“Then the angel carried me (John) away in the Spirit into a wilderness,” Rev 17:3.
Why the wilderness? God sometimes chooses the wilderness for us when He wants us to gain a fresh perspective of where we are in our spiritual walks. It was no different for John, as God took him into the wilderness to gain a bird’s eye view of the challenges facing believers towards the end of the first century.
- Clarify your Vision: there are very few distractions in the desert.
“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits,” Rev 17:9. Since the days of primaeval history, the tendency of humankind has been to use our God-given skills to build up our names and not His. Babel and therefore Babylon became synonymous with self-glorification and not God glorification. Rome, the city built on seven hills, for the first-century believer was the new Babylon. Roman offered many compromising partnerships for believers which had direct financial benefits but always came at a cost to your soul’s integrity. The clear desert air helps clarify for us what these compromising partnerships are.
- Lighten your Load: heavy loads are laid down in the desert.
“‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues,” Rev 18:4. We know from the opening chapters of Revelation that some of the churches in the region of Asia Minor were struggling with complacency – they had traded being rich in Christ for earthly riches. The language of Revelation eighteen takes on strong economic, financial and commercial tones, “… the merchants/entrepreneurs/traders of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries,” Rev 18:3. The exhausting burdens of materialism and self-sufficiency can be laid down in the desert.
- Live for God: new creative energy is found in the stillness of the desert.
Not everything was bad about Rome, which can be heard in the sad lament towards the end of Revelation eighteen, “The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No worker of any trade will ever be found in you again,” Rev 18:22. The Romans had lost their way and the people of God were in danger of losing theirs with them. The call was for God’s people to use their gifts talents and abilities to further His kingdom on earth through their sole allegiance to the Gospel. What talents do you have that can be better developed and utilized by God for His Kingdom?
Most often we don’t choose the wilderness it chooses us. But as we can see from these two chapters in Revelation the wilderness is an important place to visit as it gives us the best perspective on where we are in our spiritual walk with God. These two chapters are really about becoming better stewards of what we have been given by God. It turns out that our attitude towards money tells us a lot about our relationship with God; Jesus put it this way, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Mat 6:21.
Prayer: Father thank you for the wilderness experiences in our lives that help us clarify where we are in our walk with you. Please assist us today to have a clearer picture of what it is you want us to let go of, as well as the new things you want us to take on.