Linking up with Mrs. Disciple again today!! #FridayFive this week is Five Favorite Bible Stories. I’ve been writing over at Lessons From The Wilderness Study about Bible stories this year. The overarching theme is that God calls us into the wilderness for growth.
As I’ve studied the wilderness in scripture I’ve been shocked to see how many of the people we read about spent time in a physical wilderness or a symbolic one.
My favorite stories right now are
Joshua: So Joshua had a front row seat as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. When Moses died he became the leader and God was ready to bring His people into the land He had promised them. They would need to battle and Joshua was determined to lead them well. Joshua 1:7-9 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua had seen first hand what would happen if the Israelites allowed fear to control them. He and Caleb had been the only two men 40 years prior who had encouraged the Israelites to fight for the Promised Land from Yahweh. Now, a new generation, one that had been children or not yet born would face the same trial their parents had.
Esther: Esther may not have seemed like she was in a wilderness, but when you are in a castle by command, married to a man who planning to murder your friends and family a castle can be a wilderness. Esther was an orphaned child who was raised by her uncle. She was born at a specific point in history allowing her life circumstances to collide and position her “for such a time as this” Esther 4:14 Esther saved the life of herself and her people because she was willing to rise above her circumstances. She fasted, prayed and asked others to do the same prior to her actions.
Hagar: I love the story of Hagar beginning in Genesis 16. Sarai, Hagar’s master, has gotten impatient with her barrenness and tells Abram to sleep with Hagar. Abram agrees and soon a child is to be born. Sarai realizes she isn’t any happier knowing Hagar is pregnant and jealousy gets the best of her. When we choose to stray from God’s plan we will not be satisfied. Hagar is banished to the wilderness when she is pregnant and this Egyptian slave speaks to an angel and gives God a new name.
I love this passage. Hagar is found in the wilderness and given a promise from God. She calls him “A God who sees”. Hagar was Egyptian and had likely grown up learning about many gods. She distinguishes Yahweh as the God who sees her when she is in despair. Take a minute to read Genesis 16.
Hagar didn’t have a choice in the decision to bare a child for Abram and Sarai. Further, she was tossed out by the woman who put her in the position she was in! God met Hagar in the wilderness both physical and life situational and promised her a blessing beyond her comprehension. Her son would also have descendants outnumbering the stars.
Peter: Peter was a dynamic disciple. I have to admit I understand Peter. At the last supper, Jesus tells Peter that he is going to deny Him three times before the rooster crows. He also says His time on earth is coming to a close. After Peter realizes he’s fulfilled Jesus prophecy and Jesus is dead and resurrected he goes off to fish. It’s all he knows to do. It is a symbolic wilderness. In John 21 Jesus and Peter have a beautiful exchange. So here’s the thing that makes me a puddle just thinking about this exchange. Peter denied Jesus three times, and three times he gets to respond back to Him and say Yes Lord, I love. you. THREE times Y’all, canceling out each denial.
Phillip and the Ethiopian: Acts 8:25 So Phillip is walking back from witnessing in Samaria and an Ethiopian is trying to understand the Bible. Phillip offers to explains who Jesus is and baptizes the newly converted man. I love the end of this section. 38 “And he ordered the [n]chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, [o]but went on his way rejoicing. 4But Philip [p]found himself at [q]Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.” Phillip was moved by the Holy Spirit to a new location!! Samaria and Caesarea were both places that needed to hear about Jesus’ resurrection. They were wilderness places. Phillip preached where ever he landed, literally.