:1), came to John.

With the arrival of Jesus, we again see how God often reverses man’s logic. John was a priest descended from Aaron and the Levites, yet we see him preaching in the wilderness. We never read of him preaching in the temple as his fathers did. Jesus, who was not descended from the line of Aaron and the Levite priests, was often found in the temple preaching with full authority, just as it was foretold (Malachi 3:1). God’s clear message was that Christ’s eternal priesthood was to replace that of Aaron and send the obsolete priesthood into a spiritual wilderness.

When God sent us Jesus, He not only reversed man’s logic, He reversed the prevailing spiritual paradigm. Before Jesus, spirituality consisted of man’s quest to find God, be it in the city or the wilderness. Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is now God’s quest to find man. He is looking for those who have a heart for His Son and the redemption He brings.

When we think of a desert wilderness, our first thoughts often question how the isolated setting could be productive. It doesn’t seem normal to link empty wilderness and the propagation of God’s Holy Word. Yet God uses the wilderness to show us His infinite power. It is normal for Him to take just a little and to multiply it many-fold. The vast emptiness of a wilderness is not an obstacle for the power of God as it would be for us.

If God has you in a wilderness experience in your life, know He has the power to bring about His will despite the apparent barrenness and emptiness. In fact, He may be closer at hand than you ever imagined. He is ready to use you if you will turn to Him and seek Him. Are you ready to experience the power of a wilderness experience with God? The wilderness you feel inside may be a sign He is about to display His awesome power.

Jeff Myers
A servant of Jesus Christ


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