I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)
Regardless of where this message finds you today, I assure you that these words should greatly encourage you. Take a moment to really marinate in today’s verse; when you do, you will notice that God is speaking to His wayward people Israel, who had turned to lesser gods time and time again. But instead of a harsh rebuke, God speaks tenderly to Israel with a holy heart full of love—wooing her, if you will, into the wilderness.
Why does God lead His people into the wilderness? Because He loves us too much to let us continue in our worldly ways. Intimacy and intercourse with our Lord are best achieved when we are not focused on the cares of this world. And that, beloved, is The Wonderland of the Wilderness. Even the wilderness is a paradise, because God makes it so by His presence.
The love of our God is so great that He refuses to let us stay forever entangled with the cares of this world. Instead He withdraws us to His wilderness, where He can gain our undivided and unwavering attention and speak tenderly to us.
After His baptism, Jesus demonstrated the wonder of the wilderness when He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested. During our Lord’s testing, Jesus was continually in communion with His Father in heaven. He was hungry and tired, yet His wilderness was a wonderland because His Father sustained Him every step of the way until Jesus vanquished the devil and angels came to minister to Him.
Make no mistake, paradise has been promised, and it is indeed coming to all those who have, by grace through faith, trusted in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. But this promised paradise will not be experienced until we cross the Jordan. Until then, whenever we treat this world like this is all there is, holding on to all this world offers with a white-knuckled grip, God will lead us into the wonderland of His wilderness and speak loving words to correct us, comfort us, and challenge us to return to our first love.
Remember, God so loved you that He gave His one and only Son in order to bring you into an intimate, personal relationship with Him. He did not send His Son to die for your sins so that you would give Him half of your heart. He has no desire to let you live with one foot in the world and one foot in His Word. God tolerates no rival. He wants all of you, and He will use whatever means He must to get all of your attention.
The next time you realize that your Lord has led you into a wilderness, know that it is for your good and His glory. Be still and listen for His voice, speaking tender words of hope and grace to you:
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!