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Written by Tom Neyhart-
We are continuing on from the last post Desert Part 1 where we discussed how God uses the desert we go through in life to shape and mold. There is a passage from Isaiah 32 that has new meaning since my Israel trip in 2016. If we stop and look around at the people we know in our church, and in our community, we will see so many who are in deserts of their own. As followers of Christ, we are put in a unique situation.
Isaiah 32:1-2 reads:
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
and princes will rule in justice.
2 Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
a shelter from the storm,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Jesus being the only King who actually reigns in complete righteousness, then we as heirs of God and disciples of Jesus would be the princes (and princesses) who rule in justice. I don’t think this is justice as we would understand it in the court system. The words of verse two suggest what it looks like to rule in justice. We are to be like a hiding place, a place of refuge, a refreshing stream and the comfort of the shade. Never is this made clearer than when you are in the heat, rocks, and sand of a literal desert.
As followers of Jesus, are we these things to those who are in the desert?
We can walk along side of those who are struggling, those who are in deserts for what ever reason. We can be comfort, peace, love, we can be the shade of a great rock or the stream of water, and we are definitely in a weary land right now.
This doesn’t mean we try to rescue people from their desert, or bail them out of their circumstances… this is important… they still need to go through it to be shaped and molded. We all do and it is usually no fun. But, how much better is it to have someone there to lift you up, to encourage, to show empathy, to show love, to walk beside you. That is what I feel this passage calls us to.
This is one of my favorite photos from my trip taken at Ein Gedi after a long hot day in the desert. This oasis pops up out of now where and is a refreshing relief in the Judean Wilderness. It is a reminder that I can be an Ein Gedi to others, or I can let them suffer through their own desert alone.
Who can you be an oasis for? As you encounter people today, tomorrow, this week, ask God to reveal those in your path that you can uplift and encourage. Ask God to be an oasis to someone.
Written by Tom Neyhart-
Deserts are hot, there is no way around it, and the heat just radiates off of the sides of the rocks and sand. If we think Indiana summers are hot, we haven’t got anything on the heat of the desert.
On our Israel/Turkey trip last year we spent several days in the desert wilderness. One thing that was amazingly clear to me was the amount of water needed to survive the heat and dryness. When ever we would come to the slightest bit of shade it would feel like a drastic temperature difference.
We had a significant benefit that the Israelites did not have in their 40 years of wandering. We had water packs that could carry a three or more liters of water, we would return to an air-conditioned bus after our hikes then head to a hotel to eat supper, shower, and sleep.
There is an obscure passage in Exodus that I know I have read before but never really realized the significance until I was in the same desert the Israelites were in.
Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”
The path through the Philistine country would have been shorter with plenty of water and food sources. The land was lush and green, running along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. So why would God lead them into the desert? He led them into the desert to shape and mold them into his people. The land of Goshen in Egypt is one of the most fertile places on the planet. Recent Science estimates that the topsoil depth of the area is between 70- 100 feet deep. The second most fertile place on the earth is in Iowa with around 6 feet of topsoil. When faced with war, I can understand why they would return to Egypt when they lived in the most fertile place on the planet.
The Israelites needed to learn to trust God, they needed to become his people so they could show to the other nations the One true God.
The question becomes what desert has God taken you through to shape and mold you? God loves us so much that he works to shape and mold us and helping us grow in our faith. We can trust his love, and hold on to the hope that above all else, he loves his people. This was one of my favorite lessons from the desert.
Hear O Isreal, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow