My Wilderness Has A Purpose
Ancient Israel sat precariously at the edge of a great desert, and this neighboring, hostile world so impressed itself on the minds of the inhabitants that the prophets and other biblical writers repeatedly returned to the ideal of wilderness in order to present the great themes of the Bible.
The basic and most obvious fact about the desert is that it is hostile to human and most other forms of life
For this reason the desert could toughen a person while at the same time making him to be an outcast.
For the average person wilderness was something to avoid.
For this reason the wilderness is the place of punishment, and the archetype for this ideal is the forty years of wandering Israel suffered as punishment for lack of obedience
Frequently the prophets used the image of reversion to wilderness to describe God’s rejection of a city
None of this implies that the Old Testament uniformly treats the wilderness as evil. One could more accurately say that it portrays the desert as harsh and dangerous.
The wilderness forces the individual to rely upon God, and the Bible often attributes survival in the wilderness to his grace.
As a place of refuge it is also a place where one learns complete reliance on God. The wilderness is therefore also the place of testing, repentance, and spiritual growth. Deuteronomy 8:2 declares that God left Israel in the wilderness for forty years “in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.”
The wilderness is therefore a threat to life and is the opposite of the subdued land, the city. It can represent rejection by God, and the eternal peace of God will mean an end to wilderness. But it is also the place of abandoning the world, wealth, and pretense and of depending entirely upon God for life. It is thus the place of grace and the training ground of spirituality.