A Lonely Place

Study No. 70

  In todayís world of big cities, and crowds of people at social, recreational, sports and religious events, it would certainly seem strange for one to say that an uninhabited place is where one occasionally needs to be, in order to come into contact with oneself and oneís Maker. Yet even a brief review of the New Testament should convince one of the validity of this fact. The Creator made us to be gregarious, to need other people. Yet at the same time, He also made us to need solitude, a lonely place, to recharge our spiritual batteries.

Jesus Christ, our example, was compelled by the Spirit to go into the wilderness. Here was where the righteous men of old, the prophets, such as Moses, were tried and fashioned in a fiery furnace to the fine gold desired by our heavenly Father. See Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13, Hebrews 11:37-40.

Modern evangelists use the electronic media and mass public meetings. Some even claim to be doing the work of Elijah. But is this what John the Baptist and Jesus Christ did?

John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judaea, John 1:23, Luke 7:24, not in the streets of Jerusalem. Often, the Savior also preached in the wilderness. The crowds came to them, not they to the crowds, Matthew 3:1-17, 11:7-15, Mark 1:1-8,45, Luke 1:76-80, 3:2-3.

Our Savior knew that there were times He and His disciples needed to be away from people in a desert or solitary place. The Greek word translated wilderness or desert is ereemia or ereemos, which Thayerís Lexicon defines as "solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited place." This could be a sandy desert, but also any wilderness or non-populated region.

Notice: "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed," Mark 1:35. See also Luke 5:16. At one time, the Savior told His disciples, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately" Mark 6:31-32. And as usually happened, the people found them out, and came to them in the desert, verses 33-36. See also Luke 9:10-13, Matthew 14:13-16. At one time, the Savior was a hunted man, so "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with His disciples" John 11:54.

As Moses was tried in the wilderness for forty years, so was the whole nation of Israel, the "church in the wilderness," Acts 7:20-44, 13:17-19. But Israel rebelled in the wilderness, I Corinthians 10:1-13, and was an example to us, Hebrews 3:7-12, John 6:31, 32, 49, 50; Acts 13:17-18. Being in the wilderness reveals true character. The gold is refined; the dross is burned away.

As the true character of the Messiah was revealed in the wilderness where He overcame Satan, so will our true character, likewise, one day be tested. The true church had to flee into the wilderness during the Middle Ages, Revelation 12:6. Again it is prophesied for her to go into the wilderness from the face of the serpent, where she is nourished for 3 1/2 times, Revelation 12:14. Is it significant also that John saw the false church, Mystery Babylon the Great, in the wilderness, Revelation 17:1-6?

Paul underwent many "perils in the wilderness," II Corinthians 11:26. Donít be surprised if similar perils happen to us! So, to prepare now for these coming "rough times." Go to a lonely place to fast and pray. Get close to the Almighty now. Be ready for your supreme test so you will be refined like gold, not being the dross. W


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