The Way of the Wilderness
God did as God promised
As prophesied, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob delivered His children from the bondage of Egypt. Led by Moses, the children of Israel began the journey to the Promised Land. Though the way of the Philistines was the shortest route to their destination, God in His wisdom, did not lead His people that way. God fore knew that the Israelites would return to Egypt rather than face an attack of the nations along that route. Instead, God led them the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. Contrary to what might have seemed right at that time to the natural man, God led them into a desert wilderness where there was no food, water or shelter. Furthermore, God directed Moses to have the children of Israel make camp near the Red Sea, which left them vulnerable to attack. As always, God had a plan.
It was brought to the attention of Pharaoh that his former slaves made the foolish mistake of setting their tents near the Red Sea. His military mind knew the Israelites, if attacked, were vulnerable and would have nowhere to flee. Seeing Pharaoh’s armies drawing near, the God’s chosen were greatly afraid. Out of despair, they accused Moses saying, “Were there no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” God spoke to Moses saying, “Lift up your rod and stretch it out over the sea and divide it.” Then, the great pillar of fire which had led the people into the wilderness moved from before them and set itself between them and the Egyptian armies. God held the armies of Pharaoh at bay all night while a strong east wind parted the waters, providing a way of escape for the Israelites. What seemed so hopeless in the natural realm was turned into victory by God’s Spirit. As it is written,
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (examples): and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
1 Corinthians 10:11
Though in the natural it seemed Moses had failed and there was no hope, God knew all along He would use these circumstances to bring Himself glory. Remember, to God, there is never an impossible situation. God had purposed to destroy the power of Pharaoh through the apparent vulnerability and defenselessness of His people. God fore knew that through the way of the wilderness He would once and for all deliver His people from the slavery of Egypt.
The will of the Almighty is not always for us to take the easiest or safest route. In fact, often times Jesus directs us to take a course of action that leads us to our own Red Sea experience. Many times in the natural, the situations we face seem impossible. Just as the children of Israel, we fear there is no deliverance for us. Yet, our Lord allows us to be tested in these dire situations to strengthen our faith and to show forth His glory.
God desires to teach each one of us the way of the wilderness. In the gospel of Matthew we read,
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
God sometimes leads us into situations that we might avoid in the natural. For example, when Jesus was born, He was born to be the King of Israel. God promised Jesus in the scriptures He would rule and reign on the throne of David and of the increase of His Kingdom there would be no end. Yet, the way in which God chose for Jesus to obtain the kingdom was not as a conquering King, as the Zealots of His day desired, but through the agony and apparent defeat of the cross. As He sweat great drops of blood and pleaded for His Father to provide another way, nevertheless he said, not My will, but thy will be done. This is the essence of the way of the wilderness.
Satan had already tempted Christ to take the way that seemed right to man.
“And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:”
The Devil suggested that Jesus cast Himself off the top of the temple building and declare Himself to be the Messiah. All who would see Him descend from heaven would immediately accept Him as their Savior and King. Jesus could have then gained the throne of David in one magnificent act and fulfilled His destiny. The accuser of the brethren even used scripture to assure Jesus that no physical harm would come to Him should He do so. To the natural man, the devil’s plan of action seemed the best and easiest way to gain the kingdom. Yet, Jesus knew by the Spirit this was not His Father’s will. Instead, God’s plan for Jesus was just the opposite of the devil’s plan for popularity. His Father led Him to be in direct opposition to the established religious leadership of the day. Christ exposed the legalism and hypocrisy of the Pharisees when He preached forgiveness and liberty to those who had been brought into bondage by them. In front of many, the Son of God shamed those who trusted in the righteousness of the Law. Jesus revealed them to be sons of the devil, whitewashed sepulchers, a brood of snakes, and blind leaders of the blind. He showed how rather than bringing the people closer to God, they had both separated themselves and their followers from the Father. To say the least, such hard sayings were not the way to win scribes and influence Pharisees. Yet, in His wisdom, this was the path God chose.
Many will come to you when you are being led by the Spirit into the wilderness and tell you it is not God’s will. They will tell you to take the way of the Philistines, for it is the safest and easiest route. They will rebuke you, as Peter did to Jesus, trying to persuade you not to go up to Jerusalem and die. Be careful to spiritually discern who is really talking. Sometimes we must hold steady and resist the devil who speaks from the mouths of well-meaning souls. These types of people speak out of selfish motives and do not recognize what God is trying to accomplish by His Spirit.
The principle of spiritual increase in God’s kingdom tells us that unless the seed go into the ground and die it will bring forth nothing. I do not speak of physical death, because that price has already been paid for us through the cross of Christ. The death I speak of is the death to self, which occurs when we yield to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, contrary to our earthly desires. In the gospel of Luke we learn a fundamental principle of Gods kingdom,
“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”
The kingdom of God is set up in such a way that it causes those who only see with natural eyes stumble. This is why Paul wrote that,
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:”
I Corinthians 1:26
Our natural minded focus upon earthly things inspired Jesus to reveal that,
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
This is also the reason why the multitudes who followed Jesus did not often understand the spiritual meaning of the parables He taught. The things of God were, are, and will always be spiritually discerned. We, as Christians, or those who are to be like Christ, must learn to see through spiritual eyes and hear through spiritual ears the way which God desires us to go. Even though the world, like the high council, seeks to intimidate us and turn us away from God’s course of action, we, like Peter and the Apostles, must purpose in our hearts to obey God rather than men.
Christ was the first born of the new creation of God. We, through faith, are born-again into that new creation also. As Christ was, we are to be. We are to learn the way of the wilderness through following His pattern of self-denial. In yielding to the will of God, we become selfless and bring glory, not to ourselves, but to God. Know that the world will hate you just as they hated Christ. As we become more like Christ, as more of His life shines through us, those who love the darkness of this world will reject us just as they rejected Jesus. When this happens, rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven.
Here is a truth:
“God will permit no one to enter heaven that has not come to Him purely by faith.”
God will not permit His people to place their trust and hope in anyone or anything but Him. The intensive study of theology has become a trap to many zealous believers. Christians tend to become prideful about what they believe. They begin to trust in their own understanding, rather than in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Their security begins to rest in their knowledge of God, rather than their relationship with Him. Jesus said,
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
Doctrine can save no one. Christ alone is the resurrection and the life and it is only through a personal relationship with Him that we will be granted entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Are, then, the scriptures of no importance? No, the scriptures are of great importance. However, we must be careful to realize that our understanding of them is only an approximation of the truth. We must not be so set in our doctrinal views that we close our minds to the Spirit of Truth when He knocks on the doors of our understanding. We must not neglect our personal and individual responsibility to be taught by the Spirit of truth (i.e. the Holy Spirit). We, in reality, understand very little of the Bible. Moreover, we understand even less of the true heart and intent of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Only as we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit will God be able to deliver us out of the theological darkness we all dwell in. As prophesied by Paul, we must understand that in these later times, doctrines of devils have infiltrated the church. These damnable heresies have polluted our concepts about God to such an extent that much of what we believe to be sound doctrine is, in fact, partially or wholly incorrect. Like blind leaders of the blind, we foolishly espouse understanding of things we cannot possibly know, because we either lack or will not use the spiritual means necessary to understand them. Because of pride, we believe we know much more than we really do and we think our understanding of God’s Word is more accurate than it really is.
The Manifestation of the son’s of God will come in such a way that it will tear down every theological understanding that man trusts in. Many are like the Pharisees of Christ’s day that had so perverted the meaning of the Scriptures they neglected the major precepts of the Law such as love, mercy, and compassion. God is setting the stage, once again, to strip away all the false doctrines and traditions of men so the simplicity of the gospel may be revealed. With, as it were, God’s people’s theological backs to the Red Sea with no natural means of escape possible, they will be forced to lay down their man-made creeds and totally trust in Him.
Students of Biblical prophecy believe that the end of the age and the return of Christ is imminent. Furthermore, they believe, through their study, they know how and when these events will come to pass. By the word of the Lord I say to you:
“We do not have it figured out.”
The events of Christ’s return will happen in such a way that we must accept Him through faith and not through doctrinal knowledge. Jesus said,
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”
And again in the gospel of John,
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Just as Jesus said to His followers, they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, He will at times deliberately stumble our understanding also. Why? Because God in Christ desires to purify our faith. For this cause He will take away from us all our rational justifications for believing in Him. We will find that in order to continue on with Him as a disciple, we will have to, like Simon Peter; believe on Him simply because He is.
Those who seek through the natural man to inherit God’s kingdom, will, like the Pharisees, miss the time of their visitation. Many, who choose to take the way of the Philistines, will never reach the Promised Land. Only those, who by faith, yield to God’s plan for their lives and take the way of the wilderness will receive God’s deliverance and enter into His rest. These are the sons of God, these are the very elect, and these are the members of the Bride of Christ who shall, having crossed over a spiritual Red Sea on dry Land, sing a new song. These are the saints who will be delivered and brought into the land that flows with milk and honey, the New Heavens and the New Earth.
We are all on a journey out of spiritual Egypt. With a mighty hand, our Father is delivering each one of us from the bondage of this world into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. The way of the wilderness has been, through the example of Jesus, made plain for each one of us. Remember, the paths that God chooses for us stumbles those who look only after the natural. Yet know this, through our faith in the Son of Man and through our perseverance in that faith, God will deliver our very souls. Finally, as it is written,
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”