It [the wilderness] was no place for a fellow who didn’t have a lot of sand in his craw and a boundless store of hope in the heart.”
–Ernest Haycox (A Rider of the High Mesa)
“Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.'”
–Exodus 3:18 (NKJV)
I’m in the process of slowly reading through Exodus and then in my devotions just before the campfire dies down at night I’m reading Exodus. I have also been perusing stories and writings of some of the renown leaders of the church and in the Bible. The more I study, the more I read, the more I seek the face of the Lord–the more I’m convinced that there is an acceptable way of worship.
Is the place important? Well, yes and no. I would say a person would not/could not worship at a rock concert or any concert for that matter. I doubt it could happen at a sporting event, a bar, or nightclub. So there is a place to meet with God, or better for God to meet with you. Is it a church building? It could be, and it should be, but that is not always the case. It could be in the great cathedral of His creation.
Let’s take a further look at where Moses wanted to take the people of Israel to worship–the wilderness. This was not just on the edge, a place where the wilderness was a backdrop. Oh, no, it was a three-day journey, deep into the wilderness. See, God does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24) though He could (i.e., the Tabernacle and the Temple).
The wilderness may suggest danger, it may also beckon you to come closer, to come nearer. Moses requested of Pharaoh that the Israelites be allowed to enter so they could offer sacrifices to God. There is more truth here than what is seemingly on the surface. Cannot one worship God anywhere? Isn’t it more comfortable in a nice building? The issue is that the wilderness demands attentiveness and sacrifice, diligence and solitariness, endurance and fulfillment. To enter the wasteland of the wilderness may be to die to self so that you may live unto God. Maybe that is the allusion that Paul leaves in Romans 12:1-2, to become, now, a living sacrifice.
I have pondered many times why the Israelites had to go to the wilderness to meet with God and offer sacrifices to Him there. Could they not have done this in the safety of Egypt? Maybe it was because they could not properly meet with God in that location. Possibly the atmosphere “of the world” would be a great hindrance to them; that part of worship required them to come apart and be separate. In Scripture, Egypt often represents “sin” or “the world”; it was a place of bondage and oppression. Is there a part of the world involved when you try to worship?
When the world and the things of the world get into the church it hinders true worship. Oh, a golden calf might not be set up but people cannot worship God in the manner and methods of Baal. Israel learned that the hard way. Check, do that inventory, and see it there are any practices of “Egypt” that you are embracing when trying to offer a proper sacrifice to God. Meditate deeply on Romans 12:2, “And do not be CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and PERFECT WILL of God.” (NKJV, emphasis added) That word “acceptable” alone indicates that there is an acceptable way to worship the Lord.
Today in the Texas Revolution: The Mexicans are repelled at Refugio as William Ward’s troops arrive to aid the Texas. The battle continues. More people flee in the Runaway Scrape.