Summary: Jewish people refer to themselves as "desert people" for their wanderings in the wilderness and their instruction there by the hand of God. We all have desert experiences which teach us the sweetness of God in trying times.
1. Story of the water pump in the desert
There’s a legend about a man who was lost in the desert, dying of thirst. As he wandered in that terribly hot desert, he stumbled upon a dilapidated shack. There wasn’t much to it, but, at least, it would provide a little bit of shade and respite for him.
He was looking around when he noticed about fifteen feet away from him a rickety, rusty old pump. He staggered over to the pump and grabbed hold of the handle. He began to work that pump up and down, but nothing came out. He saw an old jug covered with dirt and filth. He began to wipe off what appeared to be a label or a note. He brushed away the dirt and began to make it out. It said: "You have to prime the pump with all the water in the jug. P.S. Be sure to fill the jug again before you leave."
Wow! Suddenly, he was faced with this life-or-death decision. Here’s the sure thing, a jug with some water. At least, if he drank that, he could live a little while longer. But if, indeed, it was true, he would have access to flowing, fresh, cool water ... as much as he could possibly want.
He pondered that decision for a few moments. Could he really trust that set of instructions that were no telling how old? He decided to go for it. He popped the cork. Sure enough, it was almost full of water. He walked over to the pump, poured it all into the pump, and grabbed hold of the handle. He began to work that pump again. At first, nothing came out.
Then, there appeared a trickle of water. He kept pumping and it grew into a larger stream. Suddenly, it was gushing with all the cool, flowing, wonderful water he could possibly want.
He filled the jug and drank it. He filled it and drank it again. He was marvelously refreshed. Then he remembered the note. He filled the jug again, put the cork back in place, and added his own little note to it: "Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away to get it back."
The man trusted what he was told and learned a valuable lesson in the desert that would also benefit others.
2. The Jewish people refer to themselves as “Desert People”
a. Place of Freedom – away from Egypt and Pharaoh
b. Place of learning who God is
c. Place of pruning (40 years until unfaithful died off)
d. Place of dependence on God
3. God’s Leaders Have Often Found Themselves in the Desert
a. Moses – 40/40
c. John the Baptist/Essenes
e. Paul – Galatians 1.11-20
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying, In the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
5. To Get Through the Desert We Must Follow the Path:
a. Human Perspective: “Wilderness Wanderings” – Lamentations 1.7
Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and wandering all the precious things that were hers from days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was none to help her, her foes gloated over her; they mocked at her downfall.
b. Divine Perspective: “God’s Leading” – Deuteronomy 2.1
“Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea, as the LORD told me. And for many days we traveled around Mount Seir.
I. Know the Path
A. It’s Not a Paved Sidewalk – Matthew 7.13-14
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.