By Dr. Rebecca Rivka
Wilderness experiences signify God’s tapping on our lives. It may be hard and rough for us, but the wilderness is always God’s way. When Jesus was baptized, He was led into the wild by the Holy Spirit. We are always led into wilderness experiences by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was taken up into a mountain and there the devil presented to Him, the three kinds of temptation.
• If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down because you can save yourself.
• If you are the Song of God, turn these stones into bread, so you can eat.
• Come here, from this mountain, look at my world, the glitter and glamour, if you will bow
down and worship me, it will all belong to you.
And of course, we know the answers the Lord gave. Don’t tempt God, You cannot live by bread alone, and God says you worship only Him. So you see Jesus was led and tempted in the wilderness. It was a test for Jesus. The wilderness is a test for us. The wilderness is a teaching tool. The test of the wild was a necessary discipline for the redeemed Israel who failed miserably. The wilderness was a normal experience to be going through, but the years of wanderings were abnormal and God’s penalty for their unbelief and murmuring. What should have been a short journey of approximately two weeks eventuated into 40 years.
God sends us into the wilderness for cleansing, self discipline, liberation, and balance. We go into the wild to rid our minds and hearts of weed-thoughts, hot and arid passions, unholy desires, and all manners of addictions and inappropriate behaviors. We go into the wild to find God, the secret place of the most high (Isaiah 32:15), the mystical union between God and man. As Jesus taught, our balance is in nature. He went to the mountains to pray. John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness, eating natural food and wearing natural fibers.
The wilderness is the place of the soul’s struggle for God. We go into the wild to attune the soul with God. The wild is the soul’s thirst for righteousness, the essence of all that we are seeking – The Kingdom within. It is in the wilderness where the power can be found. Christ Jesus comes on the periphery, the cutting edge between time and eternity. He comes to the outcast of society, the poor, broken and disinherited in life.
Jesus resides in the wilderness.
He come in the extremes of life between the wolves and the lambs, taking the middle position between the wise serpent and the harmless dove. The wilderness is a great humbling experience. When we walk in humility, the world cannot recognize us because humility does not look like the established order. That is why African Americans have gotten places in America because of their humble spirits that have been developed and testing in hard wilderness experiences in this land.
The text tells us to stay out of the valley where the Amalekites and Canaanites dwell. For they will attack us. But some of them and some of us must stop off in the valley of the dolls. There is something about the lure of the world – Las Vegas and Caesar’s Palace – that intrigues us. Many of our people will not heed the warning, and they have fallen prey to the strange gods of the oppressors. Young and old have died from the King’s sweet meats, drugs, diseases, abuses and other weapons of destruction.
God said, “tomorrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by way of the Red Sea.” God always prepares a way for us regardless of how undeserving or sinful we may be. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Going into the wilderness by way of the Red Sea is going by way of the Cross.
The Red Sea speaks of the Cross as that which was death for Jesus, but is life and peace for us. The Red Sea (bloody cross of Calvary) separates us from the valley of Egypt, the world. When we go back into our wilderness following the cross of Jesus before us, and the world behind us, we don’t stay. We just go in for the lesson, take the test, seek God for redemption, cleansing, balance, liberation and make our exit. There is need for the wilderness, for it leads home to the city.