“And the child grew and became strong in spirit and was in the deserts until the day of his showing to Israel.” (Luke 1:80 MKJV)
A few weeks ago we celebrated Succoth, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. Jewish people, along with Messianic Jews (believers in Y’shuaJesus) remember and celebrate forty years of desert wandering after the exodus from Egypt. There are Christians who celebrate The Feast in Jerusalem each year, too. They do so to show kindness to Israel when so many of our world have turned cold shoulders to our brethren of the Bible. During The Feast small tents are built near homes, where meals are eaten and many sleep. Even Y’shuaJesus came to The Feast (John 7).
Once, years ago, a man told me that when The Messiah returns He will make the whole world a garden. I admit to arguing with him just to argue, saying I liked the desert. I was being difficult. Yet there remains my rather fond recollection of the beauty of Death Valley and the rain that enables flowers to sprout and grow, quickly flowering. There is a place called Bicycle Lake, near Death Valley, that is dry until the summer rain comes. The rain last only a short time, but fills the lake. Soon shrimp hatch, mate, and the offspring remain dormant as the water retreats, until the next rain. I remember the beauty of the Joshua trees and 100-foot- (32-meter-) high piles of boulders in the southern California desert. And there are the dunes near the Salten Sea, too. And I remember the way the wind caressed the sands of the Sahara.
But I’ve not lived long in such places. And I didn’t have to search from my water, for my food.
It was a harsh desert in which Israel wandered, in which a generation of disobedient people died. Yes, the LORD provided for His people while they wandered. But nonetheless, the wandered. We who know Y’shuaJesus as our savior realize we once lived in a sort of desert, too. Our old spiritual flesh had to die that we might cross the river into a spiritual promised land. Thus we were born again, spiritual re-birth.
The desert is also a place into which we escape. We get away from modern distractions, modern ways of living, get back to basics with G-d. Monks made pilgrimage to deserts to live in the harsh climate, to rely upon prayer and the Word of G-d for their sustenance. Y’shuaJesus went into the desert, where He was tempted after fasting forty days.
When we read of Israel’s wanderings in the desert we learn to look for things in our own life we must die to, things we must leave behind. When we remember things of our own lives we remember the way G-d has changed us. It is in this remembering that The Feast can have meaning for us today.
Reading the Book of Joshua, I was struck by this: when Israel crossed the Jordan, they had lost the mana of the desert, and ate the produce of the new land. It made me think about spiritual gardens and spiritual fruit. We are to cultivate our spiritual garden, fertilizing it with the Word of G-d, watering it with our tears. Furthermore, it seems to me that the spiritual fruit we grow, we are to give away. We are to plant and replant, letting our fruit grow, harvest it, and give it away. Is the fruit patience? We remember the times we were not patient. We read G-d’s Word on patience. We give patience away in our dealings with our family, friends, and (yes) our enemies.
Charles H. Spurgeon wrote: “. . . we are married unto Christ. He hath betrothed us unto himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Oh! marvelous mystery! we look into it, but who shall understand it? One with Jesus, so one with him that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, our Savior, and our Redeemer! While we rejoice in this, let us remember that those who are made partakers of the divine nature will manifest their high and holy relationship in their intercourse with others, and make it evident by their daily walk and conversation that they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. O for more divine holiness of life!”
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .