Tradition says that John the Baptist went into the wilderness at 14 years of age. He went alone and some say he never saw his family again. It is believed (and there is archeological evidence to back this idea) that he lived in a cave near Beth Ha-Karim, west of Jerusalem. There is a pool of water just outside the cave with carvings of baptisms etched on the cave walls.
The Bible tells us that he lived off of wild honey and locusts. His handmade clothing was made from camel’s hair and he wore a leather belt. John was the original wilderness man, in today’s language he might be called a “survivalist” or “mountain man.”
God has been doing His deepest work in the wilderness and desert since the beginning of recorded time. From Abraham, Moses, and David to Jesus, God has sent his best to the wilderness.
It’s interesting that none of these men chose to go, but were driven into the wilderness, either by circumstance or calling. Abram was called out from the city of Ur to the wilderness of Canaan. It was in the wilderness that Abram became “Abraham,” the father of nations.
Moses was literally driven out of the familiar and comfort of Pharaoh’s court in Egypt to the wilderness of Midian. After 40 years of living in the wilderness, Moses received his calling on the desert mountain of Horeb.
David escaped to the wilderness as a young man of around 13 years of age. He would live the next 17 years on the run as an outlaw of Saul’s court. Almost all of David’s poems were written in the wilderness.
Is there something about the wilderness that God uses in a man’s life to forge and transform his heart? Is the wilderness a place of holiness like no other? More on that next time.
In the Wilderness,
This weekend Steve is in the wilderness of Colorado with a group of “wilderness men” on a Worshipper&Warrior retreat, Wilderness Encounter.