first of Jehovah’s messages through Jeremiah, the tender-hearted
prophet, and recorded in Jeremiah 2, there are a number of touching
questions: â€œWhat is wrong in Me?â€ (v. 5); â€œWhy not inquire of Me?â€ (v.
6); â€œThe priests ignore Me, why?â€ (v. 8); â€œIs there any nation so
whimsical as you?â€ (v. 11); â€œWhy do you act as a spoiled servant?â€ (v.
14); â€œWhy have you forsaken Me?â€ (v. 17); â€œWhy do you hanker after
Egypt?â€ (v. 18), etc. The whole of the message is a series of
challenging and searching queries. But surely none are so pointed and
full of meaning as â€œHave I become a wilderness unto Israel?â€ (v. 31).
The Lord a wilderness to His redeemed ones?
Repeatedly we find in the sacred records that graphic phrase, â€œall that great and terrible wildernessâ€ (e.g., Deut. 1:19), by which an attempt was made to describe the dreary places Israel had to traverse in their desert journeys. A wilderness is an undesirable place where no one cares to be. Is it not tragic to find suggested here the possibility of the Desire of Nations, the Altogether Lovely One, the Chiefest among Ten Thousand, becoming unattractive and undesired? Yet such is the inference.
One of the surest and safest proofs of a growth in grace is an ever-increasing appreciation of the finished work and the glories and beauties of the Lord. Trusting in the Lord should speedily lead to â€œDelight thyself also in the Lordâ€ (Ps. 37:3). What a suggestive order is to be noticed there. â€œTrustâ€ then â€œdo goodâ€; not â€œdo goodâ€ and then â€œtrust.â€ No, faith first; then works. But be sure to â€œdo goodâ€ after trusting. â€œTrust in the Lord, and feed on His faithfulnessâ€ (rv). That is important. As I ponder and nourish my soul on the faithfulness of God, I soon, very soon, will begin to â€œdelight [my]self also in the Lord.â€ That means goodbye to the wilderness view of Christ. The wilderness becomes a garden of delights.
The saddest fact of all is that He had become as a wilderness to many of His redeemed ones. Israel stood in that relationship. Not only had they in Egypt passed under the blood for safety, but through the Red Sea for deliverance. He had given them the land flowing with milk and honey for an inheritance. What more could He have done? Though punctilious in the performance of their religious duties, they had become empty formalists, missing and losing the Lord even in His own sanctuary.
Neglect is the parent of desert lives. Only too well do we know that the less we pray, the less inclined we become to pray; the less we read the Bible, the less we desire it; and the more we neglect the Holy Book and prayer, the less we desire the Lord, and the further we drift away. Neglecting the daily and devotional study of the Scriptures, and spending less and less time in private prayer, the Lord becomes as a wilderness to usâ€”nothing but a dry, unattractive, and thirsty land where no water is.
But wilderness places can blossom again. The wilderness and the solitary place can become places of gladness, and the desert can rejoice and blossom as the rose. One stanza old Dr. Tauler wrote, and it would be well for us to offer it as a prayer to our Lord and Saviour, as follows:
As the rose amid the briars
Fresh and fair is found,
Heedless of the tangled thicket,
And the thorns around;
As the sunflower ever turning
To the mighty sun,
With the faithfulness of fealty
Following only Oneâ€”
SO MAKE ME, LORD, TO THEE!
In this way we will practically enjoy these two blessed realities: â€œThat in all things He might have the pre-eminence.â€ â€œThat Christ may be all in all.â€
Robert Lee (From “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” edited by J. B. Nicholson.) Copyright protected by Uplook Magazine. Used by Permission.