John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. (Luke 1:80 NLT)
John right from his childhood lived up to His motto, “He (God) must increase and I (soul) must decrease!”.
The “I” he knew was his soul, which is his self will, emotion and intellect – these he made sure decrease; meaning these will not be strong enough to overcome his decisions and purpose for his life!
For this reason, he forced himself to live in wilderness where there is not much appetite for his flesh and until his soul (self will, emotions and intellect) submits to his calling.
As soon as he dominated his self, his spirit became strong by the power of God’s Spirit and His word – sharp enough to discern and pinpoint accurately the Lamb of God Jesus Christ, the Messiah to the whole world!
A great preparation was needed for that great calling and the great life of John the Baptist, it wasn’t automatic because God said so. Are we getting ready?
You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” Luke 1:14-17
But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. (Exodus 40:37 NLT)
One important thing as a child of God we need to understand that we never become stronger to live without God’s guidance.
Every time we do things of our own ignoring God’s will we become vulnerable – yet, thanks to His mercy that come and find us!
Nevertheless, when we are in wilderness it is our responsibility to wait on God to tell if we make a move or not irrespective of comforts or discomforts we have in that place.
The wilderness seasons are not an exception that we can’t do what we want to do, but it’s a training ground to perfect and practice the fear of the Lord – only to keep it for the rest of our life!
Joseph and Daniel were brought into a foreign land each in their time as mere slaves when they were young and able – but both chose not to rebel in their wilderness season and waited upon God.
God, Who knew how and when to make the right move – one day, made them to become second-in-command in that foreign nations because they learnt to fear God and resolved in their hearts never to leave Him!
This is God’s plan for everyone who dare to persevere to do His will in their toughest time.
So, if the cloud doesn’t move you don’t move; when it moves you move. It’s that simple!
I am only a foreigner in the land. Don’t hide your commands from me! I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Psalm 119:19, 28, 30, 33
When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1 NLT)
Following God’s leading could be very anxious if our lives are not surrendered to Him and there is a lack of trust in our part.
People of Israel were very anxious. All these time they lived as slaves in Egypt and “served” God in their terms, but now they were required to trust God in everything – literally everything!
This trusting relationship with God was too much for them as they were not willing to surrender to this new way of life – it was simply not comfortable for them!
As a result, they became restless and ready to appoint gods for themselves so they can please their flesh and fulfill their lust.
This is what spirit of idolatry does – it looks for those moments we become impatient, feel rejected, disappointed or feel void (notice, all these are either feelings or emotions nothing is real) and tempt you to bow down to anything other than God.
The only way to overcome the spirit of idolatry is to worship God in spirit (not in flesh) and in truth (not in feelings and emotions) – such act of worship is true surrender!
But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest. Hebrews 3:19
Slavery for the Israelites ended on Day-1 they got out of Egypt by the plan & power of God, but entering into rest required their total obedience and trust in God.
“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your heart…” is the message/warning all along for the Israelites. God spoke to them all, they all heard him, but some hardened their hearts and perished in the wilderness.
God’s deliverance is not the real freedom. The real freedom comes as we obey after that deliverance. This is the rest God promised!
Such rest is a rest from bondages, fears, failures, poverty, sickness, emptiness, loneliness and death.
Jesus Christ thru’ His total obedience has bought this rest for us. Our only work to enter into this rest is to believe!
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28