“And he was there in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by the Adversary, and he was with the beasts, and the messengers were ministering to him.” (Mark 1:13).
Angels and beasts.
In every trial, there are angels and beasts. Demonic strongholds and divine messengers. The Messiah comes out of the wilderness full of power. The Ten Words were given in the desert. In the desert, we are stripped down to nothing, but the Creator’s divine grace meets us there. It is in the desert that the Creator brings water bursting with life:
- He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into water springs. (Psalm 107:35).
- He opened the rock, and water gushed out; It ran in the dry places like a river. (Psalm 105:41).
- He split the rocks in the wilderness And gave them drink in abundance like the depths. (Psalm 78:15).
- He led you through the vast and terrifying wilderness with its venomous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty and waterless land. He brought you water from the rock of flint.(Deuteronomy 8:15).
- For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ (Messiah). But with most of them, God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. (I Corinthians 10:4-5).
The Father was not pleased with most of them. We read further and find out what destroyed them in the wilderness, and I would suggest we look closely because it’s the same things that destroy us. Paul says there are two cups we can drink. He calls one cup the cup of the Messiah, and the other cup, the cup of demons:
Now, these things happened as examples for us, so we wouldn’t crave evil things just as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” And let’s not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day, 23,000 fell. And let’s not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were destroyed by serpents. And let’s not grumble, as some of them did—and were destroyed by the destroying angel. Now, these things happened to them as an example, and it was written down as a warning to us—on whom the ends of the ages have come. (I Cor. 10:6-11, Tree of Life Version).
I don’t know about you, but I have grumbled a time or two.
Grumbling: the action or fact of complaining in a bad-tempered way: making a low rumbling sound—like a beast.
There isn’t much of anything on the list I can’t say I have never done. Like Johnny Depp, at times in my life, I have craved evil (Out of order) fleshly things. Sometimes we enter Death Valley and are not aware that we are there. We need to be rescued like the venturing pioneers who got lost in the desert in the late 1800s. Scouts came and rescued them. Young men with different vision. They remind me of Joshua and Caleb. They saw the giants and trusted that the Father would help them and give them the grapes–the wine–the oil. A bed of rest.
Bookends showcase two types of power. The desert, the battle of the fleshly nature, the temptation of fool’s gold, all that was conquered by fasting, prayer, and by Yeshua speaking the Word/Torah with authority. The Messiah told the adversary—the Goliath of the mind, to get behind him. The anointing that fell on the Messiah after the desert journey was so powerful it opened the eyes of the blind, opened deaf ears, raised the dead, and the Messiah spoke words that changed people from the inside out. By the end of the Messiah’s journey in his fleshly body, he will die to live and take on Spirit. The Messiah will be honored. He will not stay in the grave but sit at the Right Hand of the Father in glory. There is great POWER IN DEATH.
Death is something we repeatedly do. We go from the desert to the garden of Gethsemane– the oil press. An oil press consists of heavy stone slabs lowered onto olives already crushed in an olive crusher. Gradually, the weight of the slab squeezed the olive oil out of the pulp, and the oil ran into a pit. There the oil was collected in jars of clay. The pressing and the weight of the heaviness of the stones completely flattened the olives until there was no oil left.
NO OIL LEFT.
“They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region” Psalm 107:4 NASB
Dr Skip Moen explains the difference in a wilderness and a desert in his blog Dangerous and Divine:
In this verse, the word translated “wilderness” is not the same as the word for “desert region”. The difference may be important. “Wilderness” is midbar but “desert region” is yeshimon. Midbar describes particular places but yeshimon has the nuance of devastation and desolation, sometimes associated with the destruction caused by God’s punishment. Being in deserted places does not always mean desolation and devastation. But in this verse, David captures the full range. Israel was not wandering simply because they lacked a good map. They were wandering because they were experiencing God’s devastation.
You and I often follow the same trek across the empty places of life. It is not the lack of companionship or communication that causes us to agonize in our wilderness. The terror comes from the desolation and devastation that we experience in that place. Faces to the ground, tears without comfort, we begin to see the futility of our lives in our efforts to survive the wilderness. When God withdraws, we discover we are in a yeshimon, not the midbar.
Men today do everything possible to avoid these places. We fill our lives with the clutter of the city, the pace of exhaustion, the demands of the demons of work and money and time. We avoid silence and solitude, those fearful glimpses of our frail existence. We would rather leave the television on. But God has a purpose for yeshimon. Personal desolation violates our mythical self-sufficiency. The truth is that we are alone, completely alone, without God. Community is not the fabrication of human communication skills. It is the gift of grace. Without Him, the wilderness becomes yeshimon. Terrifying and Truthful.
Let go of your false protection. You will find the wasteland is but one step away. And there you will discover who you really are—and who keeps you. As frightening as it is, this is the first step toward freedom. God is in the midbar. Without Him, you and I are in the yeshimon. (For full blog click HERE)
Are you feeling the squeeze? Transitioning from one place to another? Trekking through the desert? Alone? Paul warns: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?” (I Cor. 10)
Oh, we are not stronger than He. Today if you find yourself looking for water in all the wrong places, drinking the cup of demons, thirsting with dusty dry eyes, take the Master’s Hand. Sit by Jacobs well and leave your cracked water pot, your past, your religion, your mountain that is unimportant, and drink living water. Living water flows. It’s not stagnant.
Oh, Messiah, take our cracked lips, our dry, thirsty skin, our broken, bloody conditions, our naked open wounds, and those who cross the street when we require oil and wine. Please take our mess, mistakes, impaired judgment, gossip, bitterness, complaining, and sickness, and let us sit at the well in the desert. May we pour out the cup of demons, and drink the cup of Messiah, both cups. Drink up and die. Then drink up and feel life enter our bodies. Feel the womb of water surrounding us in your care. Feel our leprous skin like Naaman’s become like the soft skin of a newborn child. May we allow the Messiah to bandage our wounds, pour in the oil and wine, and remember that sometimes the Messiah comes through people, men like the Samaritan. Men and women who look different than we expected. Men who don’t believe everything we do. Men who have thrown out some of the books and teachings. Men we might have judged wrongfully. Men of flesh taking the same journey we all take.
“On the parable of the Good Samaritan: “I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
― Martin Luther King Jr.,
By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbor. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbor, and you must love your neighbor.”
― Timothy Keller,