The wilderness is a place of solitude. It’s a place of uncertainty, where one can find themselves at their most vulnerable and God at his strongest. The wilderness is where Moses spent 40 years after being called by God to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. Throughout his life, he received many instructions from the Lord on how to lead this new nation into freedom. In fact, there are over 100 verses in the Bible about Moses and the wilderness experience!
Section 1: On Being Called by God
God In The Wilderness
1. THE SAVORY PASTORAL
It was in the wilderness that Moses learned what it meant to be God’s servant.
The wilderness wasn’t a place of punishment, as we may have been taught in Sunday school, but rather a place of testing, preparation, and freedom from the oppression of Egypt: “Now Israel had lived in Egypt for eighteen years; and all the men who were over twenty years old, and all those who were born in the land of Egypt, died.” (Exodus 12:40) In other words, there were many babies who were spared during this time period because they were too young to know anything about Pharaoh’s rule or slavery. These babies went on to become leaders of their people through their wisdom and courage as they fled Egypt with God leading them through His power.
2. The Call of Moses
There is a biblical story that tells of God’s call to Moses. You should read it sometime. It’s interesting, and it will help you understand how God works.
Moses was born a prince in Egypt. One day, his mother put him in a basket and sent him down the Nile River because she didn’t want her son to be killed by others who feared his royal bloodline (the pharaoh had ordered all male babies born with royal bloodlines dead).
God saw this child floating down the river and called out to him: “I am your Father.” The baby responded: “Who are you?” God replied: “I am your Father.” Then he said it again for emphasis—and again for good measure! When Moses asked what he meant by saying that he was his father, God told him that He would lead Moses into Pharaoh’s court so that they could free His people from slavery there (this was called The Exodus). When they got there though…well…let’s just say Pharaoh wasn’t particularly happy about being told what to do by someone who claimed to be His own Son but looked nothing like Him!
3. Moses and the Burning Bush
Moses was an ordinary man who God called to be his servant. The Bible says that he was a man of God, a prophet, and a leader with courage. Moses was also a teacher who shared his faith in the Lord with others.
In this passage of scripture we see Moses as an ordinary person who encounters God in the wilderness:
- A burning bush that burns but is not consumed by fire
- The voice of God speaking to him from this bush
4. The Plagues of Egypt
The plagues of Egypt are a series of ten miracles that God performed to demonstrate his power and glory.
The first nine plagues were intended to show Pharaoh that he should free the Israelites from slavery. The tenth plague was intended to show them how serious God is about his people being set free.
God showed this by performing these ten miracles:
- turning water into blood; 2) killing all the livestock in Egypt; 3) turning frogs into lice; 4) making it so there was no rain for three weeks; 5) making flies come upon Egypt’s land; 6) sending boils on all people who had been bitten by wild animals (the boils would itch so bad that they wouldn’t be able to sleep at night); 7) bringing hail down on all fields throughout Egypt (with hail stones ranging from golf ball size up through softball size); 8) pain in men’s stomachs so bad they couldn’t eat or drink anything without feeling worse than when they started eating/drinking stuff again afterward (instead of going up, their appetites went down even further); 9), death by hail falling 70 days straight onto anyone outside their homes (this meant people had 70 days worth of food left inside their homes). 10), darkness covering every man, woman, and child inside or outside city walls whenever they wanted light during daytime hours until noon when someone finally told Moses what happened while everyone else just stood around waiting for some explanation.”
5. The Exodus
The Exodus was a time when the presence of God was among the people. He gave them direction and answered their prayers. The book of Exodus states that God’s presence was with Moses and his brother Aaron as they led the Israelites out of Egypt, but it does not specifically say how or why.
The reason for this is because God’s presence was also with each person who fled from Egypt—and it still is today!
God has been present in each step you have taken toward freedom from your past and your current sins, just as He was with Moses when he left Egypt.
6. At the Red Sea
As you know, God parted the Red Sea to save the Israelites from Pharaoh’s army. The Israelites crossed the sea on dry land and were saved by this great miracle. But what is less known is that God also saved them from Pharaoh’s army as they attempted to cross back into Egypt after their escape. As soon as they entered the Egyptian territory, God caused all of their pursuers—hundreds of thousands of men—to be swallowed up by the earth behind them!
God can do anything He wants to do. He chose not only to save His people in this way but also to protect them while they were crossing into Egypt itself.#ENDWRITE
7. At Mt. Sinai
- God’s presence at Mt. Sinai
In Exodus 19, Moses ascends Mount Sinai to meet with God. As he goes up the mountain, he sees the people in a state of panic because they fear that God will punish them for their wickedness and unbelief (Exodus 19:9-20). The people have been worshipping idols and false gods, but they are afraid that this will lead to their destruction by their angry god.
When Moses arrives at the summit of Mount Sinai, he sees a cloud cover it from view (Exodus 19:9-18). As we see in Deuteronomy 4:11-12 and 34:1-4, this cloud was described as shining brightly due to its glory or brightness emanating from within it. This description of light is fitting because we know from other passages in Scripture that light represents truth and purity (Isaiah 8:20; 1 John 1:5), which God revealed through His words spoken through Moses during His time at this mountain throughout Exodus 20 through 24.
8. At Kadesh-Barnea
Now, we believe that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed God. He did not trust God. And the reason why God would not let him enter the Promised Land was because of this disobedience and lack of trust in Him.
We also believe that it is possible for you to make these same mistakes! You can disobey God and then have this happen to you: “He has become a god unto Himself.” This means he has been lifted up with pride, thinking highly of himself without any regard for God who made him or His authority over his life. Again I say: If you are going through trials right now, don’t think of yourself as being left by God; rather think about how much He loves you and wants only what’s best for you!
9. You can find God in the wilderness
You can find God in the wilderness.
You’re in the wilderness and you look around, there’s nothing but rock and dirt and sand as far as the eye can see. But then you turn around and look back at where you came from. There is a city of glass with streets made of gold; there are buildings that reach up so high they touch heaven itself! And when we walk through these streets with Jesus, we too will be able to say “I have seen what I have seen…and now I know that no one knows where he lives except those who are born of him!”
God is the most amazing creature in all of creation. He is the creator of everything and everyone, but he also lives among us as human beings. God came to earth for the purpose of showing us what it means to be truly alive and connected with others. In doing so, he shows us how we can live our lives in peace and love.
John 1:1-2; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 11:1-3; Job 38-40; Psalms 147, 148