Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
God called John when the world around him could not get much worse. Perverse rulers reigned over both secular and religious life and the morality of the people could not digress much more. This was established in the previous post in the series, His Voice –Evil Times. While the world around him seemingly spun out of control, God calls John to be His voice. When did this call come? His call came when John was in the wilderness.
The wilderness was a lonely place so desolate that shepherds could not graze their flocks. The Greek word, eremos, also signifies the wilderness to be a place where there would be few or no people. It would so remote that it would be devoid of human interaction, aid, or assistance. Strangely, the word is also used for women who had been depreciated by her husband. In a place where no one could help, where no human hand could help, a place of solitude and loneliness, and where one might feel neglected, God called John to prepare the way for the Savior of all humanity.
Moses received his call while in the wilderness. Like John, Moses also had a sense of divine destiny but probably felt like a failure after fleeing from Egypt. “For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not (Acts 7:25).” He is now 80 years old and in a wilderness place. It was a place at the end of himself. He would be at the end of any hope to ever be used and devoid of any strength in himself, but that is where God called. Was this where John was too? Did he feel that his usefulness to God was over? One thing is certain. To be His voice we must understand that we can do nothing with the arm of flesh. We must be at a point where our only hope is the Lord and His might. It is at this exact place God needs us to be to be mightily used of Him. It was the wilderness school that prepared Moses and maybe John too.
Was John led by Holy Spirit to this wilderness place? That is what happened with Jesus. “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 4:1).” It was this place of testing that prepared Jesus for ministry too. Testing is not a bad thing but a preparatory thing. It is the proving that makes us durable and strong in Christ to complete all God has set before. Like steel that is tried, the heat of the wilderness hardens us to not throw in the towel when the future battles get tough.
Was it John’s way of getting alone with God to better hear God? Jesus did this as well. “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed (Luke 5:16).” To hear God we often must find a place of solitude to enjoy His presence and to hear His direction. To be His voice we must hear His voice so can speak His mind.
Don’t worry about the wilderness place you may be in. It may be God’s way of preparing you. Look to Him and lean not on your own understanding. Listen for that call and help to prepare the hearts of those he sends you too. Remember, Jesus is Soon2Come.