God uses the wilderness to have personal, intimate contact with man. He made a covenant with Israel in the Sinai desert. He spoke to Moses from a burning bush. He led David to the backcountry in times of trouble:
“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.” – Psalm 55:6-7
The term wilderness is used 304 times in the King James Bible. It can describe a landscape or location. Or God’s character. The Hebrew word for “wilderness,” midbar, shares the same root as the Hebrew word for “bee,” devorah. The words are related in meaning. What do bees and the wilderness have in common? Order. God’s creation is a place of order because He is a God of order. Hebrew researcher Jeff Benner writes in his book The Living Words Volumne One, “A beehive is a colony of insects that live in perfectly ordered society, and the wilderness is a place of order where all organisms of life live in perfect balance and harmony.”
If the wilderness is a place of order, cities are a place of disorder, according to Benner. The Hebrew word for “city” is iyr. It can also mean terror, anguish, darkness or something vile. I was at my workplace in Seattle this year when a May Day protest turned violent several blocks away. Streets were choked with pepper spray. Rioters tossed rocks, bottles and metal pipes. The melee ended with eight injured officers, 17 arrests and storefront damage. A scene of chaos. That’s why I like to escape to the wilderness. It’s a place to recharge and regroup. A good place to draw near to God.