I don’t know about you, but during the early days of this virus wreaking havoc in the earth, my inbox and Facebook page were awash with prophetic voices declaring what God was doing. There was so much noise!!!! And yet, I felt that God was saying this was a time for being at rest with Him in the stillness and hearing what He had to say.
I was also unsure about a number of words that spoke of God miraculously bringing this pandemic to an end at Passover. Don’t get me wrong, if that was what God was going to do I would have been praising and celebrating with everyone else and declaring God’s mighty works. However, I was reminded that when the people left captivity in Egypt, their lives, to a certain extent got harder. They didn’t know where they were going, they didn’t know how they were going to eat and drink and they had lost all their normal boundaries and routines. It seemed to me like that was what we were heading into, not coming out of.
As I meditated on this I began to see that actually our slavery was not the “lockdown” but the life we had been living prior to “lockdown”. Many of our lives were stuffed full with the requirements and demands of others or even those things which we had added to our lives that we now thought were essential! Could it be that what God wanted to do was lead us out of this captivity into a wilderness where we would only have Him and us?
Two weeks ago we celebrated Passover. It was rather different this year as instead of gathering around a table we assembled on a screen (thanks to Zoom). Every year when we gather for our Passover Seder I am amazed by how Jesus fulfilled every detail of the feast. How He became our Passover Lamb and rose again as the first fruit offering. However this year I felt drawn to consider how, after he had been resurrected, He spent 40 days with his disciples and then left them to wait for the coming Holy Spirit 10 days later at Shavuot (Pentecost). These 7 weeks are the wilderness days – the time it took for Moses and the huge community that came out of Egypt with him, to travel through the wilderness to their appointment with Yahweh on Mount Sinai. I felt God wanted me to focus on what happened to these people as they escaped Egypt – that in the same way He taught His disciples many things during this time, so He wanted to show me new things from His word.
In Exodus 13:17-22 we see the first part of their journey.
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness towards the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
What struck me was that they were equipped for war but God didn’t lead them into battle lest they should be afraid. Instead He led them into the wilderness where He guided them with His presence – a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. In this season I believe the place to be is in the wilderness with Him not on the battle ground in our own strength. Like the disciples after the resurrection, we want to spend time with God to gain revelation from Him, to allow our “hearts to burn within us as he talks to us and opens up the scriptures.
Luke 24:32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
As we enter into the wilderness this has been my heart’s desire and I am loving the little revelations and conversations that have become part of this journey. Some have come in my personal times with the Lord and others have come as we’ve been in the prayer room each morning. As we have worshipped and meditated and prayed from the scripture new insights are striking my heart.
In the coming days I’ll be sharing these little insights and I’d also love to hear what God is sharing with you as we journey through the wilderness.