Wilderness Day 5 Purposed Desolation
Read His Words Before Ours!
“Wilderness” is woven throughout the Bible.
Hagar’s desperation in the wilderness (Genesis 16:1-16)
Moses’ shepherding in the wilderness (Exodus 3)
Israel’s bitter complaining in wilderness wanderings (Exodus 14:11-14)
These are only a few examples.
Amazingly, God spoke of making a way in the wilderness. (Isaiah 43:20)
The wilderness isn’t a place of comfort, but is defined as a lonely, desolate place. I imagine wilderness as a place similar to the forested place I traveled with my mother as a child to cut firewood. Regardless of the landscape, wilderness is a place of lonely isolation.
Imagine Jesus taken by the Holy Spirit to that place of desolation. (Matthew 4:1-3) Imagine yourself there alone for 40 days and 40 nights without sustenance, and then the devil coming to tempt and taunt you. Some argue that because Jesus was God, He would have not felt tempted, physically weak, or lonely as we might, but Scripture reveals,
“For we do not have a great high priest [Jesus, the Son of God] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
We know Jesus felt hungry (Matthew 4:2) and tired (John 4:6), because, though He was fully God, He was also fully man.
Jesus’ wilderness was purposeful, a time set aside to fast, pray, and be present with His Father as He prepared to begin His ministry. Directly before this, when He was baptized, the Father testified about Him, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
In the wilderness, the devil tempted Jesus to use His power in ways inconsistent with His mission as God’s Beloved Son.
The devil took advantage of timing, approaching Jesus at the end of His 40 day fast, when He was hungry. Tempting Jesus to give in to the desires of His body, He urged Jesus to turn nearby stones to bread to satisfy His hunger. (Matthew 4:2-3)
But Jesus answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3)
Undaunted by his failure, the devil took Jesus to stand on the pinnacle of the temple in the holy city, asking Jesus to prove Himself as the Son of God. Misusing Scripture to qualify his claim, he asked Jesus to fall from the pinnacle, claiming angels would save Him. (Matthew 4:5-6)
But Jesus answered, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.” (Matthew 4:7, Deuteronomy 6:16)
The devil still would not give up; he took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him the kingdoms of the world and their glory, then asked Him to worship Satan, in order to gain ownership of said kingdoms and glory. (Matthew 4:8-9)
Again, Jesus resisted with Scripture, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” (Matthew 4:10, Deuteronomy 6:13)
Defeated, the devil departed from Jesus.
At times, we find ourselves in our own wildernesses. Even in daily life, we may feel alone in our wilderness, threatened physically, mentally, or spiritually.
In our world, sin and temptation constantly surround us.
Temptation may approach in the form of a threat or that of pleasure,
but always with the same goal: to lure us into sin.
The devil will either use our everyday needs to tempt us, or dreadful condition to submerge us in fear, belittling God’s power in our lives.
Anything shifting our gaze away from God can become our idol. Ordinary things may not appear sinful, but if we prioritize them above God, they become idols. Food is a normal need, but if we allow it to control us, it becomes an idol; likewise money, position, or any hunger of our heart. We are always tempted to pursue that which we think will satisfy our lusts, and the resulting idols always stand between us and God.
Sister, be encouraged; these idols are stripped of their power in Christ!
Through God’s Spirit, we have the capacity to overcome temptation!
The Scripture says God is faithful to sustain us through temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), and He has given us His Word to fight against the devil’s schemes. Jesus depended on God’s Word during His wilderness time; likewise, our victory over temptation depends on His Word. Among the spiritual weapons apostle and preacher, Paul, lists in Ephesians 6:10-18, “the sword of the Spirit–which is the word of God” is the only offensive weapon mentioned.
Finally, when we find ourselves in the wilderness, let’s believe the desolation can be unto a purpose. Let’s immerse ourselves in His Word, meditating on it day and night, until it abides within us. Then, when we face temptation, let us follow the example set by Jesus and wield it effectively, unto victory!
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