In Luke 4, we see the temptation of Jesus, and I find it so interesting that the entire episode is book ended by the fact that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit.
Luk 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
Luk 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
I think this is significant. Obviously, it shows us two parts of the Trinity simultaneously active, but it emphasizes that Jesus was not operating alone. It makes it even more significant than when he is later on the cross and speaks about being forsaken by God. Even in the difficult times, Jesus was following the will of God.
The temptation of Christ could have taken place anywhere. Satan could have met Him in His normal hometown, and Jesus could have undergone the temptation in comfort. However, it was clearly the will of God that He be led into a much harsher environment. Why?
I’m not entirely sure obviously, but it seems significant that this is reflective of the circumstances that some people live in. There are plenty of people who live in difficult environments with very limited resources. For those of us in America, we mostly don’t have a lot of concept of material suffering. However, because of this experience, Jesus did, and He was able to withstand temptation even in this circumstance. If Jesus had not done this, I wonder if some people might say that even Jesus would have sinned if He had to live through what I am living through. He lived in the desert with no food while being directly tempted by arguably the cleverest of all the angels. I think He understood something about adversity and living in a difficult situation.
Ultimately, God knows why God led Jesus by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, but it is clear that this was a very intentional act.
Deuteronomy chapter two is interesting because the wandering could have stopped at any time. God could have had the Israelites displace the children of Esau. After all, God certainly has enough power to do whatever He wants.
However, God had already given parcel of land to those people, and He knew that He had a specific place for the Israelites.
Deu 2:4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:
Deu 2:5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
Then people must have wondered where God was taking them. If God was so powerful, why couldn’t He just help them stop now and stop this bothersome wandering? 40 years is a long time to spend in the desert.
I think that we have all been in this situation at one time or another. Times might get tough, and we wonder where we are supposed to be. Are we actually going in the right direction?
There are a few answers that God has for this question, and one is right here in Deuteronomy 2.
Deu 2:7 For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
Mat 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Mat 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Whenever we wonder where we might be or where we are supposed to be, God has the answer. He will provide for us and help us anything that comes our way.
Leviticus chapter 16 gives us a picture of the scapegoat.
Lev 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
Lev 16:22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
Aaron was supposed to take two goats and cast lots for both of them. One was supposed to be sacrificed for a typical sin offering as an atonement for the sins of the people of Israel.
The leftover goat was called the scapegoat, and he basically had to take on all of the sins of the people of Israel. Then, he was supposed to be released into the wilderness like the verses above dictate.
In a way, Jesus is the scapegoat that will serve all the sins of humanity for all time. Even though He never had any sin of His own, He took on everything that has ever been committed.
In fact, this almost makes me think about the significance of this scapegoat being sent away alive. Jesus is also alive, but there are many people who send Him out to the wilderness so to speak. They don’t want anything to do with Jesus, and they try to banish Him somewhere where they will never have to find Him again. However, the reality is that He is alive and as present ever. We can try to send Him away, but we do not have that power over Him.
For the Israelites, that was the point. Once their sins were on that goat, they did not want or need anything else to do with it.
However, because I am extending that analogy to Jesus, we need to have something to do with Him. It is really the only choice any of us will make that has truly eternal significance.