Commentators estimate the Lord’s age at thirty years when his public ministry began with a trip into the wilderness to face the devil’s direct temptation.
He was not the first to be led into the wilderness to meet the devil, but as a victor, he is preeminent as an example to us. In fact, his experience there is so eerily similar to that of the Exodus pilgrims that it becomes plain he is identifying with their plight while demonstrating a surer path to a better Canaan. Continue reading » Wilderness of Temptation
It is located west of the Dead Sea in Judah. It is mountainous. It is almost completely devoid of any vegetation. It boasts an annual rainfall of less than 2 inches. Still, it is the home of nomadic Bedouin families whose lifestyles remain almost unchanged over several thousand years. It is perhaps the most striking terrestrial feature of this small, but geographically varied land. It is the Wilderness of Judea. Seeing the land brings to sharp focus various events which transpired in Bible history. From the wanderings of the Israelites in similar rugged terrain, to the temptation of Jesus before he began his public ministry, the Wilderness holds a position of drama in Bible history.
During a trip to Israel in March of 1999, I had opportunity to travel by bus from Jerusalem, along the Dead Sea, all the way south to Massada. That day I had the opportunity to put my hand in the mineral saturated water of the Dead Sea. I ascended via cable car the face of the mountain upon which the ruins of Herod’s great fortress (Massada) sits. I had opportunity to see the caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were stored by the sect of the Essenes, and eventually discovered (according to the most reliable sources) by a Bedouin shepherd boy in the 1940’s. I saw the ruins of Jericho, and traversed the “Jericho Road” on the way back to Jerusalem. All of these places impressed me deeply. However, I think the most impressive aspect of that day was the miles and miles of unending desolation that we traversed by bus. I looked at that landscape, and was able to understand better what our Lord must have gone through as He “was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). Continue reading » The Wilderness of Judea