Let’s remember that all the patriarchs’ had wives that were barren. God wanted to teach them that his fruitfulness does not come from their ability. True fruitfulness only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Hannah expressed God’s ways when she prophesied: “She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away” (1 Samuel 2:5, TNIV).
This is the lesson of the third day: God in his wisdom chooses to make the earth in two stages. In the first stage he speaks: parting the waters and causing the dry land to appear. However, the land is dry, barren and uninhabited. In the second stage he speaks again; this time he fills the earth he formed with fruitfulness.
Barrenness before fruitfulness is the pattern seen throughout God’s dealings with man. John the Baptist’s call to Israel for repentance was a call to go back to the wilderness. During that time, Israel was in the Promised Land but they were not living in the fullness of God’s blessings; they were governed and oppressed by both the Romans and religiosity.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”… People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matt. 3:1-3, 5-6).
This story is loaded with prophetic meaning. About twelve hundred years ago Israel entered the Promised Land by coming out of the wilderness and crossing the miraculously parted Jordan River. Now, John the Baptist is bringing them back to their roots; he is brining them back to the repentance that the wilderness was meant to work in their hearts. Again they had to go back through the waters––they needed to come again into the Promised Land with a right spirit. The wilderness has a way of bringing true repentance unlike any other place. Why? Because there is no pretension there; there is nothing present that is attractive to the flesh. John himself wore clothes made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. His diet was locusts and wild honey. People going to see him were surely not going to see a man with pomp and circumstance.
John the Baptist’s message in the wilderness was always pointing to the Coming One, the Messiah. It was the Messiah and not the prophet that was the true answer. But how could the people be prepared? It was only the wilderness that could prepare the way for Jesus, the true Promised Land and Vine (Psa. 80:8ff; cf. John 15:1-17). The wilderness leaves us longing and looking for him. The wilderness prepares us for his manifested presence. In that place of weakness and repentance we resolve that all fruitfulness and victory can only be in him.
Prayer: Father, give me courage as I go through the wilderness, but let me not stop until I break into your manifested presence and your full purposes.