Wilderness School

John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
-Luke 1:80 (NLT)

Many people have been and are in God's wilderness school right now.  I want to encourage us that God's school is the best school.  Many of the servants of God that are well known names, in the Bible, spent time in the wilderness.

The wilderness can strengthen us and make us better and godly.  Or we can get bitter and die there, without ever coming into what God has for us.  We can let our dry, barren, and seemingly empty time grow us in a good way.

John grew up and was strengthened, for what God destined for him, in the wilderness.  It is interesting that John's dad was a minister, and it would have been easy and natural for John to follow his dad into the ministry as well.  John might have had access to the best teachers in Israel, but instead, he learned on the outside, in austerity.

I believe that John's wilderness training gave him the strength of character that he was going to need.  I believe that he learned, "God first", in the wilderness.

John was at wilderness seminary until his commissioning.  His calling was more dramatic than probably anyone you will ever meet.  Remember the angel from God's throne that came to his dad, before John's birth.  After his birth, his dad had a special experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit and giving a special prophecy about John becoming a prophet.

We can only imagine what his parents said to him, as they raised him; about his call.  But calling and commissioning are two different things.  The English translations fall a little bit short here.  My NLT says, "until he began his public ministry".  That is true, but what is behind the English here is a the Greek word anadeixis that means "the appointment of a person for a specific role".

We know John was called, from before his birth; but his commissioning is different.  According to Larry Perkins, the Greek term here also means, "to lift up and show".  The same word is used in 2 Maccabees 6:8 in the Greek OT, for "restored"; in that God, "watched over and restored him (Jonah, who was in the whale) to his family.  God lifted Jonah up and displayed him, i.e. rescued him.

In Petersen's The Message paraphrase, he says it this way: "He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel."  When we look at Luke 3, we read that, "At this time a message from God came to John son of Zachariah, who was living in the wilderness." (Luke 3:2b, NLT).  We get it here that God triggered John's commissioning.  It is implemented or inaugurated, by God.

There was a time of preparation for John.  Even with having one of the most dramatic callings, his calling was not his commissioning.  The calling tells you what you are uniquely going to do for God, in this life, it is you destiny.  We are all called in to general ministry and being part of cooperating with the kingdom coming.  But, before you are inaugurated, installed into, or before you are commissioned to, or before you special calling or destiny is implemented; there is a time of preparation.

John was called before birth, but his public ministry started after age 30.  Moses was 80, when he started.  It took about 15 years for Paul, from his call on the road to Damascus, until he could use his apostolic gift with great impact.

So, if you are in the wilderness, be encouraged.  Let God teach you.  Don't waste the time and let the wilderness make you better, not bitter.

The photo is from BiblePlaces.com
The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, by Howard Marshall
God's Commissioning, by Larry Perkins