THE DESERT WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE the destination. The Lord had brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea in order to bring them into the promised land, “Which I have given unto the children of Israel” Num 13:2 The promised land was their destination. The desert was just supposed to be an 11 day “just passing through on my way to greater things” journey. But the Exodus generation of Israelites hardened their hearts to God.
They were the generation that was to experience the land, but as it turns out only their children would enter. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in God, they knew who He was and saw all His mighty miracles; however they didn’t believe God and take Him at His Word. Because of Israel’s unbelief in the promises of God (that He would do what He said He would do) which led to disobedience and the failure to resist sin and a hardening of the heart, they were barred from entering the promised land. So we are warned,
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’
” Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.””
Hebrews 3:7-15 NKJV
This is a real and present warning for us when we walk through times of affliction, persecution, leanness, etc. These temporary afflictions have the ability to create a root of bitterness that will defile our soul. Will you trust God to take care of you in the desert places? When you don’t get what you want, when temporary conveniences are stripped away, when you experience times of famine and death; when the desert time is prolonged longer than you like; will you continue to trust the Lord or cast off all restraint and return to your old ways of sin?
You are only meant to pass through that desert. Don’t camp out there! Making a home in your desert will create bitterness and resentment, and eventually the deceitfulness of sin will create in you a hardened heart. God only means for you to pass through.
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”
Even in the desert place, you are never alone. Though all your friends forsake you, the Lord stands by you. But you have to trust that He is a good and faithful God and that He will see you through. You have to trust that He knows what He is doing. There’s a reason for the desert. God does a great work in our character development in the desert places.
Let Him do His work in you. Do not become hardened and bitter. You do not have to die in the desert because of rebellion. And learn a great lesson from that generation: God despises grumbling and complaining. Complaining reveals a heart of ingratitude and that you don’t really trust Him to provide. Don’t be like that generation who bitterly questioned God, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” Yes He can and yes He will. As David proclaimed, “He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. Trust Him. He has a great plan of victory.
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