Exodus 3:1 – Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.”
In this instance, a wilderness is a place or time through which a Christian passes as he draws nearer to God. Each one’s wilderness will be different depending on life’s circumstances. There are biblical principles that, when applied, can lead to your wilderness training taking you from bondage to freedom, darkness to light, and from the desert to your Promised Land!
So, what does it feel like? It’s lonely. Friends and family seem distant. There are no crutches or kudos – no fame, no glory, no pats on the back, no support system, no adoring crowds. There are no rewards. No one sees or cares or gives feedback for doing good works. There is no time limit. You never know how long it will last. The more you kick, scream, moan or complain, the longer it lasts.
Mentally, there is confusion, frustration, fear, suspicion, discouragement and anger. Things dry up and blow away. Fruit of your work is gone. God seems gone. You don’t know what hit you. Ready to sign up now?
Ironically, God usually chooses to start a wilderness journey right on the heels of a victory. You start praying: What happened God? I thought I was doing good work for you. I know I’m not in sin. I know I did not disconnect from you. So, God, what are you doing?
It’s scary. It’s silent. Fear sets in. Silence and loneliness are what we spend our time avoiding. We fear being left behind. We set up elaborate structures for self-protection. We title ourselves with names of importance and standing. We make lists of organizations we’ve joined all to feel important and not to be left alone. But in the wilderness, circumstances strip us of worldly baggage, crutches, false glory, pride and, especially, self-delusion.
But didn’t we ask God to take us higher, to new levels of intimacy with Him? Didn’t we ask Him to purify us, purify our motives, to cleanse us of any hidden sin? Yeah, we did. But we didn’t expect this . . . wilderness training! God, what were you thinking???
Here’s the good news! In every wilderness there is a place of life-changing encounter – a marvelous, sudden discovery – a place to receive a word from the Lord – a place of strengthening. After this, you go from asking what is there FOR me to what do you desire OF me? Our understanding of this time is crucial to meeting our destiny, our Promised Land.
What it is NOT:
- Not punishment. God is not displeased with you. You didn’t miss Him
- Not abandonment. God is not mad nor has He left you
- Not being “shelved” till God needs you
- Not a place of defeat. You are a winner
What it IS:
Our text Exodus 2-3 tells us it can be:
- A Place of Provision. Moses learned contentment. God gave him a job, a wife, a family.
- A Place of Intimacy with God. Moses got an “and suddenly” in the attention-getting wake up of the burning bush. There’s a bush in your future. Moses heard God and so will you.
- A Place of Purpose. God’s will and purpose for you are defined. God said to Moses and will say to you:
- I will lead you to the land of healing
- I will destroy your enemies
- I will give you favor
- I will be WITH you
- A Place of Purifying. Purifying involves testing! Testing what?
- What’s in your heart
- Character: How much do you pretend?
- Integrity: Will you use the anointing to build your own following?
- Maturity: Will you produce fruit of the Spirit?
- Submission: Will you accept daily needs, not daily wants?
- A Place of Preparation. God is not going to waste time.
- The wilderness strips the flesh from the spirit
- The wilderness teaches us to only do what He says
- The wilderness removes our dependence of walking by sight and teaches walking by faith
- The wilderness trains us to walk in power and glory. And God can’t give that to just anybody!
Let’s look at some wilderness training grads:
- Moses – delivered all of Israel from bondage
- Elijah – confronted Jezebel
- John the Baptist – came out of the wilderness to receive Jesus
- Paul – did 3 years in the desert where he was taught by the Spirit. Then wrote most of the New Testament
- John – exiled to Patmos. There he saw a new heaven and a new earth
- A Place of Revelation.
- Moses heard “I Am”
- John the Baptist welcomed the Messiah
- Paul was taught the mysteries of the New Testament
- John saw as no man has seen
So, the big question – is the wilderness training necessary? Answer for yourself:
- When God gets ready to reveal Himself, we will be able to easily turn aside from the things of this world
- Flesh can’t be cast out, we must deal with it. He brings our own particular wilderness so WE can know what’s in our heart
- Those who only see the hardships of the wilderness will die in their own wilderness
- Those who keep they eyes on the Promiser will come through as obedient, sanctified warriors –
- Ready to take their Promised Land
- Ready to do end-time exploits
- Ready to act on God’s Word
- Ready to receive the anointing to do God’s work
And leaning in total dependence on God – broken, molded, but filled with Spirit and Power.