Perils In The Wilderness
Walter Beuttler

Last evening I was talking with you about the ways of the Lord and indicated that we're continuing with that this morning. I have some things in mind for tomorrow, but I want to keep my options open there. Hopefully, tomorrow morning, I expect to take you into some of the super deliciousmous ways of the Lord, and the spiritual life.

Last night we used Moses' prayer to begin, " Show me now thy way that I may know thee." I've also mentioned that God, in His Word, complains on repeated occasions the lack of His people knowing and understanding His ways. In Jeremiah, for instance, He says, " They have not known my ways."

We also talked about the ways of the Lord in adversity. Now I realize that the subject like the ways of the Lord in adversity is not likely to appeal to the young as well as it will appeal to the older. You can be sure the day will come when you'll be older, when the days of adversity will come your way more than they are likely to do now.

Just this morning we picked up the Washington Post, which is not my favorite paper, but the only one I can get here seemingly. There is a story of an old couple. She is 76; I think he is 80 something. A pathetic story of an old lonely couple in a trailer, both of them arthritics; one needing the other; spending more money for doctors and medicines than for food; worried about the future (you can read it for yourself); sitting in their little trailer all day Sunday alone; sitting in the dark by night to save electric. Apparently, their children do not particularly bother, though they live not too far away. You don't know what might come your way.

The other day I was watching a news program on TV about the failure of the government's effort to get people to cut down or quit smoking. You have seen the effort the government has made on TV for some time. Now that the statistics are in, smoking has increased by 5%.

They found that the younger people just don't give a hoot. And they got to look into the reason for it. They find that the government can say all they like, "cigarettes kill ," or give them all sorts of warnings, the youngsters feel, "Hoo! That's far away. Oh that's for the older; we're not old, we're young; we're living now; we're not living in the future." They find that the youngsters just pay no attention. It's too far away. Now they're trying a different tactic.

But you can be sure that thousands of those youngsters in the decades to come will lie in hospitals writhing in pain. They say lung cancer is one of the most painful deaths, writhing in pain, and listening to the doctor's verdict as to its cause - smoking. Their day will come. Now they laugh at the government's efforts; laugh at the risks; want their fun; they're living now, but the years have a way of marching on inexorably, and all of the young will eventually get there.

We recognize that, of course, but we're so apt to ignore it. I would suggest to you folkses, and I'm speaking to the younger here now as they're quite a few here: even though subjects like adversity, or darkness (which is likely on the menu tonight, quite likely, but I keep my options open), or the wilderness, which is on the menu this morning. You might feel, "Brother, what stuff! Oh, why doesn't he go: On Monday I am happy, on Tuesday, full of joy?.. ."

Well, there are going to be other times coming. They have a way of arriving, sometimes very unexpected, far earlier than we had ever thought. We need a fortification of divine truth in our hearts of the knowledge of His ways, the knowledge of God in those situations, so we do not fall by the wayside, fail and quit the faith, but go through with God.

This morning we are coming to the way of the Lord in the wilderness. "The wilderness! Who wants the wilderness?" Well, nobody, but a lot of things are unwanted and come just the same with stark reality.

You know, I've been in Bible school many years, and of all the situations some of those students had gone through when they came to Bible school. I remember one girl, just before she came, her Father shot her Mother, then himself, and she was left alone. She must have been about 18 or something like that. All of a sudden - well anyhow, that's on the menu.

We have quite a bit to cover, and I'll try to do my best to give you the best part of it. We're going to turn to the Book of Numbers.

You know, folkses, it's amazing what situations people go through. I was over at the Rock Church recently. An old, old lady came up to me right after the morning service. That poor soul wept. She said, "Brother Beuttler, you were talking about me."

What she meant was, "You talked about the very thing, the very situation in which I needed help at this very time." And there are dozens of others right in this church in a similar situation.

"And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran." Numbers 10:12

You will recognize that here you have the leading of the glory of God, the cloud. This was the manifest presence of God. You have the leading of the manifest presence of God leading His people from one wilderness into another. Sometimes we are barely out of one situation, and breath a sigh of relief, and give a testimony in church, and tell the neighbors all about it, when lo and behold, here comes another one. And you say, "Well, well, when it rains, it pours."

What do I mean by wilderness? That's difficult to define. In fact, I cannot define it, not in our sense, but for a general descriptive statement. There are times when we get into a situation of whatever nature through whatever apparent cause; a situation in which you don't know where you're at; whether you're coming or going; whether you're growing or shrinking; where you don't know what it's all about; confused, lost as to direction; at a loss to know what to do. You can be in a situation where you must act, must make a decision, and don't know which way to decide.

Now that's a predicament! You can't understand what God is doing, why He is doing it, or why isn't He doing what He should be doing. And you say, "I just can't understand this, I don't know where I'm at. I don't even know where it is."

You don't know what to do. You go to the phone, if you're foolish enough, and call up Aunt Susie to see what she thinks. She'll tell you! She might even tell you, "You're a hypocrite."

You take a chance when you ask people what they think. "Have you examined yourself? Are you sure you're in the faith? Is there a monkey in the woodpile or something?"

"What do you think sister?" you ask. " Oh yea, really? Uh ha?"

"What do you think?" Well, if you shop around by way of telephone for the answer you're looking for, which in most cases people want to hear what they like to believe, whether it's right or wrong. Sooner or later you're going to find somebody, if for no other reason: that one fool will always find a bigger one to admire him.

I have found that there is nothing like going to God. And we're going to go to God this morning. We're going to go to His Word, and learn some things about experiences in situations which, on the surface, might appear to be the very negation of His promises; utterly contrary to what we had expected, or what others expect - where you're dumbfounded, puzzled, discombobulated and don't know what on earth to do. Let's see what God has to say.

"You mean that God leads through things like that?"

"Well, yea."

"Wonder what for? "

We'll find out from the Book. First of all, the wilderness is a place full of perils. We're using Paul's words here in II Corinthians, the idea being: when we go through these places, there are dangers, perils, pitfalls we need to avoid.

"In journeys often (some of us know something about that), in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness (Did you catch it? There are perils in the wilderness.)