The enemy of your soul will do all he can to say you haven’t done anything with your life and it simply isn’t true. God has done amazing things through you the great and the small and you should be thankful. And the good news is there is more to come. Most probably the highlights of your life have been the moments when you remained focused on the person God created you to be and you positioned yourself or created the context so that you could give of your best.
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea.” (Matthew 3 v 1)
John, son of Zechariah, yes that’s true. But he was known as John the Baptist because that is what he did. Of course he never called himself that. Nor did he call himself John the Christ or John the Prophet as we discover in John’s gospel. He described himself as a voice calling in the wilderness. Matthew will tell us this soon. The whole world knew him as the Baptist but he thought of himself as a voice. The world wasn’t wrong but what he thought of himself would be what sustained him. If he had truly believed he was the Baptist then when the crowds stopped following him and started following Jesus and the baptisms decreased (see John 3:26) John could have been jealous. But he tells us that we must decrease and Jesus increase. What you think of yourself can block your way. His identity was a voice. We will eventually get to Matthew 14 where on being arrested his baptism ministry had certainly dwindled in size and what was left was his voice. He certainly wasn’t baptising in prison, put there because he spoke up against Herod Antipas divorcing his wife and had taken his brother, Philip’s wife. His voice, his identity, stayed with him to the end. It is important to know who you are and not let your world move you away from what is your true identity.
Where are you positioned? I have started to play chess recently after many years. The aim is to corner the King so that he cannot move without being destroyed. You do that by getting your pieces into position.
John had positioned himself in the wilderness ready for God. There is no better place than the wilderness. The wilderness is a special place for us in the Bible because it teaches us many lessons from the story of the Israelites. For years we have been preached at to get out of the wilderness but for the Jew they long to be there for it is where God met them the most.
The wilderness years were not wandering years. Nearly 1 year was spent at Mount Sinai where Moses was up and down the mountain getting revelation and instruction for the building of the tabernacle. They then at the foot of Sinai built the tabernacle and then moved on. But for 38 years they were in Kadesh Barnea because spies had brought a bad report, they never moved on and a generation died. Their total travelling time took less than 2 years arriving at the Promised Land with a fresh generation of leaders. It was the wilderness where they died except for 2 men, Joshua and Caleb.
The goal of the Exodus was to take Egypt out of the Israelites. The people at the Exodus are a fearful and frightened people. By the time they get to the Jordan they are ready to fight as an army. It was the wilderness that changed them.
‘Wilderness’ in Hebrew is ‘Midbar’ and it means ‘word’. Where did the Torah (first 5 OT books) come from? It wasn’t from Egypt nor the Promised Land. Where did they encounter God? It was the wilderness where revelation was given and they experienced God.
Further to this we know from Jewish history that the Maccabean armies launched their attacks from the wilderness and that other groups of orders such as the Qumran lived in the desert.
John had purposely left his parents and gone into the desert of Judea to live. This was the context for where he would develop his identity, his voice, in order to fulfil the reason for his life.
Maybe today you will need to make positional decisions to create the context for the next chapter of your life. Maybe you already have and you can describe it as a wilderness. It is probably the best place for you right now.
Your identity and your context are crucial so that the reason for you being here can be fulfilled.