The Personal Wilderness 

“(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)” – Numbers‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭

Did you know that scripture records Moses as being the meekest man on earth, but he didn’t start out that way. In fact one of his first actions after stepping into the knowledge of his call was to kill a man in anger. He defended the beaten Israelite by striking down the Egyption that beat him, causing Moses to have to flee into a personal wilderness. In this personal wilderness Moses found his wife and spent 40 years tending his father in laws sheep while his self and pride was stripped away and he learned to be a humble selfless obedient servant of God.

Only once Moses himself had learned these lessons in his personal wilderness season, was he then qualified and commissioned by God to lead others through their’s, where they would have to learn the same lessons.

The Israelite’s spent 40 years in the wilderness learning the necessity of laying down self will for obedience to the will and wisdom of God, but Moses had to do it twice. Once for Himself to learn and then again to lead others in the learning of it. At times on this journey the Israelites would come to challenge Moses or the decisions that God had led him to make. They often proclaimed that they were just as holy as he or just as qualified to lead because they were all in this wilderness together, but what they failed to realize was that this was not Moses’s first wilderness, however it was there’s. Furthermore, they didn’t see the reality that Moses (having already gone through his own wilderness) did not have to be in this wilderness with them but was there in humble sacrificial obedience only to help lead them through their’s. In this did Moses have to endure two wildernesses while they only had to endure one.

This is a very real reason why scripture tells us not to envy spiritual leaders, teachers, and ministers. They can’t teach what they haven’t experienced for themselves, therefore must they endure great personal wildernesses that most don’t see in order to learn the lessons required to be able to lead others through their corporate wilderness that they do see. Not only are ministers held to a higher weight of accountability in eternity, but true called of God leaders also endure greater trial in this life for the sake of learning the deep lessons of God that they might transfer them to those that God entrust unto them. This wilderness college is God’s method of testing, training, and equipping those He desires to use. 

The wilderness is where you try everything your way and see how it doesn’t work, until you surrender to try it God’s way and see that it’s the only way that works. It’s where your independence is lost and dependence on God is gained. It’s where you learn to hear God’s voice, trust, and obey it. The first time Moses ever heard God speak was in his own personal wilderness, that by the time he had to lead others through their’s he was well versed in seeking, hearing, and obeying that he not act of his own will and lead them astray from God’s. 

Don’t try to get ahead of God and skip your wilderness or you’ll end up spiritually killing people instead of saving them. Before his personal wilderness Moses was rash, prideful, ambitious, arrogant, and he killed a man. After his wilderness he was the meekest man on earth and saved a nation. Don’t get ahead of God. Don’t forsake small beginnings. Don’t forsake the wilderness. 

“For who hath despised the day of small things? …” – Zechariah‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭

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The Wilderness Of Sin

“And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:” – Exodus‬ ‭16:1-2‬ ‭

God had just miraculously moved in mighty ways to deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh. God had brought them out of Egypt and defeated their enemies in the Sea before their very eyes. All of Exodus chapter 15 was a song of praise that they sang to God about how He had so moved to bring forth such undeniable and miraculous victories against their foes! Yet as soon as the singing stopped and chapter 16 begins we see that they went from praising God for His great power and might, right into the wilderness of Sin and began murmuring against Him, His methods, His wisdom, and even the very power that had just brought them this great victory. 

The name of this wilderness is by no means a coincidence. In the native tongue, it meant “thorns“. If you recall, thorns did not exist on the earth before sin, but came about because of sin (which is a lack of faith). When Adam and Eve lacked faith in what God said, they doubted what God had originally told them and sinned. Therefore, mans original sin was a lack of faith, or “unbelief“. Because of this “sin“, the ground was cursed and “thorns” came up making life very hard for Adam from then on (Genesis 3:18).

Therefore, this wilderness full of thorns was called Sin for they are one in the same, cause and effect. Therefore when Jesus bore our sin, did He bare also a crown of thorns. Jesus expounds upon this truth in His telling us of the good seed that was sown in thorny ground. He explains that the good seed is His word. It is planted and grows and even produces good fruit! This represents a person who has heard the word of God and received it! It was planted in them and began to manifest through them. It was producing fruit which is the evidence of the faith in our hearts manifesting from our lips and lives! But then these thorns come up and choke it out that it dies! Jesus tells us that the thorns are “the cares of this world”, in other words, fears, worries, doubts, distractions, deceitfulness of riches, a desire for the easy way. In other words, when things got less easy then they gave up the struggle, and the faith in them in what God had both told them and done, died. The thorns stirred up unbelief in the words that God had planted in them and even with the fruit of it laying right before them, they gave up and the thorns won and took over.

“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” – Matthew‬ ‭13:22‬ ‭

This is exactly what happened to the Israelite’s. God had told them to do something. He had given them the promise of victory and reward. He had proven His words with great deliverances and victories already! Yet even as the fruit of this lay right before them, as soon as the struggle started to get tough and faith was required to press on, they entered the wilderness of Sin, “the land of thorns”, unbelief sprung up, and they began to murmur their doubts against both Moses and God. Sadly, just like for Adam these thorns of sin would prove to make their lives very miserable from here on out. This began their wondering in the wilderness as they tried year after year to achieve victory their own way in their own strength by their own means and could not, for promise only comes by faith. Therefore was the Promised Land given only to those who chose to believe, having faith that overcame fear even when it didn’t make since. Fear of friends, fear of failure, fear of famine, fear of foes, fear of Giants, and fears of woes. Of the over two million who left Egypt, only two proved to have a faith bigger then all their fears, and of the original two million, only these two (Joshua and Caleb) entered into promise. 

Choose not to be overtaken by the sin of unbelief and die in the wilderness like the Israelites did. Choose to put those thorns under your feet and press on believing, no matter what! And don’t be surprised if it seems that almost no one else “believes” like you do. Almost no one else believed like Johsua and Caleb did and they all missed the promise because of it. There have always only been a few that truly dared to believe, and they were all thought fools for doing so, yet God calls them great before history, and in the end, called them friend and son, saying “well done, My good and faithful one“. 

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” – Matthew‬ ‭7:14‬

“But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” – Hebrews‬ ‭3:17-19‬ ‭

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭

“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” – Hebrews‬ ‭11:24-26‬ ‭