God’s servants often need a place of solace and rest. Rest for the eyes from viewing the desolation and corruption of the sacred treasures and rest for the mind from the anxieties of ordinary life was going to inevitably be a . Examples of this appear in the life of Yeshua with his need for undistracted prayer time, but it is Yohan the Baptist who seems, more than any, to have chosen to live in a desert, and it was not in pursuit of the nomad heritage in Israelite culture. David’s longings in one of his maskils – Psalm 55 – seems to have found a place in New Testament times with the Baptist’s flight from society.
(6) I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. (7) “Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge (Hebrew lun) in the wilderness. (8) “I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.”
If one is tempted to think that Yohan had a sheltered life in Elizabeth and Zechariah’s home then the facts about Aaronic families should help. There is no question that Zechariah was vigorously training his son to become a priest. It is what they do. At some point Yohan had to say “Enough of this priesthood prep!” He fled not only his parents’ home, he put distance betwen himself and society. There was no chance of him becoming a priest.
Yeshua and the desert
Although LUN (לון) is used for overnight stays God’s messenger made the desert his home.
The holy city was not in Yohan’s days a place of refuge for God’s servants and certainly not for Messiah’s messenger. Let’s make sure we know our desert place and its potential to provide for rest and refuge apart from family and culture.
The devil has succeeded in counterfeiting the seal of God, the love of God, the work, and the word of God. Every where we look we see the signs or substitute and idols. Even the cross, the means of atonement, has become a hub for twisted views and raw idolatry.
The cross of Christ is not an add-on like the clause “in Jesus’ name “. A lot of Christians are trying to receive the Bible’s riches without the cross. Nothing in the Bible smells good without the Nazarene. In our quest for personal integrity we line up things which are neither original, redemptive, nor unending.
Seal: the Holy Spirit or one command?
Assurance of salvation: obedience or Holy Spirit indwelling?
Love: obedience or caring for people?
Middle class, upper class ministry
Covetousness and carnal desires guide positive thinking, andnone of the greater (or great) things promised by people preaching victory and abundance even come close to the gift of the Holy Spirit. By carnal desires we do not mean bodily interests but those desires that belong to the human and temporary experience. Crossless preaching is worse than looking for an accusation against Christ.
One has to violate one’s conscience to put distance between one’s beliefs and one’s practice. Whether the interest is food, drink, festivals, family or ancestral practices, chaos and emptiness follow the abandonment of Messianic atonement for sin. There is no truth that compares to “came into the world to save sinners“; not circumcision, not tireless labour, and not promises to try to be faithful. Faith establishes faithfulness, and none of the situations in which we find ourselves makes us victims. In the midst of all our chaotic situations we are assured of God’s peace and love.
We have found that the task of doing theology is an essential post in the fence we continue to build for the mysteries of our faith. It is for everyone’s benefit that we know why we do the searching, the proper handling and the accurate exposition. There are many treasures that we discover from the Scriptures and they may become mere symbols, but coming to the sacred texts in the same manner as one comes to the Living Word can be expected to result in rest.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
There is room enough in the final exposition for diversity of emphasis, but there is no fit for more than one interpretation. The discovery is either of faith or it misses the mark. The interpretation is married to the Living God who was crucified or it is not kingdom-helpful.