It has been said that a tourist passes through the land, while a pilgrim lets the land pass through himself. There’s a big difference between merely exploring these lands and allowing this physical space to transform one’s heart and mind.
We spent today in the archaeological site of Biblical Beersheva and the Wilderness of Zin. One of our guides mentioned that the wilderness often became God’s classroom with three primary lessons.
In the desert, one learned humility. There are no lone rangers there; it requires living in community and humility towards one another. Scripture states that Moses was the most humble man who lived. It’s notable that he spent 40 years in the desert before the Exodus. And a considerable amount of time there afterwards, as well.
The desert also becomes a place of hospitality. Even modern Bedouins are known for the hospitality they display to guests. For instance, a Bedouin may serve a guest up to three days without expectation of even learning their guest’s name. In Genesis 18, Abraham extended hospitality to three guests in the desert, and he received the presence and blessing of God as a result.
Finally, the desert is a place to learn patience. Moses waited forty years. Abraham waited decades. Jesus endured temptation. We can afford to trust God’s timing, and we often learn that lesson with some time in the desert.