Jesus in the WildernessJesus in the wilderness, had that experience of divine provision and intimate fellowship that we spoke of in part 1 of this 2-part study on the various wilderness experiences of the Bible."
This page will look at the wilderness experience of Jesus, at Paul's wilderness experience and, finally, at what God's people might expect in an end-time wilderness experience.
Jesus in the Wilderness
It could be said that Jesus' whole time of ministry was a time of Divine provision and intimate fellowship. Relative to His home in heaven, this earth could certainly be considered a wilderness.
While Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days He was preparing for His mission and would surely have had much intimate fellowship with His Father.
"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness," (Luke 4:1)
"And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him." (Mark 1:12-13)
He would have needed a strong connection with His Father then as He was enduring Satan's temptations. His needs (in overcoming temptation) were provided through His acquaintance with the word of God. The source of His answers and what kept Him from falling for each temptation was the word of God. In each case, He replied "it is written" and quoted a suitable scripture. For example:
"And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (Luke 4:4)
We might not think of it as a time of divine provision of physical needs - He was fasting for those 40 days. But remember, Jesus found sustenance and strength in what we would not think of as food. When the disciples urged Him to eat after returning from buying food in the Samaritan city of Sychar, He said to them:
"... I have meat to eat that ye know not of." (John 4:32)
Throughout His ministry, Jesus would often go into a wilderness area for communion with His Father:
"And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed." (Luke 5:16)
"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." (Mark 1:35)
Again, the word here translated "solitary" is from the Greek word "eremos" commonly translated as "wilderness."
Jesus, in the wilderness, surely had that experience of Divine provision and intimate fellowship.Paul with Jesus in the Wilderness
Paul spent time in the wilderness after his baptism where He was instructed by God:
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus." (Gal 1:15-17)
It is quite possible that Paul, when in Arabia, spent time at Mt. Sinai which he later locates in Arabia:
"For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children." (Gal 4:25)
We have already, in this study, seen the area of Mt. Sinai referred to as a wilderness area and a special place for God to commune with His people.God's People with Jesus in the Wilderness in the Last Days
God's people, it seems, may have another wilderness experience awaiting them. The two verses (Rev 12:6, 14) that we started this study with speak of the woman, a symbol of the church, fleeing into the wilderness and being provided for by God. That will be a time of great tribulation and distress:
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matt 24:21)
"But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people." (Luke 21:23)
But we have promises of protection for that time - you are probably familiar with - Psalms 23, 46, 91 etc. Not only are there many promises of protection and of our needs being supplied but we also have promises such as this:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Rom 8:35)
In the midst of the troubles God's people will endure in the last days there are promises of us being connected to Him in love - the intimate fellowship.
This concept of intimate fellowship with Jesus in the wilderness could also be seen as His assurance that when we are having a personal wilderness experience - times when we are feeling hemmed in, alone and deserted, without a real friend to turn to - He is there with us and is ready to answer our cry for help:
"In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears." (Psa 18:6)
God is willing to rescue us from the wilderness; to help us in any difficult situation when we call on Him.The Wilderness Described
The following verses describe the wilderness as an area that is desolate and uninhabited. There may be cities but they are uninhabited. It is basically away from civilization and its distractions.
"For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste." (Job 30:3)
"To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;" (Job 38:26)
"Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings." (Job 39:6)
"I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger." (Jer 4:26)
"Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby." (Jer 51:43)
"For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. (May contain cities but not inhabited)" (Jer 22:6)
"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." (Psa 107:4-7)The Ultimate Wilderness and the Ultimate Time of Divine Provision and Intimate Fellowship
The instructions to the Israelites for observance of the Day of Atonement included the following with regard to the scapegoat:
"And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness." (Lev 16:22)
This goat, the scapegoat, known as Azazel, represented Satan who, for the 1000 years of the millennium, will be confined to the desolate and uninhabited earth - very much a wilderness - while the saved are in heaven.
We have been looking for a city of habitation; that city that will be a home for the saved for eternity. No more wilderness experience and yet a time of unending Divine provision and intimate fellowship with Him.
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Rev 21:2-3)While we are waiting for that reality, we can learn from Jesus' wilderness experience as we patiently endure our own.
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