In the wilderness



Deut. 8: 2, ‘’ And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. “

The Israelites were enslaved in the land of Egypt for around four hundred years. God heard their cry when oppressed by the Egyptians, and just as He promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He lead them out into the promised land. He raised up a leader to lead them out of slavery. But before giving them the promised land of Canaan, God’s people went through a journey of wilderness for about forty years. He could have directly given them the inheritance but He did not. He had to prepare them and qualify them to inherit the promises of God. We all have a time of wilderness, a time between the time we set our first steps into the faith life and the final promised destination. It’s a time of crying out to God ; a time when we are unable to see any signs of the promised destination ; a time of silence from God : a time when we can easily be ensnared by our fleshy mind. Moses wrote about three purposes related to the wilderness :

  1. To humble them
  2. To test them
  3. To know what was in their heart – Whether they would keep His commandments or not.
  1. To humble them : 8:3,’’ So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” Ex.16 speaks about how the Israelites murmured for food on the 15th day of the 2nd month after departing from Egypt. Till then, the provisions they had brought from Egypt might have sustained them but then,  all that might have been over. God surely knew all this. He could have provided for them even before their provision was over. But He allowed them to hunger. They had faced oppression in Egypt but had never faced hunger there. Hunger humbled them. They realized that wilderness was not bed of roses. God heard their murmuring and rained bread from heaven. But more than the physical bread, He made them understand about the spiritual bread of his Word which nourished their inner man. God humbled His people by allowing hunger, but soon He Himself fed them with His unceasing and unfailing manna. Manna was not a luxurious feast with many dishes, but was the same small round thing which rained every day. There was no way that the Israelites could be satisfied with that. And it was not that God could not provide them a feast with many choices every day. But God humbled them by teaching them contentment. Phil.4:11-12, ‘’Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to [d]be abased, and I know how to [e]abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. ‘’ Apostle Paul was a rich man, but after he set out his journey to serve Christ, he faced hunger and also abundance. And in all situations, through Christ he learnt to be content. Contentment does away with all murmurings and complaining. It chops off the unwanted desires and aspirations. God humbles us by teaching contentment by allowing certain lacks in this wilderness.  In other words, wilderness witnesses hunger and also His divine, needed and timely provisions, which inculcates contentment within us.
  2. To test them : As always heard, only a tested life can be trusted. God knows what’s in a heart without testing. But yet He tests lives, not for Himself, but to let the concerned person know about God’s justice. Israelites were tested in the wilderness. Their faith was tested again and again. And they murmured and rebelled again and again. God’s wrath destroyed them again and again. When we read this, we see God’s justice. And we are warned by same. Testing manifested His justice. On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb who went through the same tests came out refined and undestroyed. Testing refines our lives to make us capable to handle His promise in the right way. Faith of Joshua and Caleb were refined in such a way that they never gave up fighting against the giants of Canaan till the last point. They trusted God and saw the victory in faith. Rev.3:18 says about the church of Laodicea counselled to buy gold tried in the fire which would make them rich. Testing instills increased faith in our hearts which makes us spiritually rich. And our purification equips us with His divine nature to handle His promises in His way for His glory.
  3. To know what was in their heart – Whether they would keep His commandments or not. God has always focused on obedience. Jesus said that those who love Him would obey His commandments. Obedience is consequence of love. God lets His people to go through a wilderness to see the love they have for Him. One of the commandments of God is to love Him with all our heart and mind. Doing anything without loving Him would be half obedience. In this wilderness, our love for God is being tested through our obedience. Soon after taking water baptism, Jesus was driven into a wilderness by the Spirit of the Lord, where He spent forty days fasting. Soon the devil came to test Him, but the Lord resisted the temptations with His Word and refused to sin. Obedience is not just doing things He wants, but also discerning and resisting every temptation that comes our way. Jesus loved the heavenly Father and expressed His love by complete obedience. Wilderness is a place where temptations come across the most. Its easy to be mislead here, unless we cleave to the Lord. The Lord’s presence continuously guided His people in these forty years by being a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. This presence is still available to each of us, if we seek and cleave to the same.

 God allowed His people to inherit the promised land of Canaan after the forty years of wilderness, which humbled, tested and equipped His people with love and obedience to handle the inheritance in the right way. Wilderness might be physically  and mentally tiring, if we do not feed our inner man with the manna of His Word . It might mislead us, if we do not cleave to His presence. It might destroy us, if we do not choose to humble and sanctify our hearts. Thus far He brought us. Let us not give up.  He will surely prove His faithfulness and loving mercy . He will open our inner eyes to behold His overwhelming presence, protection, provision and peace time and again to sustain us till we see our glorious Lord.

God bless us all

(http://thebrokenbread.wordpress.com/)

 

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