Surveying the Wilderness of Judah

My name is Brielle English and I am currently a student at the West Institute in Laramie, WY. The program is equipping me for a lifetime of ministry, wherever the LORD leads me.

Visiting Israel brings the Bible to life in a way beyond that of pictures and descriptions. Often times, it can be easy to skim past the details in Biblical narrative, paying little attention to the layout of the land. For me, this is especially true. Reading maps and commentaries has been helpful, but finally witnessing Israel has opened my eyes and helped me to read scripture with more clarity. I know that this will forever change the way I read the Bible and teach others.

The vast Judean Wilderness was striking. I was blown away by how quickly the land changed into a desolate and dry stretch occupied by hills of rock and sand. In the midst of a strenuous hike up to the top of Masada, I was reminded of how often the wilderness is mentioned in the Bible, in reference to the exact area that I was standing in. Though there was little evidence of life and water was sparse, the wilderness was a location often traveled to and through in the time of the Bible. In this location David fled and hid from Saul, and Jesus was tested by the devil. As I looked out at the wilderness from the top of Masada, I was in awe of David and later Jesus’ ability to survive and rely on the LORD in such a place of desolation.

Though the accounts of the wilderness are moving when reading the Biblical narratives, It was profound to see this region of the land in person. I will forever keep the picture in my mind of looking out into the rocky cliffs, and imagining David seeking refuge as he ran for his life in this same area. What faith it required to trust God in a place such as this.

To stand in the wilderness has equipped to ultimately better understand God’s Word by understanding the land of Israel. It has given me a depth of understanding that I could not have obtained elsewhere. I am excited to continue studying God’s Word with a greater knowledge of the reality of the wilderness, and how difficult it would have been to travel through and survive in. This has prepared me to read God’s Word more accurately, and to have the ability to teach God’s Word with a real picture and understanding in mind. What a joy it is to stand in and learn the land of the Bible.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63: 1-3 (A Psalm of David, When he was in the wilderness of Judah)