Summary: Now you may not like the truth of this message, but the simple fact of the matter is that we need wilderness experiences. What is in the wilderness? Nothing! There is a reason why God takes us into wilderness seasons in our lives and it’s vital for our fu
Has anyone here ever been some place that you would consider to be a promised land? It usually involves beaches, or a nice comfy hotel room, warm weather, peace and quiet and all the niceties of life. What we’re going to talk about this morning is the opposite of that. The Israelites were walking into this landscape (photo) and I imagine this wouldn’t make anyone’s top 10 vacation destinations. Wilderness: An unsettled, uncultivated region, a large wild tract of land covered with dense vegetation or forests, an extensive area, such as a desert or ocean, that is barren or empty; a waste. God lead them out here for a very specific purpose, which was more then just having to go that way to get to the Promised Land. This was going to be a challenging time for Moses and this huge mass of people. God was instilling principles in their lives that they were going to need in order to take hold of their destiny. Now you may not like the truth of this message, but the simple fact of the matter is that we need wilderness experiences. What is in the wilderness? Nothing! There is a reason why God takes us into wilderness seasons in our lives and it’s vital for our futures.
1) Wilderness tests convictions (15:22-27)
The nation of Israel was setting out to claim a promise that was made hundreds of years before to their ancestor Abraham. The years of slavery were over and now God needed to get Egypt and slavery mentality out of their systems. This was not going to be an easy process and it became blatantly obvious as soon as the first little hick-up happened at Mara (bad water). We just finish reading this wonderful song of God’s greatness, but when things don’t go as they planned they turn quickly. They were now a Theocracy, a form of government where God is the supreme leader. These people were going to have to learn to trust in God for everything, not in their old rulers or in their own wisdom. God can only do this in circumstances that our out of our control, which they didn’t like very much. What they didn’t know, and God did, was that Elim (12 fresh springs) was just around the corner.
When you begin the journey of faith circumstances will arise that are out of your control. It is not something we enjoy, but it is the only way God can test your newfound convictions. Jesus claims to be all-sufficient and that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but the only way to be convinced of this is to be in a position where He has to be everything for you and when He is all you have to hang on to. Who likes being in that place? Do you see why it’s critical for us to go through these times? How can we preach and share this stuff with any kind of conviction if we’ve never lived it? This is when things go from our heads to our hearts, the old is made new!
2) Wilderness builds faith (16:1-6)
As this nation of people moved through the wilderness they saw things that were truly miraculous. They left Elim and became very hungry and grumbled once more to God. By the next day manna and quail were falling from the sky to feed over a million people. This became a daily occurrence. They later saw water come from a rock near Sinai as God again supplied the needs of the people in the midst of a desert. Over and over again God showed himself to be faithful in impossible circumstances He was able to sustain and keep this vast group of people. As these things were happening God was instilling in them things they would need when taking the Promised Land. Things like the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the promise of His continual presence, the laws, authority structures, and the 10 commandments. These things were all given and learned in the wilderness, not the Promised Land.
In times of challenge God builds within us faith in His ability to do exactly what He promises to do, even in the most impossible circumstances. This is where we learn about God’s perfect timing and how it has nothing to do with our own agendas and timelines, but how He answers and when He answers it is perfect. We gain our own stories of His greatness that we can share to others. As we wait on Him and do not fall back into our old pathways we have principles woven into lives that we will need in other seasons (2 Thess. 3:3-5). This is when God sets within our hearts His Word, much like we see in the life of Christ before He went into ministry. God was preparing Him for a great work and that is what he wants to do with you as well. Your belief will always be stronger coming out of a wilderness then when you went in.