More than half of Israel’s land today is considered to be desert. The southern part of the country, the Negev desert, is scarcely populated and has limited vegetation.
It is not an easy place to live for either humans or animals. Nevertheless, what we don’t see at first glance is that the wilderness is stocked with hidden treasures.
The Israeli deserts have underground rivers, plenty of minerals and the unique wildlife is often protected by numerous national parks strategically spread over these seemingly unfavorable conditions.
In our human understanding, the wilderness is a test of survival. Our spiritual and emotional seasons “in the desert” make us feel vulnerable and we tend to despise the experience. But although the Bible does speak of facing challenges in the desert, it also depicts it as a setting for the greatest blessings – in the desert God revealed Himself to mankind; He would give people victory over their enemies and their own weaknesses.
In the Bible, the wilderness is often the meeting place between man and God.
God chose to fellowship with man in the wilderness. Led by the voice of God, Abraham settled in the desert and feasted with the Lord.
It was in the desert where God’s name was first revealed to Moses. The Creator of Heaven and Earth reveals His unfathomable, beautiful name to mankind in the wilderness. A place that the world equates with loneliness and abandonment has become a scene of the most profound encounter.
Interestingly enough, the Hebrew words for “desert” and “to converse” in present tense are spelled exactly the same. Hebrew letter equivalents of M-D-B-R can stand for both midbar (desert) and medaber (to converse). It is as if even linguistically the desert was to be the ideal setting for a conversation.
The Spirit of the Lord went before the Israelites by day and night when they wandered through the desert (Ex 13:21). God’s presence was always with them. In the desert, the Lord conversed with Moses face to face. Later, God instructed them to build an earthly dwelling place for His Name (Ex. 25:8)
It was in the wilderness where God first decided to have His name dwell among His people. In the desert, the prophet Elijah found rest and was strengthened by God. Years later the unlikely environment became a setting for the time of growth and learning for John the Baptist. Finally, Jesus Himself chose the wilderness to fast and pray.
If we choose to seek God’s presence, what had seemed dangerous at first becomes life-giving. The wilderness is no longer a place of isolation but of freedom. Next time when you feel like you’re wandering through the desert, take heart! Open your Bible and lift your eyes, because the desert is a place of conversation.