Lessons in the Desert

by | Nov 25, 2022

A few years ago my wife and I had the privilege to visit Israel. I love to travel but I did not anticipate the impact that this trip to Isreal would make on me. Friends who had previously been to Israel had told me that I needed to go because it would make “the Bible come alive” for me. From the day I became a christian I have always felt that my Bible was alive and so felt no special need to visit Israel, until I went and discovered how much I had been missing. Walking where Jesus, Moses, David and all my Bible heroes had walked, at times on the same streets, to smell the same scents, feel the hot breath of the climate and to swim in the sea on which Jesus once walked made a deep impact on me and yes, it made my Bible come alive in a new and special way. This was and is the promised land.

One of the things which strikes me about Israel is that the desert is never far away. One moment you are in a lunar landscape which is hot and dusty but then you turn a corner, go over a hill and you are suddenly surrounded but lush, green fields, or orchards, or tunnels growing fruit, vegetables or flowers. The desert is blooming all around you. You are visually reminded that the when the jewish people returned to Israel in the modern era they came believing that it was a land which God had blessed, it was their promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey and due to that conviction they made the desert bloom. Today Israel is one of the most productive agricultural nations in the world, despite the desert!

When you have faith in God he will make your deserts bloom. In Deuteronomy chapter 8:1-18 the Bible records the first journey of Israel into the promised land. Even though this happened thousands of years ago the truths this passage contain are as fresh as the dew on my strawberries because for many of us the last few years have been tough, it feels for many we have been crossing a financial, relational or career desert.

Lessons in the Desert.

1)The first thing to take note of is the heart of God for His people. God instructs us so that we will prosper, increase and possess the inheritance he plans for us.

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. (Deuteronomy 8:1)

It is vital to understand the heart of God for us if we are going to protect our hearts in a difficult time. Remember this is not the destination, it is the journey to the promise. Even though you are going through great hardship now, keep going with faith and remember God has you on a journey and he will bring you into everything he has planned for you. Don’t be fooled into believing that the desert is all there is or will be. Have faith. Trust God. Don’t lose sight of God’s nature, His character and His love for you. God has already planned good for you, and His desire is to see you and the generations that come after you blessed, that is the heart behind His instruction.

2) In the desert Israel became who they needed to be in order to conquer and hold the promised land. Remember they left Israel a vast crowd of slaves. They weren’t even a nation. They had never had a national home, no laws, or leaders but as time went by in the desert they became a warrior nation, God gave them the laws and the leaders that laid the foundation of much of the freedoms experienced even today all around the world. In the same way today, if we trust God in our times of challenge perhaps God may not change our deserts, but he may be changing you in your desert into who you need to be in order to enter and possess your promised land.

3) The only place of safety is in His presence. A generation learnt to live in the presence of God. Each day the task was simple, follow the cloud of His presence. Each night they camped beneath the fire of his presence. In time this would have been ingrained into every person in Israel. I believe that God is provoking the church in our times to return to His presence. We have had so much stripped away so that once again we will live dependant on the presence of God for our direction, provision and protection.

As 2022 draws to a close our prayer for us all is that we will remember the kindness and goodness of our God and deepen our trust in him. May the presence of Emmanuel be a pillar of cloud before you, leading you into His promises and in times of darkness may you be aware of His presence like a pillar of fire protecting you and enlightening the night.

Often in Israel the landscape can change suddenly, in our lives too things can shift dramatically in moments, it’s great to know that our God never changes and His heart for us remains constant in every season.

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