Instead of arriving in Canaan within a matter of days or even a few weeks, they ended up living in the wilderness for forty years. Now while this particular length of time was due to their sin, it is important to note that God did not immediately whisk them off to Canaan as soon as they left Egypt nor did He remove all of their challenges.
Shortly after they left, they had their first real big challenge. Pharoah's army. Can you imagine the fear these people must have felt when they realized a very powerful army was coming after them? These people weren't soldiers. They were ordinary men, women and children facing an army. What's more, they were trapped between the army and the sea.
They were about to learn that when there is no way out, there is God. He truly is our Deliverer! Dry land appeared where there had been no dry land moments before. When their enemies attempted to pursue them along that path, they were destroyed. The lesson they learned that day applies to us as well. While we may not have Egyptians chasing us, we do have an enemy who is sometimes visibly at work and at other times not.
The area where they were wandering was incapable of sustaining a vast number of people. Some scholars estimate there may have been as many as two million Israelites who traveled from Egypt to Canaan. Without God's protection and provision, they would not have been able to survive. It was in the desert, that they learned who God was and they learned of His great love He had towards them.
Our "desert moments" remind us not only of who we are; they remind us of who God is. We are weak but He is strong. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. Nothing can pluck us from His hand nor can anything separate us from the love of God. Though we are pressed we are not crushed. Though we are persecuted, we are not abandoned. Though we are struck down, we are not destroyed. Greater is He that is within us; than he that is in the world.
It is out on the desert that we learn that Love never fails and perfect love casts out all fear. We learn that God supplies all our needs and that He hears our every cry.
These lessons cannot be truly learned, resting in a lounger beside a pool in an oasis. If you want to grow as a Christian, it means you will have to spend some time with God... out in the desert. When you do, remember this. He is the God of the desert as well as the God of the oasis or the promised land. He provides nourishment when there is no visible food or water. He does not get rid of the heat of the sun but He does protect us from it. Though the chill and the darkness of the night may descend upon us, He lights our way and we are wrapped in the warmth and security of His love. When confronted by our enemies, He is our defender and either provides a way of escape or empowers us to stand up against the enemy and fight. Either way, we are victorious through Him. The "desert" not only teaches us who God is; it also serves to remind us of who He is.
If we are going to follow Christ, we are going to be led on desert paths at times. When we are, let us remember... He is also God of the Desert.
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