“…To day if ye will hear His voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My ways: Unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest.” Psalms 95:7-11.
There are many things that happen in the wilderness. What is it God is wanting to show us in the wilderness? The definition of wilderness is a wild or uncultivated state or a confusing multitude or mass . Why didn’t God lead the Israelites straight through the land of the Philistines (enemy territory) once He delivered them from Egypt? “…God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:” Exodus 13:17. What would you have done when you saw the war? Would you have returned to Egypt?
How many of us today see the difficulties and run back into the world after God delivers us from our bondage? I guess that would depend on if we followed the Lord to the wilderness or try to take the shortcut through the land of the Philistines. Once we are delivered out of our bondage, we are led to the wilderness. We are led to that wild and uncultivated state where we realize our true condition. The confusing mass we see is not where God led us, it is us. We, in our natural unredeemed state, are what makes up the wilderness. This is the place where we are loosed from our bondage but remain fearful of the freedom. This is also the place where God feeds us our manna, our daily portion. The wilderness is the place where we learn to know and trust God. Our faith holds strong to the atoning Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who redeemed us to God, the Father. We know our Covenant will not fail but we are not sure if we will fail…then we do. We fall down in the wilderness.
When we fall down in this wilderness we have two options, harden our hearts or learn the ways of God. These are the two options which determine our stay in the wilderness. A hardened heart will turn back to the world and find their Aaron to build their golden calf (Exodus 32), while others will learn the ways of God. It has often been said it took a short period to get Moses out of Egypt but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Moses.
It isn’t until we learn God’s ways in the wilderness and trust God to take us through the difficulties that we are able to rest in God’s peace. Many in the church today have built themselves a golden calf and turned their hearts back to the world. They have hardened their hearts to God’s plan of Salvation and sanctification, created their own path and never find rest in the Lord. Egypt’s yoke has been replaced by religions yoke.
However, there is something else that happens in the wilderness. Something very special. “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:4-7.
If we get lost in the wilderness, Jesus will find us, put us on His shoulders and rejoices. True repentance is an occasion of rejoicing for the Lord and deliverance for the lost. Praise the Lord for taking us through the wilderness! – Donna Clark Warren