A Voice In The Wilderness

A great article from OneForIsrael.com – Be sure to check them out for other great articles.


A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS

The Hebrew for desert is מדבר. The Hebrew for speaking is מדבר. Spot the difference? There isn’t any when you see it written down – it’s from the same word root. The word for desert is pronounced “midbar” and the word speaking is pronounced “medaber” but perhaps it is no coincidence that the two overlap, for God often speaks in the desert.

I loved the fact that the book of Numbers is called “In the desert” or “B’Midbar” in the Hebrew Bible. It doesn’t often fill Western believers with joy to read these things in the Torah – it can seem kinda dry, like the desert, but if we are willing to stop, to still our souls, to wait and to listen, we can hear the beautiful voice of God in the dryest of places.

Sometimes our most powerful experiences and connections with God are in desert times in our lives. God deliberately calls us away into the desert for his purposes.

AN ODD HONEYMOON DESTINATION

The people of Israel spent 40 years in the desert, but it wasn’t simply because that’s what happened to be between Egypt and Israel. Listen to what God says about that time in Jeremiah 2:2:

“I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”

God reflects on that time in the desert as almost like a honeymoon – they had made a3ucj9nhndks-trevor-cleveland covenant and agreed to be his people, and he was leading them into their destiny with him. He talks about their time in the desert with him as a time of intimacy. He appeared in a very dramatic way to them at Sinai, and gave them his Word. Of course, despite God’s guidance, provision and presence, it was not all smooth-sailing.

Later on he explains his interesting choice of honeymoon destination in Deuteronomy 8:

“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

THE DESERT REVEALS THE PRIORITIES OF OUR HEARTS

Desert times really separate the men from the boys. It can really show things as they really are… the true state of the heart is revealed. It is a place of revelation, testing, refining, humbling… which can often result in deeper intimacy with God.

There are also a number of parallels between Israel’s 40 years in the desert and the 40 day fast and then temptation of Yeshua-(Jesus). Matthew 4 tells us that

“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil…After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

It is interesting to see Yeshua’s reply:

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

He was thinking about God’s desert agenda for the Israelites too, and quoted Deuteronomy 8. The number 40 often signifies a time period of gestation too – 40 years, 40 days and nights… and both these parallel desert experiences were times of preparation and testing.

This is not the only time that God leads people into the desert – Hosea 2: 14-15 says of Israel,

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;  I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”

He will lead her into the midbar (desert) and medaber (speak) to her heart. God continues,

“There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

God loves that soft, loving response of willingness, and longs to bless. It’s hard to imagine any parent deliberately letting their children suffer hunger or thirst, yet this is what God deliberately did with his people. But there was a purpose. God tested his people then, to purify their hearts and their response to Him, and we should not be surprised when He does it to us too.

Perhaps you’re in a desert time of testing. It’s a season all believers have to go through from time to time. A time where the true priorities of our hearts are revealed. But this is not a punishment, or even a mistake. It is not because God loves us less, or has forgotten about us, or doesn’t want to bless us – quite the opposite. He delights to replenish, restore and provide – but he is looking for the loving response of a willing heart, fully dedicated to him, and no other. If he led Yeshua to the desert, we can be sure he will do the same with us!

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23 thoughts on “A Voice In The Wilderness

  1. Great post. Whenever I discuss the wilderness with my family, I try to convey the idea that the Children of Yisra’el were in Egypt for 400 years, it takes time to get that out of you. To remove or deprogram their system of worship and belief, so that the Almighty could have a pure bride. Many blessings to you in journey of faith and truth. Shalom!

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    1. Amen! Indeed there is a season for everything. As the book of Ecclesiastes says in chapter 3 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” How the Lord loves to purify our hearts and have us depend and draw closer to Him!

      God bless my friend!

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    1. I’m so happy to hear this article touched you Elizabeth. I always find it so interesting how God works in our lives. His ways can seem so different than ours sometimes. I’m reminded of this verse from Romans 11:33 – “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

      God Bless my friend

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      1. Every time I get into a one-sided argument with God (“I just wanted to let you know, God, that I am starting to think you’re not real…and that you hate me.”) He steps in and wins.

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      2. I know exactly what you mean. This also reminds me of Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He is sure to finish what He started in us! How the Shepherd loves His sheep!

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  2. You are a very anointed writer. I enjoyed reading your interpretation and truth concerning the wilderness. I’ve always stated the wilderness is a teacher (a time of isolation to be led directly by God), not a curse. Think about how you are strengthened in the wilderness. The Israelites, although they murmured and complained, developed character, experienced miracles, and actually saw the presence of God. To be honest, I don’t think I’d be where I am today had I not encountered “The Wilderness”.

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    1. Your so right Shenica, I don’t know where i would be either if the Lord didn’t continue to bring me into wilderness experiences. And although it can be uncomfortable at times, when i look back i find those times so precious as I start to realize what a intimate time it is with the Lord. And how much i grew from it!

      I love that verse from Jeremiah 2:2 so much – “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”

      It just reminds me of how much the Lord loves spending time with us in those desert experiences while we are totally dependent on Him.

      I believe its the mature believers in Christ like yourself who really understand “the wilderness” experience with the Lord.

      May the Lords face shine upon you my sister in Christ!

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  3. Have you read Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card? The first thing I thought of when I saw this post was his book because he spends awhile talking about how Exodus 7:16 indicates that the promised land wasn’t the primary thing Yahweh had in mind for Israel. That book is great and deals with similar themes as this post.
    The other stuff you tied together was great. I love how God never has the prophets reflect on the wilderness Wanderings as unintended or tragic. They are always positive, yet they were brought on by punishment. The writer of Hebrews has given many Christian thinkers over the years the impression that the exodus generation was basically lost but that makes no sense given how God speaks of that generation throughout the scriptures, or how God presents discipline as a sign of love and sonship. God is so much more merciful and loving than we can comprehend.

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    1. I actually haven’t read that book. Sadly i have not been much of a reader up until about a year ago, which i definitely regret. Amen brother! He is so merciful. I know many people read the Old Testament and see a God of wrath and anger, but they miss how much grace is everywhere. And how much He loved His children. He is of course a just God that cannot let sin be ignored, but the correction of sin is always for our own good. Interestingly enough, after God sent His children into exile you never see them worship false idols ever again, even to this day. He had to purge that out of them. And it is so neat to see Gods heart while He was in the wilderness with His children, He loved that time they depended on Him daily. Like a child depending on their father. How precious those times are for Him when we depend on Him.

      Thanks for taking some time out of your day to read and share your thoughts on this post brother.

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      1. If you just look up his YouTube videos you can get the gist. But it’s mostly about how much lament/Sorrow etc are important for worshiping God.

        Yeah actually the more I’ve seen how to read Old Testament narrative the more judgmental Jesus seems! lol but even little things like Melchizedek means something similar to “when I die judgement” and he just so happens to be the oldest man in recorded history. Grace everywhere

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      2. Thanks for tip, ill be sure to check out his youtube videos. I’m sure it will be great since its not everyone who understands sorrow and lament are important for worshiping God. Often God breaks down before He builds up, we see quite often in the scriptures there is a breaking down period for men and woman before God uses them mightily. The Lord then starts to build up a house set upon that humble foundation!

        No kidding lol, whats funny is the bloodiest book isn’t even in the O.T., it’s in the New Testament! The book of Revelation. Christ didn’t do much pushing around while He was here the first time but He is soon to make the O.T. look like a walk in the park, during and at the end of the Great Tribulation. And your right, Melchizedek is a really interesting part of scripture as well.

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      3. Yeah I always point out that Psalm 110 is the most quoted Scripture in the NT because Jesus is a general (well a king). Even if you think that means Psalm 110 is being shown to speak to a primarily spiritual reality rather than physical it’s still about conquering and violence. Let’s say John’s Apocalypse is entirely metaphor it’s still a pretty violent metaphor…and what is it representing? At the very least it’s about spiritual “violence”, casting out or however you want to say it. Physical death is a pleasure by comparison to the second death.

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      4. This is a weird question but are you a dispensationalist? I don’t usually see anything about the great tribulation from non dispys. I’m wondering because I am but I’m trying to come up with a sexier name for it, something really pretentious like teleological eschatological binomial covenantalism. Or multi variant pretension ism. Ya know because eschatology isn’t already confusing enough.

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      5. To be honest i’m not sure what i am. I personally haven’t devoted much time in figuring out the theological differences. I do believe the book of revelation is a real event though. And I believe Christ will physically reign for 1,000 years here on earth. As i think many prophecies like Zechariah 14:4 don’t make sense unless Christ is really here again. And your right Psalms 110 is scary no matter how you look at it! All i know is i don’t want to be there to see the wrath of Christ personally! 🙂

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      6. Premil is all that matters to me at this point really. But most premil theologians before and since Ladd believed Israel was the basis for the millennium and in a lot of ways that is what contemporary dispensationalism boils down to. That’s what Spurgeon believed and he hated dispensationalism. So yeah, stick with the Bible and don’t worry about the labels too much

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