Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 100 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 4 today and our focus is on why God sends His people into the desert wilds. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Accra, Ghana, Karachi, Pakistan, Bavaria, Germany, Bihar, India, Los Angeles, California, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Our goal today is to understand how God leads us by learning from the Word and to learn how to thrive in the desert and be fruitful coming out of it, rather than being overwhelmed by it. I see a pattern in Scripture: Over and over and over, God sends His people into the desert wilds and meets with His people in the desert wilds. I see a pattern in MY life. Over and over, God sends me into the desert wilds…and it usually confuses me and messes me up, but the more I see in Scripture, and the more I look back on my life and the fruit of these desert times, the more I realize they are a great example of God working all things for my good. If God is going to CONFORM US TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, He might just lead us in a similar way that He led Jesus. Notice Matthew 4:1
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)
The big thing for us to see here is that Jesus – the Son of God – was LED by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness/desert. I guess we should say a word about the place that Jesus went, because I’ll probably flip back and forth between calling it the wilderness and the desert, and called it the ‘Desert wilds,’ in the title. The Greek Word Eremos is used in Luke 4 and it means deserted places, lonely regions, and is sometimes translated in the Bible as wilderness and other times as desert, and others as lonely or desolate places. More frightening, the word can also be used in the context of people and was used by many Greek writers in the sense of, “deserted by others; deprived of the aid and protection of others, especially of friends, acquaintances, kindred; bereft” it is where we get the word HERMIT from.
So – this does NOT sound like a good place to be in, right? And a big question we will grapple with today is why did the Holy Spirit SEND Jesus into the Desert Wilds?
It’s not just a question about the life of Jesus, either. As a pastor, I’ve often found it interesting that there is not much in the Bible that tells us exactly what a church service should look like – no service order, no length of time the sermon should go, not whether or not it’s okay to sing just Psalms, or to sing other songs as well, etc. Perhaps even more interesting, there’s not much in the Bible about how our lives as future followers of Jesus will look specifically…but there is a TON about how God has dealt with others, and we can learn immensely about God and His dealings with His people through the narrative passages of Scripture. Nothing in the Bible explicitly says that God will send you and I into the desert wilds multiple times in our life, but volumes of Scripture demonstrate that God does this to His people for GOOD REASON, and the fact that He did it to His perfect son Jesus should be very eye-opening for us. When we see how God deals with and leads other people in the Bible, we can learn a pretty good bit about how He will lead us.
Let’s read our passage, and see how Jesus stood strong against the temptations of the enemy in the wilderness by standing on God’s Word. If the Son of God fought the enemy in this way, you’d better believe we should too!
INTRO TO A BOOK ABOUT THE DESERT FATHERS: The desert was a place to come face-to-face with loneliness and death. Nothing grows in the desert. Your very existence is, therefore, threatened. In the desert, you are forced to face up to yourself and to the temptations in life that distract you from a wide-hearted focus on the presence of the sacred in the world. The desert is a place of deep encounter, not a place of superficial escape. It is a place that strips you down to the essentials, forcing you to let go of all the securities you cling to in life, even your images of God. The desert leaves you feeling alone, mortal, limited. Yet it is through the fierceness of this very experience that the desert elders saw a doorway to an encounter with a God who was much more expansive than anything believers imagined.
Christine Valters Paintner, ed., Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings—Annotated & Explained, SkyLight Illuminations Series (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2012), x.
HAS there been a time in your life where you felt abandoned? Either by friends, or by God? Maybe you felt like it was far more difficult to hear from God in that time, or you felt like you were wandering aimlessly in your life? Sometimes, this is a symptom of being in the desert wilds. I believe if God sent His son into the desert, that He will send us there too, and there are numerous examples of this in the Word of God. Think about Moses – exiled into the desert for killing an Egyptian in defense of a person being abused.
What Did Moses Learn about God in the desert wilds? HIS NAME, His character, His CARE FOR HIS PEOPLE, and HIS PRESENCE to go with MOSES.
Remember here that Moses was sent into the desert ABANDONED by his adopted people AND his blood people – on the run because of his sin. He went to live in a desolate place without friends, family or companions and MET GOD THERE. God OFTEN meets His people in the desert.
I take from this that God sends those He loves and is pleased with into the desolate wilds of the desert. IT IS NOT EASY. It is HARD. Painful sometimes, but if we love God and are called according to His purpose, God is working all things for our good, and if we don’t understand that sometimes He will take us into the desert wilds – a place of loneliness and pain….we will struggle to understand our lives.
LuKE 4:1 Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness….14 14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, being praised by everyone.
ASK: What is the difference between vs 1 and vs 14??
Origen Commentary 200s AD. : see what is written of the Spirit, emphatically and carefully. The passage says, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.” “Power” has been added, because he had trodden down the dragon and conquered the tempter in hand-to-hand combat. So ‘Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to the land of Galilee, and reports about him went out to the whole surrounding region.
So – the desert wilds are not going to be fun to go through, but going through these times in the wilderness – which are almost always longer than we’d like – means that we grow in the desert like nowhere else. Very often, the desert wilds of our lives are the places where God meets us the deepest, and where we learn about Him the most.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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