What the wilderness teaches us

The men’s Bible study I am a part of at my church is going through the Gospel of Matthew. We’re just getting started so I was reflecting on Matthew 3 this week. John the Baptist comes along and Matthew identifies him as the one crying out in the wilderness.

As we were discussing this Isaiah passage where Matthew draws from to identify John, I thought about the use of the wilderness throughout Scripture.

We hate the wilderness. We don’t want it in our lives. But, when we have only abundance, we don’t do so well! We’ve done poorly in times of prosperity and are more culturalized in our Christianity than we want to admit.

But the wilderness is necessary in our lives.

It brings clarity.

It exposes our sin.

It leaves us dependent.

It creates thirst and hunger.

It draws us to what is necessary and shoves off the superfluous.

All of these things are true in how we see the Lord use the wilderness throughout Scripture.

Israel was driven into the wilderness. Then, they chose the wilderness over the Promised Land the first time around.

Elijah was driven into the wilderness. He heard God. He was utterly dependent on his provision.

Jesus was driven into the wilderness.

Paul was driven into the wilderness.

John was exiled.

If we do not take the wilderness willingly, there are times we force it on ourselves. But the question will remain: “Will we learn the lesson of the wilderness?”

Israel had to be driven into Babylon because they chose to constantly worship other gods. The culturalized American Church is about to enter its own Babylon… its own wilderness.

Our great question: Will we learn anything from this journey?

dry parched

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