of the Wilderness
"Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius
Caesar ... Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the
word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness"
Annas and Caiaphas should have received, in the temple,
the word of the Lord. However, the Lord by-passed them and
spoke, in the wilderness, to John. The Lord, unable to find
a channel that could hear His voice, used the wilderness to
prepare a voice through whom He could announce the first appearing
of the Messiah.
Why did the Lord choose the wilderness? We often think of
the wilderness as a place where people go through a time of
difficulty. It is usually thought of as being a place where
the "presence" of the Lord cannot be felt, or where
the "rain" of the Holy Spirit does not fall. It
is considered to be a place of dryness and barrenness, both
naturally and spiritually.
Yet, from time to time the Lord brings us into a wilderness
experience. The wilderness should not be thought of as a barren
place. It becomes a wonderful place when we begin to understand
all that the Lord can accomplish within us during this time.
What is the wilderness? It can be defined in one word: "Separation."
Here, the Lord is able to deal with us concerning all of the
ambitions and drives that are within us. In the barrenness
of the wilderness, He is able to take initiative within our
lives and separate us unto Himself.
When we view the wilderness as a place of separation unto
the Lord, we will see that it has great value and purpose.
Consider the children of Israel as they were led out of Egypt,
through the Red Sea, and into the wilderness. There were different
levels of separation in this journey. The most obvious one
is the Red Sea. God opened the way through the Sea. As they
reached the other side, the waters closed upon the Egyptians.
There were no more bricks to be made. Now, they were to abide
under the cloud of glory by day and the pillar of fire by
However, they began to murmur. This was to have been a time
of preparation, being made ready to possess the land that
was before them. The pulls of Egypt had been left behind and
they were closed in with the Lord Himself. This is the purpose
of the wilderness. However, Israel failed to understand this.
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her
into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I
will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Ach
or for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the
days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out
of the land of Egypt" Hosea 2:14-15.
The Lord is portraying Himself as a husband whose wife has
been unfaithful. She has been distracted by the pull of things
that steal her affections from Jehovah. Yet, the Lord seeks
to restore her and separate her to Himself. "And I will
visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense
to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her
jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith
the LORD" Hosea 2:13. This is expressive of the experience
that many of us go through, even after we knew the Lord. We
are pulled in other directions. The Lord's cure for this is
expressed in verse fourteen, "Therefore, behold, I will
allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably
The word "comfortably" means "heart."
The Lord is saying, "I will speak my heart to her."
He removed the distractions by taking her away from Egypt,
which speaks of the pulls of the world. The purpose of the
Lord in the wilderness is to separate us from "things"
and cause us to know Him and His voice personally and intimately.
The preparation of John the Baptist in the wilderness is a
type of what the Lord is seeking to do within us during this
present time of transition.
The Song of Solomon speaks prophetically of the Bridegroom,
the Lord Jesus Christ, and of His beloved bride, the Church.
The question is asked, "Who is this that cometh up from
the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" SS 8:5. This
"leaning" speaks of a dependence and trust that
had been developed during a wilderness experience.
Again, we see the purpose of the wilderness. It provides
an atmosphere in which we have no choice except to get close
to Him. Here, He is able to begin sharing His heart with us.
If we are leaning upon Him, we can get no closer. John the
beloved leaned and laid his head on the breast of Jesus. Here,
he heard His heartbeat. Jesus could whisper to John because
of this intimacy that had developed.
Why is it that the word of the Lord came to John, and not
to Annas and Caiaphas? It was because John the Baptist gave
himself to a period of separation. He heard the voice of the
Lord alluring him into the wilderness and responded to this
time of separation. He left all that he might be alone with
God. John began to hear the heartbeat of God as the Lord began
to speak His heart to him. "I will allure her and speak
my heart unto her."
We do not know how long this took, or all that was required
of John. But, he was willing to give himself to the Lord.
Why did not the priesthood hear from the Lord? A verse in
Jeremiah gives us some understanding of this. "For my
people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the
fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken
cisterns, that can hold no water.
The spiritual leaders of that day were drinking from broken
cisterns. Somewhere, they forsook the Lord and broke communion
with Him. The rain had fallen at one time upon the house of
Israel and they were still drinking from that cistern which
only spoke of a former day. They were not ready to hear a
"present word" concerning the coming appearing of
the Lamb of God.
We cannot rest in a past visitation, or word from the Lord.
There must be that continual listening for a present word
from the Lord. There must be a present receiving from the
Fountain of Living Waters. Only then will we be qualified
to minister the word of the Lord.
When the Lord begins to rain His blessing upon us, we hold
up our cup until it is filled. If we remain satisfied with
this, then five years later we will still be saying, "I
received this cup of water from the Lord, would you like a
drink?" Five year old water does not taste at all good.
However, if we cultivate a link with the Fountain of Living
Water, we will have water that will be fresh each day.
John was allured into the wilderness, where God spoke His
heart to him. What was the result of this processing that
took place in the wilderness? "And this is the record
of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem
to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not;
but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What
then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that
prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who
art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us.
What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one
crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord,
as said the prophet Esaias" John 1:19-23.
John could have said that he came in "The spirit of
Elijah." Jesus said of him that he was Elijah that should
come. However, in hearing the heart cry of the Lord, John
found that his identity had been consumed. He lost himself
in the burden of the Lord. Psalm 69 tells us, "For the
zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." While John was
alone in the wilderness, the spark that quickened his heart
concerning the burden of God's heart grew and grew until it
consumed him and he became the "voice of one."
John said, "I heard Him alluring me into the wilderness
and I went. The Lord birthed within my heart the cry of His
heart and it consumed everything that was within me. I have
become the expression of the voice that you have not heard
for hundreds of years. He was still crying and I went out
The Lord desires to bring each one of us to the place where
we will be able to hear this cry. We can be content with,
or so busy with the program within the temple that we do not
hear His alluring call into the wilderness. Annas and Caiaphas
knew the written word of God, but did not hear the voice of
the Lord. John the Baptist probably did not know the written
word as well as they, but he allowed the Lord to separate
him unto Himself so he would be able to hear the very heart
beat of God.
The Lord is calling out a people who are willing to be separated
unto Him. The wilderness is not a physical place; rather it
is an attitude of heart. "He was taken from prison and
from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he
was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression
of my people was he stricken" Isaiah 53:8. There is a
challenge here. Are you willing to be one who is "cut
off" from the land of the living, and separated unto
Him in the wilderness that you might become one to declare
The Lord is looking for a company of "John the Baptists."
He is not looking for ability, rather He is looking for availability.
Each one of us can be a part of this corporate body that is
being prepared to express the Word of the ord in our day.