Matthew 3:1-5 1 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
3 The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,
“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’” 4 John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. 5 People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.
Jesus went to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil according to the Gospel of Matthew. He fasted for 40 days and nights prior to his temptation. He became empty of fleshly provision. He was physically alone, he had no “creature comforts,” not even food. Another interesting part about Jesus in the wilderness is that He was led there by the Spirit.
Hosea 2:14 says, “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.” Another translation for desert is wilderness. Noticing that verse 14 is not the beginning of the story especially when it starts with, “But then.” First the sinful one was stripped of fleshly provision and all of the filth that she clung to. Then He would allure her to the wilderness. Lead her to the wilderness. This unfaithful one did not have anything to cling to in that setting but the one who drew her there in the first place.
What is the significance of the wilderness? I believe the wilderness in these 2 settings is a place of abandon. It is a place of allowing nothing to interfere with communion between the one doing the alluring and the allured. When John the Baptist was in the wilderness, it could be said that he lived a simple life. He did not have worries of clothes and food and family. He ate locusts and wild honey. He cried out to prepare the way of the Lord. Is it a similar type of abandon that John had reached when he began to cry out. Could he have been a voice crying out in the city with gold rings and braided hair and fine linens? The question is rhetorical as I don’t have the answers.
Consider this of your personal walk with the Lord and the things He has called you to. As I worship, as I intercede, I must come to the end of myself and press in to Him. As Jesus was fleshly empty, He was prepared to overcome temptation. As the bride in Hosea was stripped of everything and in a wilderness place, she was restored and trouble was turned to hope. John the Baptist called out from that place, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” I believe God is ready to release a breakthrough, but it will come from that place of wilderness - that place of abandonment within His Bride.
I may not quote this properly, but the way I heard an evangelist recently was that we need intercessors. She said that there are many who just want to be on the worship teams, but not many craving to be intercessors. I would have to agree with that statement in this, I am now an intercessor, but it was not always that way. I desired to be a musician and became a worshipper. Through the connection with God that I found in my worship, I cannot help but be an intercessor. I crave the connection, but it doesn’t always come in a musical form. There are sometimes when all of that is stripped away and all I have is a heart’s longing to connect with I AM. The Spirit of God groans within me. It is from that intimate place of wilderness where the breakthrough comes.
Sometimes, the whole idea of wilderness or desert sounds intimidating or like gall. I would rather not endure the stripping away of fleshly provision. Fasting for 40 days seems insane. Having my shame exposed to the community seems unbearable. Even still, whatever it may look like, I want to be in that place of undistracted devotion. I want to be in that place of crying out. I don’t want to walk away downcast like the rich young ruler who just heard that he must give his possessions to the poor to be saved.
Come, Lord, Jesus!