When we refer to a “wilderness experience” these days the general meaning leans toward separation, trial, testing and proving. God, as our governor, oversees our development in wisdom and understanding. He shows us who we really are and has a specific lesson for us to learn. There is a targeted mission, focus and end game: to know Him and to become resolute to do His will.
You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. — Deuteronomy 8:2 NASB
In reading the Gospel According to Luke, I came upon a passage and thought with you a thought that all wilderness is not created equal.Humility, testing, exposing the heart, and obedience potential (Israelites) Temptation by the devil (Jesus) Dwelling place (John the Baptist)
Jesus’ wilderness was not John’s wilderness. He was tried there for 40 days, led by Holy Spirit for this testing. (Note: Those who attended the class on intense prayer can mark this as “equal opposite force”.) When Jesus completed His wilderness time, He came out in the power of the Spirit. (Luke 4:1-15)
By contrast, John stayed in the wilderness until the time he was revealed to Israel (Luke 1:80). We learn about John’s wilderness through his father Zachariah’s prophecy (vv. 76-79). There he became the prophet of the Highest and gained strength to grow in the mission (word) spoken over him at birth. Here are the basics of the prophecy.— He was a Nazarite — Give knowledge of salvation to God’s people by remission of their sins — Do the above through tender mercy (kind of trumps this angry, accusatory judgment talk that’s flying around) — Give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death — Guide our feet in the way of peace
What struck me is that there are people who pass their wilderness time by counting to 40…over and over again. In attempting to follow Jesus’ example in His time of testing, they create a long frustrating road for themselves because they do not realize they live in John’s wilderness. And that they will be in that wilderness — training, learning, becoming — until the time is ready for their revealing. Nothing will release them ahead of time. They cannot release themselves ahead of time, but must live up to the prophecy.
When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out in the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces! — Luke 7:24-25 NASB
I’ll continue in another entry about the specifics of John’s wilderness, but I pray this little bit encourages those who need it. It’s not about what you did not do to move the hand of God. It may be about who you are supposed to be, and that you are yet becoming…and the time of your revealing is not yet.
When I saw this I was relieved because I wondered at times why my 40 days did not bring me out in the power of the Spirit. Reading this passage showed me that I am not powerless and I am still becoming. That makes the camel’s hair, leather girdle, and locust/honey diet more significant symbols for life in the wilderness (maybe I’ll get to that later too). John’s wilderness was about growth and becoming strong in the Spirit.
Prayerfully, Kingdom Queen “John,” you see this light too and can relax a bit in God’s grace to remain a wilderness dweller until things are ready for you to speak. Selah, and love to all.