“Where is God when I hurt?” That was the title of the lead article in this week’s Apologetics Press newsletter email. Facebook posts were also including comments on the providence of God. In a conversation with a fellow preacher we spoke about how he might minister to man whose wife was gravely ill, yet believed, no, knew, with all his heart that God would heal his wife. What affect would this have on his faith in the event that his wife did not survive? In the course of sharing some thoughts a question arose that seemed fitting, “Why did God leave Israel in the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt?” The answer leaped off my tongue before I knew it, when I said, “To teach them to rely on God.”
That conversation prompted me to consider the events of Israel’s sojourning in the Sinai and ponder some of the other lessons we can learn from it. Any student of scripture will understand the significance of Sinai and the wilderness wanderings of Israel and how it was a stage in the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to give his descendants the land he found himself in. But what of the wilderness and it’s purpose?
It was more than the place where the Law was delivered to Moses, not to mention the design of the Tabernacle. The wilderness is on the way, on the way from Egypt to the Promised Land. The trip from a place of oppression and slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey takes them through a place of trial and testing. Today, we are in a type of wilderness in this world as we face trials and testing before entering the next life.
The wilderness is where many lose trust and belief in God. The children of Israel were sent into the land to ‘spy’ it out for the people, the city’s defenses and the produce it offered. The report given by the spies on their return was riddled with doubt and fear. With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, the men failed to believe God would deliver them safely into that land. In today’s wilderness we have a choice to make, to trust or not to trust. Too many today fail to believe that God even exists or that He will fulfill His promise to them.
Last, but by no means least, the wilderness is also where some grow in their faith in God. Israel grew from little faith to the point where they were ready to enter Canaan at the leading of God. We too, face trials and tests in the wilderness, which is life. We can use them to build our faith to the point we are ready enter the place prepared for us by Jesus. Which direction is your wilderness experience leading?
Copyright © 2011, Nolan P. Rutter