Coming Out Of The Wilderness
Walter Beuttler

What would you like to do tonight? Get out of the wilderness? First of all we'll stay in a bit and we'll come out. Our topic, menu, as you know has been the ways of the Lord. I do not know how many folk are here who haven't been with us yet this weekend, but I'll briefly review a few things so that any that may not have been with us will have a fair idea.

We were basing our study in the word on Moses' remarkable prayer, "Show me now thy way that I may know thee." Two years ago when I was with you we were talking about, "That I might know thee." This time we're taking the other part, "Show me now thy way." So very many Christians do not know, or know very little about the ways of the Lord in our daily experience. The reason is that there is simply not enough teaching in the area. So we were talking about the way of the Lord.

The first night we talked about, " The Way of the Lord in Affliction." Now you can take that physical if you wish. You can take it in the realm of the soul if you prefer or the need necessitates it. Whichever way, or whatever manner we are being afflicted. There is a way of the Lord in affliction. An outstanding example, of course, is Job. But we're not talking about him. Job was righteous, a very godly man who was very careful in his religious observances. God Himself bore testimony of him to Satan that there was none like Job who was righteous and just and godly in all the world. And yet God allowed this man, at the instigation of Satan, to be thrown into severe affliction because of Satan's challenge.

Most of you know the story. God had the angels assembled before Him (Job 1-2). We are told that Satan also came among them. Now I do not know whether Satan was there, whether he snuck in, or whether he had a standing order from God to appear with the angels to give account of his activities as the angels did. Which way it was is a matter of theological dispute. We are not going to dispute. Either one could be true. For either view, you could have good arguments, but irrespective, the fact remains that God said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"

Apparently God observed Satan going about upon the earth, and I think God observed that Satan took special note of Job's piety. Any man or any woman with outstanding piety or godliness, what have you, becomes a conspicuous object for the attention of Satan who does not like such people around. Apparently God took notice that Satan took notice of Job, so God said, "Now Satan, where have you been?"

Satan answered, "Oh from walking up and down in the earth. Yes, I was over in Vietnam and gave a push to the drug traffic. I went over to Tokyo and started some riots in the Tokyo University. (They have them there too once in awhile.) Then I went up to the Aleutians. There it was quite cold. I didn't like it so I crossed over and came down through Canada. I stopped off in California and stirred up some trouble in the universities there. (Like we had just a few years ago.) Then I came east and decided to go down to Virginia Beach and over to Oakley and just see what's going on and how I could mess things up for the pastor there."

That's not far fetched, folkses. That is simply applying part of the lesson of Job to what has been repeated more often than we know. There are attacks against God's people that are Satan originated. He is known, or is described in the Bible for instance in Zechariah, as the adversary. In Revelation he is described as the accuser of the brethren (the sisters too) of God's people.

In the case of Job Satan said, "There is a reason why Job serves You. He knows on which side his bread is buttered. You have blessed him. He's the richest man in the east. His fame is known all over. He has cattle, mules and camels more than any other man in the east. Why wouldn't he serve You. No wonder God. You just touch what he's got, and I'll tell you something. I'll predict he'll curse You to Your face. Now what do You say, God?"

God says, " He won't curse Me."

Satan says, "Yes he will."

"All right. Let's find out. He's in your hands."

Whew! Lightning struck, a tornado came, the roving bands of the Sabeans attacked. While one was yet speaking another one came and told Job of more trouble. When it rains it pours. Have you ever gone through situations where you have one trouble today and you hardly got over that, and if you did, something else crops up? You wonder what on earth is happening, one misfortune after another. Will this thing ever stop? What is it? I do not know what it is, but I do know what it could be. It could be a repetition of the situation of Job where God, under Satan's accusation, feels obliged to vindicate His name and His servants to put the devil to shame. If you say, "Why does God have to do that?" That is something I cannot answer. I can only state what I stated on the basis of the story of Job, which in that respect is very clear.

We, as God's people, when we go through situations for which we can give no adequate accounting, attribute no valid cause or give our inquiring friends no satisfactory explanation. We need to know what God is doing, an insight into His ways so we're not so easily overthrown by what others say or think about us.

I had mentioned in this place called wilderness, which here I would simply describe in a somewhat unsatisfactory way, because I have nothing better, is a situation in which we find ourselves where we cannot understand why it has happened, can give no explanation, or possibly confused and don't know what to do. God permits some situations for which we'll never get an answer and in which all that we can do is cling to what I said this morning, "Let him trust in the name of the Lord."

In one place where I ministered, I saw a lady sitting to my left in a wheelchair. I didn't look closely because you don't want to appear curious, but I thought and took notice at just a quick glance that she appeared to be crippled. I also noticed that she was very well dressed, not gaudy. Gaudy dress is not well dressed no more than sloppy dress. I don't think we can please the heavenly Father either with gaudy, unbecoming or sloppy attire.

You know what you have in Matthew 6 where the Lord speaks to His disciples and calls their attention to how beautifully God clothes the grass of the field, and calls attention to the lilies of the field. Their lilies are not the lilies we have on Easter. That's another lily. The lily of the Bible is a very pretty, but very common flower in the ordinary meadow.

And the Lord said, "Look how beautiful God has clothed the lily. Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. How much more then will your heavenly Father clothe you." Sloppy, dirty dress is a reproach to the heavenly Father. The cult of sloppy dress is not the cult which the heavenly Father appreciates. If God so clothed the grass, consider the lilies of the field, how much more will he clothe you. Our manner of dress can either be a credit or discredit, an honor or a dishonor to the heavenly Father who so cares for His children that He loves to dress them well like the flower of the field. God has to be ashamed of some of His children the way some parents are ashamed of their children, but there is nothing they can do about it because if they put a little pressure on, they'll run away. So the earthly parents like the heavenly Father has to put up with the sloppy dress of His children, when it is in His power to clothe them decently and respectfully as an honor to Him instead of a disgrace.

Now this lady of whom I spoke. I just happened to see her with a quick glance several times you know as you speak. I noticed she was well dressed. She was pretty, although I didn't take it in, just noticed she appeared to be a good-looking woman. And I noticed in a quick glance that her hands appeared to be bent under, and apparently her legs.

Later on I made inquiry. I said to the pastor there, "Could you tell me who was that good-looking, well-dressed lady in a wheelchair? "

He said, "Brother Beuttler, she was the beauty queen of our state, and if I ere not, when she was 18 years old, she was stricken with polio."

I don't know how old she was, but I'd say she would be middle-aged. I had so wished to talk to her, very much, but I'm rather timid and retiring and didn't have the gumption. I didn't want to appear curious. Although she said a few words to me, I didn't linger.

This is what I'm getting at. Can you imagine a girl being the beauty queen of a state, with a future of one kind or another, being struck by polio (apparently before we had a vaccine), confined to a wheelchair, for life? Can you image how she could ask, "Why ?" I don't know if she does. "What is this? Why did God permit this? Where am I going from here?" I don't know if she's married or not. I know nothing, but can you put yourself in her wilderness wondering how it can be. Why did it have to be me of all people, a beauty queen of the state, crippled by this virus, or whatever it comes from? OH, I wish I could hear from her words her thinking. What can a person like that do but keep a faith in the integrity of Almighty God? Now that's easy enough to say. But what else can you say?

That lady must be in a wilderness. Perhaps she has light, perhaps she is well oriented. I do not know. But can you imagine how she felt when this thing first took her, what a shock that must have been. As I have mentioned there are perils when we go through these experiences. We can call it quits, cast away our confidence. We can say, "What's the use of believing in God. Look what God did to me." Which of course is the wrong way to say it, but how easy it is.

I was teaching in a camp meeting. I stayed at a farmhouse. They had a boy that wasn't right. He was born mentally deranged. The mother became saved. The father was bitter. He told his wife, "No, I don't want a preacher in my house." And he was very hostile, but his wife overruled, and I was in their house.

But he let me know how he felt about our God, "Why did God do this to me? Explain that to me. If there is a God, the kind that you talk about, why did He give us a boy like this? Now answer me Reverend." How are you going to answer him? "That's what God did to me and now I should believe in Him and serve Him? Auk! Look at my boy!" You can't understand it, even though of course, that attitude is wrong.

When I was a student in Bible school in 1927 (that's a long time ago isn't it?), They had a waitress there in school, one of the students. She knew my weakness was apple pie. I mean good apple pie. Some of it I get, I'd just as soon not eat. She was a nice chipper girl. The kind of waitress one feels like eating with her around. You know some are..., but this girl was always so accommodating. She'd say once in awhile, "Brother Beuttler, there's a piece of apple pie under the table where you sit that's left over. I put it there for you." Wouldn't you like a girl like that?

She was engaged to a student. They were married on graduation day. He died 4 weeks later. They were as swell a couple. They were made for each other. Her man died after 4 weeks. What an awesome blow!

The young people tend to think, "Well, that's not for me. I have my life yet to live." Maybe so, and perhaps usually so, but it's surprising how suddenly lightning strikes and the thunder rolls and our hopes come down with a crash-how quickly. Then is where we should have some grasp of the ways of God.

I mentioned to you some of the perils: Unbelief. We quit our faith. What's the use serving God? Look how He treated me. We can't do that. We can, but we shouldn't. I mentioned rebellion when we rise up against the sovereignty of God. I told how I've done it and rebelled against Him.

We can say, "If God's a God of love then why does He permit this? We prayed for a little girl for years. When the thing came, after a few months she got sick and died. Now then, why did God?" Of course we learn, we ought to learn not to ask such questions. But there is the potential of rebelling against God.

I also mentioned the risk of murmuring, murmuring the way the Lord leads us or where He takes us, murmuring about the way in which we are apparently obliged to go. The last point, two of them, that I had touched upon is in Deuteronomy 8. You have here a very remarkable verses.

"Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end." Deuteronomy 8:15-16

Even when we go through the wilderness, God is leading consciously or unconsciously. When I lived alone in New York City in 1925, I was not saved, far from it. Although I didn't get into any kind of trouble while I was there, still I was dreadfully alone. As I look back, I can so clearly see the leading hand of God in my circumstances before I even knew Him. He leads us consciously or unconsciously.

"Wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought." Ever go through a length of time, a period, in which you can't seem to sense any Presence, get no blessing, get nothing out of the Word, everything is dry and dead and you feel withered? That's part of the wilderness. Then we simply go by naked faith and say, "It is written, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee ." We'll take it by naked faith: "It is written."

You can practice this. These things work. I remember once I wanted to have a little time with the Lord and as I often do when I start out, I will frequently base my approach on Matthew 6:6, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door." That can mean many things. When thou has shut off the radio, the television set because there is a danger that we like to watch and pray. It doesn't usually work too well. When you are completely cut off from observation, being observed, being distracted, being disturbed, then pray to thy father which is in secret. That is one of my main pillars for praying: Shut the door, approach Him-not bring my shopping list. That has to wait, but a conscious approach to a present Father, whether I feel Him or not. It doesn't change anything.

"Thy father which is in secret." No matter how dead you feel, how dry you feel, how far away God seems to be, here is a strong pillar: thy father which IS in secret. I say, "Father, I thank You for Your Presence," whether I feel it or not.

You know what I did one time, more than once, but I'm thinking of a specific time. I was so eager to have a little sense of His Presence, and I didn't have it, so I said, "Father, I acknowledge Your Presence," because it says, and thy father which IS in secret. And I felt just as dead as the driest desert. DRY! No Spirit, nothing. I said, "Father, I thank You for Your Presence. I know You're here because You said so." I still got nothing. I said, " Father, I'm going to tell You something. You might just as well give me Your Presence because I know You're here whether You do or whether You don't." And it came. I just would not let Him kid me, if that's the way we can address this. So, in the wilderness, He is there. Where? There. Well, where is there? There, where you are in those circumstances, God is.

"How do you know?"

"It says so."

"Well, I know it says so, BUT " is failure to believe God just because we cannot sense His Presence.

"Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna." This manna was different things to different people. The word manna in the Hebrew means what is it. They had mysterious bread. Every morning they picked up the what is it. It says, some said it tasted like wafers of honey; others said it tasted like oil; and others said it tasted like this. They had a different perception. How come? This what is it meets everybody's diverse needs.

Have you ever heard people say, "Say, you know when he said that, that was just for me." What was that?

Another one would say, "Isn't that something, I didn't get a thing out of that, but when he said such and such a thing, that was for me." That's the what is it, bread from heaven. What is it? That is one thing to one person, another thing to another, one likes this flavor, another likes that flavor, but they were all fed and kept alive with God's what is it. If any of you are in the wilderness tonight or this weekend, I think the Lord is sending you some what is it.

Some said, "Oh, I'm so tired of this what is it. On Friday night it was what is it, the way of the Lord. Saturday morning we got more what is it. Saturday night again we go back to what is it. Sunday morning there is more what is it. It's coming out our mouths and ears ." They complained against the very bread, God's what is it, that sustained them in their wilderness during every kind of need. "Who fed thee in the wilderness with 'what is it,' which thy fathers knew not."

"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no." Deuteronomy 8:2

"Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee." You know there is such a thing as reflecting upon the past. When I think how God led me before I was saved, I marvel how I ever came through to the Lord, but we have no time for me to relate that. When we go through the wilderness or the darkness today, there is such a thing as reflecting on the past and remembering how God brought us through when we thought all hope had gone, and yet we came through.

There was a time when I was sick in the hospital, had surgery, and it looked like I wouldn't fly anymore, when it looked like I had my last trip around the world, that this was the end. Yet the Lord came along and raised me up, seven years ago now. Ever since then I've traveled around the world once a year. I'm still in orbit. When I think back, it sustains me in the present - and it can sustain you too. Let's not forget what God has done. That helps to sustain us in the situation we are in today.

"To know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no." It's in the wilderness experience when we're under pressure, when we're in God crucible as it were, with the fire burning underneath, in a situation calculated to bring out of our carnal nature all the little devils that are in it. I do not mean that now literally. It brings out all the meanness, all the tinder, all the discouragement. God puts us into situations and listens to our sputter. He hears what we say now, but He wants to find out so He knows what to do. I'm going to bring you out of the wilderness presently.

"He (God) found him (Israel) in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye." Deuteronomy 32:10

What's howling? Oh, fears, doubts, frustrations, temptations are howling in the wilderness. When things are howling in the wilderness, the Lord finds and leads us. God will find you in the wilderness and keep you as the apple of his eye.

The wilderness doesn't last forever. Deuteronomy 2:3 says, "Ye have compassed this mountain long enough; turn ye northward." And going down to verse 7, "He knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness; these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee." God comforts us. How people need comfort.

We had a girl in school who said, "Brother Beuttler, do you know what I'm praying for?" Well, how would I know? She said, "I am praying for the ministry of comfort. I want God to give me a ministry to people who are in despair and in need of help and comfort. What do you think about my prayer?"

I said, " Well, that's a great prayer, but I wonder what its fulfillment is going to cost you?"

She said, "Cost me?" She was such an innocent thing!

I said, "Yes, cost you."

She said, "Doesn't God answer prayer? "

I answered, "Yes, God answers prayer, but do you think He's going to hand you a pretty little box with a pink ribbon around it with your name on it, 'Here is the answer to your prayer.' Look here Suzie, first of all, God is not going to answer your prayer right away."

"Well, why not?"

I said, "Because God is going to take His time before He even gets started."

She asked, "How come?"

"God will wait and see whether your prayer arises from a fleeting emotion or some kind of euphoria you might have picked up somewhere or whether you really mean it. Then God, if He decides to answer will get to work, and things are going to happen to you. If you want a ministry of comfort, God is going to take you through deep distress. In all probability, where you find no one to give you comfort and you have to learn to find your own comfort from your own God. If you want to minister to the despairing, He's going to take you through despair and teach you in despair, and give you a ministry in your own despair, if you can stand it."

She woefully said, "Oh yea. Do you really think so?"

I answered, " No, I know so."

"Oh, it was nice talking to you, Brother Beuttler." As far as I could tell, that was the end of her ministry of comfort.

Where do you think I learned the way of the Lord in the wilderness - in a fairy tale book, the Encyclopedia Britannica, higher mathematics? You know better than that. I learned it when I walked in circles and had no one to give me direction, but my God and His Book. The greater the ministry, the bigger the price that you're going to pay for it. Real ministry that is going to amount to something is not found in God's bargain basement. You pay a stiff price. It's got to be that way.

Deuteronomy 2:7, " He knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness." That's for your comfort. I've already read Deuteronomy 32 about your preservation. Now what is God going to do? That brings us to the end of the tunnel. I think Isaiah 43:19 summarizes about everything, although I'll give you other things. Reading Isaiah 43:18-19:

"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth, shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."

What is God doing in the wilderness? Look here. Let's boil the whole answer down without boiling it up. In the wilderness, God is seeking to add a new dimension of whatever kind to our Christian experience. That's the principle, that's the essence. He will broaden our experience. He will improve our relationship with God. He will extend our knowledge of God. He will transform us another degree or two into the likeness of His Son. In summary He will add a new dimension to our Christian experience.

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Hosea 2:14

Let's look at the word allure. If we can imagine, in our thinking eliminate from a word an evil connotation, we could say, I will entice her into the wilderness. Or again, if we could eliminate the evil connotation of a word, I will seduce her, entice her, allure her into the wilderness. I don't suppose this is necessary, but who knows. A man can drive along. It has happened many times, stop next to a little girl walking, offer her a bit of candy, "Come here honey, I have some candy to give you ." She accepts and he takes her off. That would be alluring or enticing.

You walk down a street in Bangkok, Thailand in the western hotel areas. All of a sudden you have a lady walking next to you and is she ever painted up. Whee! And she makes those cookoo eyes, and a proposition. Well, you don't have to be allured, enticed, you understand.

I was in a Paris restaurant eating there and the door opened. You know you look around and I saw a lady walk in. When she walked in, I could tell at once she had spotted me. They look for Americans you know. Sure enough, here she sat down next to me. I went on about my eating.

"How do you do Mr. American?"

"All right."

"How do you like Paris?"

"Fine."

"Have you been here before?"

"Oh yes."

"Honey, wouldn't you like to come with me?" She looked at me and you could tell right away what was what. She put on some big goofy glasses, "Honey, you're so difficult."

"Please leave me alone." Five minutes later she walked out with an American officer.

I will allure her. How does God allure us into the wilderness? Now we have to think here without any evil connotations. I hope you can. If you can't, well, what can I do? The Lord gives us a hunger, "Oh God, I want more of You. Amen. Lord, my soul is so hungry for You. Lord, draw me in a new way. Do a new thing for me Lord. O God, I have to have more of you. I have such a hunger, such a drawing in my heart. Lord, I'm ready for anything. Thy will be done."

One of our Bible school students said, " Lord, I will give all I've got for Your best."

And the Lord answered him and said, "It will cost you just that."

We can say, "O Lord, I surrender all."

The Lord says, "O really!"

" Yes, all Lord, so help me."

And things start to happen. We get up in church and say, "Folk pray for me. I don't know what's wrong. The devil must be attacking me. This went wrong, that went wrong. I don't know anymore where I'm at." Boohoo, boohoo. Well, God's answering prayer.

God gives us a hunger, a desire, a yearning. We think of a bundle of blessing. He does too, but the blessings lie beyond the wilderness, so He allures us, entices us into the wilderness to take us through the wilderness, and while we're going through to answer our prayers.

"I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Obviously there is distress, there is sorrow, there is suffering. He brings His comfort, but then Hosea 2:15: "I will give her her vineyards." Vineyards stands for Pentecost - I mean the experience, the things of the Spirit. And the valley of Achor (or weeping) for a door of hope. In our wilderness there may be weeping, things to weep about. And she shall sing THERE. Whew!

He takes us to the wilderness to give us a new song, a song in the wilderness - and she shall sing there. No more groaning, moaning, complaining. She shall sing there: O this is like heaven to me in the wilderness. Then we've got something. When we can lie on our bed in pain and still praise the Lord.

I'm thinking of a pastor who lost his boy in a very unfortunate way. They were very careful with their children. They took them to the doctor every six months for a checkup. They wanted to be sure that nothing snuck up on them. When they were done with the doctor, they went home. A short time thereafter, one boy got sick and died from the sickness. The doctor said, "That's the one thing I forgot to check. If I had checked it and found it, I could have saved the boy. That's the one thing I forgot."

Now why would the doctor forget the very one thing that cost the boy's life? Well, I wouldn't know, but one thing I do know. I was speaking at the funeral. I saw the pastor stand back by the door. That man had the glow of the radiance, the joy of the Lord on his face at the funeral. That man was aglow with the joy of the Lord - and they loved their children. Now she broke, but he - I still see him stand there.

He said to me, "Brother Beuttler, people wouldn't understand this, but the Lord has given me such a joy as this little casket passed me, I could hardly contain from shouting." Whew! That's Christianity, isn't it? That man loved the boy, but he could hardly hold back the rejoicing in the Spirit in spite of what happened. " And she shall sing there."

Now when we can have the joy of the Lord when we're standing in front of the casket of a loved one. When we can keep the joy of the Lord when things go wrong, we've got something. "And she shall sing there."

Two points from Song of Solomon and then you have enough to practice, and that's for sure, and so do I. Reading from SS 3:6:

"Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?"

"Who is this perfumed with myrrh and frankincense? " Hey! The wilderness is God's perfume shop where He puts upon us the very perfume of the life and character of Jesus Christ. But He doesn't put it on the outside. He puts it on the inside from which the very nature of Jesus Christ is evidenced openly. This woman here came out of the wilderness perfumed. When a lot of Christians come out of the wilderness, they smell like a little animal dressed in black and white. (Laughter) Do you understand? They smell like a little cat dressed in black and white that nobody can stand. In this wilderness, the Lord gives us His perfume.

"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" Song of Solomon 8:5

Now in the Song of Solomon there are three classes of people: the bridegroom (Solomon), the bride and the daughters of Jerusalem. In the passage just read, it is the daughters of Jerusalem that are watching the bride coming out of the wilderness. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? The bride had been in the wilderness. I do not know how she got there, but the bridegroom came for her and brought her out.

Hopefully we are the bride of Jesus Christ, and if you don't know what to do in the wilderness, sit down and wait for the bridegroom. Wait for your beloved to bring you out. These daughters looked over into the wilderness and said, " Who is that? Who is that woman that's leaning on the arm of her beloved?" They would have liked to be that woman.

Here the bridegroom brings his bride out on his arm. She's now relying upon him. So in the wilderness, among other things, he perfumes. And if we can't find our way out, he'll even come for us, and so to speak, give us his arm and say, "Honey, just lean on me. Come with me. We'll go out of the wilderness together."

The end result will be, or can be, the very envy of your Christian friends, "My but you've had a great experience. My but the Lord is so real to you. My how your life has been changed. I wish the Lord would do for me what He did for you."

Let Him take you into the wilderness. If you don't rebel there, throw His Book in His face, close up your ears, and throw in the sponge, but keep trusting Him, believing Him, submit to Him and wait for Him, He will come for you and offer you His arm, His support, His strength, and bring you out to the envy of your fellow believers. You've received a new thing, a new dimension in the way of the Lord in the wilderness. That's it for tonight.