In the Wilderness - Part 1
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I
cannot see him: (Job 23:8, 9)
Mountaintop experiences are always wonderful! We live in the high places close to the heart of God. We walk in His presence. We commune as it were, face to face with the Most High. But alas, it happens. We are shaken from our high summit to the valley below. Still, we sense the presence of God. We know He is with us. He walks with us through the shadows. We know of His loving mercy and care for us. But then . . . .
Job in the Wilderness
But then we enter the darkness. His smile fades. His presence is withdrawn, and we like Job lose sight of the Saviour. We long for the mountaintop again, but it is too high. Perhaps we like Job, have friends to comfort us, but to no avail. We seek the presence of God, but He is nowhere to be found. At least it seems that way.
We attempt to go forward. Surely God will be there. We look behind for His light, but there are only sad, dark shadows. To our right and to our left, He is hidden from us. He has placed us in the Wilderness.
Albert Barnes says of this passage in Job, “The meaning of these verses is, ‘I go in all directions, but I cannot find God. I am excluded from the trial which I seek, and I cannot bring my cause to his throne.’ Job expresses his earnest desire to see some visible manifestation of the Deity, and to be permitted to argue his cause in his presence. But he says he sought this in vain. He looked to all points of the compass where he might rationally expect to find God, but all in vain.”
There are at least three ways of finding ourselves in the wilderness, but only one is truly God-sent. Even though God was working in Job’s life, it was satan that was sent to test him. You may find yourself in the wilderness due to satanic activity in your life. God certainly allows satan to test us and try us just he did in Job's case.
You may bring yourself to the wilderness through sin and wrong choices as was the case with Jonah. God will allow you to live unto yourself, and He will remove His hands from your life – thus we find ourselves in the wilderness looking for God’s help, but seemingly not able to find Him.
I believe a true wilderness experience is neither fueled by satan nor by our own sin and rebellion. Rather it is orchestrated and planned by God fitting neatly into His perfect will for your life. We read in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” When God chooses to limit our own abilities; when God chooses to limit resources; when He allows the shades of night to creep in and block the Son of Light, know that it is His good and perfect purpose that is working on your behalf.
Moses in the Wilderness
The Children of Israel chided with Moses, “And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:11, 12).
If you are in the wilderness, and if you have examined yourself, and find no fault, go to the next level. Ask God for discernment to determine if it is a satanic attack. If God reveals no satanic activity, know that it is God’s good and perfect gift. Count it as a blessing sent from the hand of God, and do your best to rejoice in it.
At the end of the wilderness road you are sure to find a blessing. Just stay on course.
Findings in the Red Sea
Moses was the one to be blamed by the Israelites for bringing them into the wilderness; a wilderness surrounded by high cliffs to the left and right, the Red Sea in front, and the Egyptian army behind. Everywhere they looked there was darkness, not so unlike the place where Job found himself. It appeared as if God abandoned them, but these circumstances were not brought on by self, neither the devil. These circumstances were God-sent, and God-planned.
Look back at Exodus 14:2-4. “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.”
Notice the order to encamp by the Red Sea was given by God Himself. It was not Moses’ choice. God led the children of Israel to this barren, troublesome spot. It was God’s will for His people to be trapped on all sides (verse 2). In verse 3 He gives the reason. Pharaoh will say they are entangled in the wilderness. Then in verse 4, God alone hardens Pharaoh’s heart so that God alone gets the victory and the glory. God led Israel into the wilderness for His purposes.
Isaiah 1:19, 20 says, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” Then in Exodus 15:2 we read, “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.”
God was the One glorified in this situation. But the Children of Israel were the beneficiary. Why? Because they obeyed. Obedience always brings blessing. I might add this was not even willing obedience. There was murmuring, fear, anxiety, and rebellion. Still they followed the direction of the Lord, probably due to the fact that they had little choice.
God’s wilderness can be very difficult. We may question and argue, but God always knows best. Is your heart centered on Him? It is about God shining forth in His glory, not about you remaining in your comfort zone. You will however, as a by-product, be blessed and rewarded by the God of Heaven.
In Part 2 of this series we will look at David's wilderness experience. If these mere mortals could overcome, so can you and I. It was God working in them. If you are to overcome, it must be God working in you. Until next time . . .
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