Israel and Jesus take a very similar journey.
Following God’s rescue in the water (Red Sea, baptism) they are both tempted in the wilderness. Jesus response in Matthew 4 is the way Israel should have responded. Jesus refuses to be driven by relevance, spectacle, and power. He will find his identity in faithfulness to God’s calling upon his life. Jesus will be for Israel what Israel was supposed to be for the world.
But here’s the thing. Both Matthew and Exodus indicate that the Spirit led God’s people/Jesus in the wilderness. The wilderness is the place where God shapes us into who God wants us to be. It could be that every leg of the journey (slavery, freedom, wandering, celebration, Promised Land) uniquely possesses the ability to shape us in ways that other parts of the journey cannot. So whether you find yourself in plenty or want, success or failure, God can only work with you exactly where you actually are.
So, don’t pretend to be somewhere or someone your not because God can’t work with you if you are in denial. The desert can be a gift because it teaches us about sin, ourselves, God, and our struggle to relate to another.
In Matthew and Luke, the text reads: “If you are the son of God” (the words of Satan). A better translation might be, “Since you are the son of God.” If you are a son or daughter of God, life going is to test you. And those tests are meant to prepare for what’s ahead, even if you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you.
Thank God for the tests. Because God is working on you.