The most common Hebrew word translated wilderness is miḏbār (H4057), which appears about 250 times. The literal idea, of course, is that of a desert, or other such uninhabited wasteland (Deu_32:10; Job_38:26), such as the great Sinai wilderness (Deu_2:7; cf. Exo_19:1-2; Lev_7:38), or sometimes even vast pastureland (Joe_2:22; Psa_65:12). Besides Sinai, many other tracts of wilderness are referred to including Beersheba (Gen_21:14), Sin (Exo_16:1; Exo_17:1), Judah (Jdg_1:16; Psa_63:1 title), Damascus (1Ki_19:15), Shur (Exo_15:22; Exo_16:1), and Egypt (Eze_20:35).
The figurative ideas behind miḏbār, however, provide deep application. One of the concepts represented by wilderness is that of trial and testing. A dominant theme throughout the Pentateuch, for example, is Israel’s presence in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. Deu_8:2, in fact, explicitly states that the desert was a place to prove whether Israel would obey God’s commandments. Sadly, she repeatedly failed, from grumbling about food (Exo_16:2-3) and water (Exo_17:1-3), to her idolatry at Mount Sinai (Exodus 32), to her ultimate failure in “the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh” (Num_13:26; see Numbers 13-14)), where the people were afraid to enter the Promised Land. This resulted in their having to wander in the wilderness for forty years, demonstrating that judgment is also represented by wilderness.
Two other ideas pictured in a wilderness, however, are positive, namely, solitude and preparation. David felt he could be at rest in the wilderness away from people (Psa_55:6-7) and had the opportunity to seek God early in the morning while in the wilderness (Psa_63:1). God took Moses into the wilderness to prepare him for what he would face (Exo_2:15 ff, Midian was located either in Arabia, east of the Gulf of Aqaba, or in the Sinai Peninsula). Likewise, John the Baptist was prepared in the wilderness (Mat_3:1-4), and our Lord Himself spent forty days and nights in the wilderness, where he experienced all the above (Mat_4:1-2). Further, on at least one other occasion He “withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (Luk_5:16).
Dear Christian Friend, even if you live in a city of a million people, you live in a wilderness—it is called the world. Your faith will be tried and tested every day, but God is using the trials and testing to prepare you and to prove He is there with you.
Scriptures for Study: What does Php_2:14 command? Read 2Co_11:23-30. Besides “perils in the wilderness,” what else did Paul suffer, and what was his attitude?
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”
Often, an overcome saint is the result of the war with the beast ( evil esp. in government), Rev. 13:7. An interesting consideration is: has this happened before? Is there a precedent that could possibly prepare one for that possibility? Consider the following:
The terms “discourage” or “discouraged” appears only a few times in the Bible. Most of the appearances are in the Old Testament with one in the New Testament. They are all directed to or about God’s people. It is also interesting to note that usage is few, but employs several words to cover the idea’s spectrum. The Hebrew terms so translated are.
“Qatsar,” in Numbers 21:4. The word means primarily “to be short; hence, impatient, vexed and or grievous.” Here it depicts the reaction to hardships in the way of the Hebrew journey from Egypt. They were not discouraged because of the way, but in the way due to so many obstacles as well as the absence of the few conveniences of life afforded them in Egypt.
“Nuw,” in Numbers 32:7, 9; this term is primarily meaning “to hinder, forbid, disallow, refrain, or frustrate.” It depicts the state of the Hebrews after the evil report of the spies, turning them away from entering the Promised Land.
“Macac” is translated “discouraged” in Deut. 1:28 and means “Dissolve, melt, drop off.” It describes the heart of the Hebrews upon the report of the giants being in the Land of Promise.
“Chathath,” in Deuteronomy 1:21. This means “shattered, dismayed, broken, afraid.” It was used here in the negative as an admonition of encouragement for the Hebrews to take the Land of Promise.
Collecting the meaning of all these words, one finds that the Bible warns God’s people to NOT be impatient, vexed or grieved; to NOT accept hindrance, forbiddance, frustration or restraint from doing God’s Will; to NOT be shattered, dismayed, broken or afraid in heart and spirit; to NOT dissolve, melt or drop off in service and faith in Him.
Does the going get a little rough sometimes? You bet it does! Does Satan use the above named tactics to discourage, dissuade and negate one’s discipleship? You bet he does! But to Israel, the Promised Land was still there and God’s victory was theirs for the claiming. To those who are standing for the Lord and His Word today, the reward of faithful service is still there and the Captain of the Host of the Lord is still present to give the victory. So, let us all be aware of Satan’s tools of discouragement, and in the words of the beloved apostle Paul, “Let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Gal. 6:9. The battle with the beast and its outcome is every Christian’s war, and there are tremendous blessings for the Christian victor. In Christ you will be such a victor!