“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. and he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God'” Luke 3:1-6
The Desert, the wastelands, the wilderness, not the most exciting of places. I know I have lived there a time or two in my life. I have called them wastelands before, but I am learning “nothing is wasted in God’s Kingdom!” God can find us anywhere. God can use us in the desert places. God leads us through our wildernesses. “The word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” The wilderness, I have discovered is a time of learning about yourself and about God. It is usually the place God prepares you for your calling from God.
God spoke to Moses at a burning bush while Moses was a desert dweller.
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God . And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” Exodus 3:1-2
Moses was on the backside of the desert even! God still found him even there the furtherest point of this desert place. Definition of desert – a desolate or forbidding area devoid of life and water supply. Moses was at the deepest point of this desolate land and still God called him from there.
God revealed Himself to the prophet Isaiah during a desert time in his life.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, the train of His robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1
Uzziah’s reign was a good reign in the eyes of the Lord. It is said of Uzziah, “And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. ” 2 Chronicles 26:3
At this time Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, Isaiah would have been mourning the death of a great king as all Israel would have been. Isaiah’s head would have been downcast because Israel just lost a king who worshipped the Lord and had led Israel to worship the Lord. I think back to the year JFK was assassinated and the great mourning that went throughout this country, that is the spirit of Israel at the death of King Uzziah and this is the point in Isaiah’s life the God reveals himself to Isaiah and it is the point God ushers Isaiah into his higher calling.
Desert places, dry places, wilderness places, places of mourning where you feel life is gone, those are our preparation places. They alway have been and they always will be as long as you are a child of God.
“And the word of the Lord came to John the son of Zachariah in the wilderness.” John always knew the miraculous events surrounding his birth. You can be sure Elizabeth and Zachariah would have told him this story over and over again throughout his life. Every year on his birthday Zachariah surely would have told him, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins.” John knew who he was. John knew what he was appointed to do. He just didn’t know when.
It is now the year of A.D. 27. John was living in the desert. For some reason this was the place he called home. It was his comfortable place. It was his familiar place. He had left the home of his father and mother because for an unknown reason he felt called to this desert place. Once he had arrived in this arid region of Judea, he knew this was the place he was to be for this season in his life. The call of El Elyon, the Most High God had led him to this barren place, so here he would stay and await his next step. “A voice of one calling in the desert,…”
Yes John you were led to the desert by the One who controls the universe. It is in your desert that the word of God came to you. Your next God given assignment came to you in the barren wastelands.
Why is this? Why do we have to go through times of desert and barrenness? Is it because sometimes that is the only place God can get your attention? Maybe that is the only place God can shut out all the noise of the world so that you can hear His instruction? I don’t know. All I know is, “the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.” All I know is, “the word of God was opened up to me like a bottle of water as I wandered alone and parched through my desert place.”