The Lessons of the Wilderness

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11

Upon redemption from Egypt and the subsequent baptism in the cloud and in the Red Sea the children of Israel entered the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). There are certain things that can best be learned in a wilderness. God knows this, and He uses the wilderness to educate, discipline, and edify His people. Just as God’s people in the Old Testament immediately entered the wilderness after their salvation, God’s people with a New Testament must also enter the wilderness. When someone comes to Christ we often warn them about the battle to come. Initially, a new believer does not face a battle as much as he or she experiences the wilderness. So, what is exactly learned in the wilderness?

The wilderness is a time for education. It is special time to receive the Word of God. Soon after the Children of Israel entered the wilderness Moses climbed Mount Sinai and God gave him the Law. It is important for Gospel workers to get the new believer into the Word of God as soon as possible. A babe in Christ is excited about the things of God and is hungry. This is the best time to receive the Word of God!

The wilderness is a time for discipline. God organized His people in the wilderness and taught them how to watch for His leadership in their lives (Numbers 9:16-18). God through His Spirit does the same thing in the life a new believer. He disciplines them and teaches them to watch and listen for his leadership. The voice of God is discerned in the wilderness!

The wilderness is also a time for edification. Can you imagine how much it took to feed 2-3 million Israelites in the wilderness? If each Israelite gathered about an omer (Exodus 16:17-18 – close to a quart every day) and if an omer equals about 1.5 pounds then they would have gathered around 3.75 million pounds of manna per day as a nation. Modern railway boxcars carry an average weight of 75,000 pounds. That much manna would fill 50 modern boxcars. The task of providing water for the people and their livestock in the wilderness is even more daunting. What was God doing; what was He teaching them? He was teaching them that their sufficiency was in Him. He was building them up in Himself through His provision and protection. Jesus Christ does the same thing today in the wilderness of a new believer’s life. He builds them up in the truth of 2 Corinthians 3:5, “…our sufficiency is of God.”

Did God intend for Israel to spend 40 years in the wilderness? Was it God’s intention for that first generation of redeemed Israelites to not enter into the Promised Land? No. Unfortunately many murmur, complain, and ultimately rebel in the wilderness. The Holy Spirit warns in 1 Corinthians 10:10, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” Many young Christians fall by the wayside because they fail to learn the lessons of the wilderness.

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