Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11
When I was a kid, we used to camp in Tuolomne Meadows, a part of Yosemite National Park that’s at about 9,000 feet. We thought of it as the wilderness. It was never very crowded because at that elevation, you have to be OK with waking up to frost on your picnic table every other morning, and you have to be much more conscientious about where you store your food at night. Every night, tucked in our old-fashioned flannel-lined sleeping bags, we could hear the bears through the walls of our big, green tent, going from one garbage can to the next, rattling the cans closer and then farther away as they made their circuit through the campground. We’d take a trip down to crowded Yosemite Valley once in a while to see the Fire Fall from El Capitan. In contrast to Tuolomne Meadows, the valley had the population density of Manhattan – our family joke was that four tents would use one tent peg. We were always glad to get back up to Tuolomne Meadows. Although it was uncrowded, it was still civilized. There was a public restroom down the trail – no showers, to be sure, but flush toilets and sinks. We had a concrete fire pit and we had an official permit to stay in our official campsite. There were hikes led by naturalists during the day, and campfires with camp songs at night. It was abundant and beautiful and we were happy to be there.
In contrast, in Scripture, the wilderness is someplace you do not want to be. In Scripture, the wilderness wouldn’t be covered with Ponderosa pines and lupine, not to mention the picnic tables and bathrooms down the trail. It would be dry, barren, no green, no contrast, no noticeable life. The desert. The place where there is not enough water, not enough food, not enough protection from the wind and sun and blowing sand. Not enough. You would not choose to spend 40 days and 40 nights in this wilderness. Read more →