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The Wilderness – Testing the Heart

This week marks the first days of Lent, a season of recollection and reflection rooted in the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan. (Mark 1:12-13)

To understand this scripture an Old Testament symbol is helpful. The word “tempted” is more accurately translated as “tested” as in assaying a lump of ore. Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart. (Proverbs 17:3)


God said, “Now I have come down to pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces.” (Exodus 3:7-8)




Along the Mediterranean coast Via Maris was the major expressway between Egypt and the Promised Land. However, the Lord instructed Moses to take a major detour.The Israelites reached the western Sinai desert, on the 15th day of the second month after leaving Egypt. (Exodus 16:1)



You must remember the entire trip that the Lord your God has led you through these 40 years in the wilderness. He was testing you. He wanted to know what is in your heart.  (Deuteronomy 8:2)

The first Adam disobeyed God’s command. (1 Corinthians 15:45) The Spirit drove Jesus, the Second Adam, into the wilderness to assay his heart. Jesus had to suffer before he could LEARN what it really means to obey God. (Hebrews 5:8).

Lent is a time to intentionally enter the wilderness, making one’s self available for a “heart exam.” “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

May I suggest that David’s prayer is indispensable for one moving through the wilderness to the Cross.



Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
(Psalm 139:23-24)