Holy Land,  Lent,  unexpected blessings

The Value of the Desert

I shared this devotion in worship this weekend and wanted to share it with all of you as well.

What is the value in the desert? This question was raised to our group as we toured the Holy Land this past holiday season. Sounds like an odd question to ask, because what could such a barren place possibly offer? 

For the Israelites, this was a wilderness full of wandering. For Jesus, he experienced temptation and fasting for 40 days. How could this place have any value?

Yet, God taught me about His provision of water in these desert places. 

In the Jordan River, Jesus was baptized by John to show us that God’s restorative care was for all. Psalm 23:1-3 came to mind:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (NIV)

God leads us to the waters of baptism to RESTORE us, identifying each of us as His own. 

We also visited the Dead Sea, which had a high current and waves on a wet, rainy day in the desert. In this place, I was reminded of how God shows us His power. Psalm 65:5-7 says:

“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.” (NIV)

In the midst of a dreary day, at a body of water with no earthly purpose, we saw God’s POWER. 

We visited a nature preserve called En-Gedi, which means “Spring of Ibex.” In this place was a waterfall where the priest Aaron was anointed to serve alongside his brother, Moses. Prophets were anointed to speak the truth God revealed to them and both King David and Solomon were also anointed in this place. Jesus came to be priest, prophet and King, fulfilling the Old Testament law. 

Each of these servants of God was ANOINTED to serve. This reminds me that we are also chosen by God to serve Him and our fellow neighbor with His message of love. 

God’s restoration, power and anointing came from His love for his people through his Son. Jesus came down into this desert place and became the living water that the world needed.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:10-14 (NIV)

The visit to all three of these places reminded me of verse one of a well-loved hymn:

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul” 

There is value in the desert because of the water of life brought by Jesus!

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