Lesson in the Wilderness

God intended to teach the Israelites a lesson in the wilderness. This is explicitly stated by Moses:

Deut. 8:2-5 [NIV]
2Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

It is God’s intention to restore His way of love and wisdom back to His own children.  So He disciplined them as would a father his son. The lessons concerning food are but a means He used to try to open their eyes and ears to see and receive His goodness, His love, wisdom and glory. But they hardened their heart in disbelief and provoked Him to wrath again and again in rebellion. Finally, they brought about God’s judgment of death, as their parents Adam and Eve did in the beginning. Paul says:

1 Co 10:1-11 [NIV]

1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test the Lord, as some of them did-and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did-and were killed by the destroying angel.
11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

Later, Jesus was also tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and nights without bread and water. It is not merely a personal test of physical, mental and spiritual strength and discipline. It is part of the work of restoration on our behalf through His suffering in the flesh. But he didn’t fall.  Rather He endured them all, even to the point of death on a cross. Once and for all, He destroyed the root of sin and the power of death for us who believe.

Heb 2:13-18 [NIV]

13And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil- 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

This is _Part 3_ in the series The Gift and Work of the Holy Spirit: Resurrection Power and Eternal Life.  To continue with this series, click on Pt 4.  To use this as a growth tool to better understand your own calling, you might start by reading the explanation of this series, Pt 1 and Pt 2.

Photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt

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