Kevin East Christian Blog and Commentary

Why Be Afraid of the Desert? A Lesson from Israel

  • Kevin East
    Kevin East is the President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Texas. He formerly served Pine Cove Camps as their Executive Director of Ministries. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect… More
  • 2012 Apr 26

I've never experienced something as dry and lifeless as the desert.  Maybe it's because we aren't used to being in such a place that when scripture continually refers to the desert, we only know to picture sand dunes.  Here, it was much different.

During my last trip to Israel, we walked through the Makhtesh in southern Israel.  It is a vast expanse of limestone and other sedimentary rocks.   Needless to say, it was hot, dry and far removed from the green, fertile pastures near Tel Aviv.

It was in this desert that I learned today there are actually 3 hebrew words for desert used in the Old Testament.  They are:

1. Midbar.  Someone can survive in this desert.  Here you will see shepherds and their sheep.  Mentioned in Isaiah 43:19 and 35:1.

2. T'Sah. This word for desert is used 16 times in the Old Testament.  It is more harsh than a Midbar.  Found in Psalm 105:41 and Jeremiah 2:5-7.

3. Yeshimon. This word occurs 13 times in the Bible, where nothing can survive.  Psalm 68:4-10, Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm 78:40.

I must admit, I hate the idea of being in the desert.  I'm not talking about the physical desert I was in today, but those times in life when I know God is doing a tough work in me that requires that I walk through some tough terrain.

I've never been a fan of movies that show someone going through such a phase.  Instead, I favor the shows of the underdog who works hard, and pulls it out in the end.

In scripture, we see that God uses those desert times in our life for a reason.  In fact, in Hosea 2:14-16, we see that God leads people there, and does a tender work in them in the process.

Here is the lesson for today, using the words mentioned above instead of the singular word, "desert."

What the world views as a Yeshimon, for the believer it can be only a Midbar.

Meaning, that although many scenarios and life situations are tough terrain, they aren't hopeless.  God can take those desert moments, and still provide for us in the midst of them.

Walking this desert has been a real experience of how rich this time with God can be.  Maybe instead of running from these, I should embrace them, trusting the God who sometimes leads His people there.


If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.