To any willing observer, the invisible God reveals visible expressions of his existence and certain attributes in and through nature. The Bible explains the reason for this in Ecclesiastes 3:11 and Romans 1:19-20. They tell us that God has place within the human heart an innate awareness of his existence—which, through contact with nature, can surface from the subconscious and move into our consciousness.
Wild nature, then, is a universal call for people of all faiths to seek encounters with God, and it is often in the wilderness that people feel closest to God. Theology professor, William Dyrness, explains: “The universal reaction to [nature’s] pristine beauty is that one feels close to God, or whatever universal power one believes in. Here more than any other place we are sharing in God’s own delight in his handiwork, the delight that moved him to say in the beginning, ‘It is very good.’”
Keep in mind, however, as we saw in part four, only God as described in the Judeo/Christian religion has the necessary qualifications to reveal his presence in and through nature. Only this God could author the Book of Nature. That said, nature can be a compelling introduction for any impartial spiritual seeker who wishes to meet the true God of creation. General Revelation (the Book of Nature) provides a legitimate way for people of any faith to begin to learn truth and knowledge about the only true and living God—with the help of Christian witness—and thereby begin to recognize their mistaken assumptions about other so-called (non-existent) gods.
Since the Christian Scriptures provide the most insight into God’s general revelation in nature, it is not surprising that its authors would record many examples of people encountering and communing with God in wild, lonely habitats—and it was in the wilderness that God often reached out to his faithful followers. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. John the Baptist received his commission to be the forerunner of the Jewish Messiah (Jesus) in the wilderness (Luke 3:2-4), and it was in the wilderness that He preach his “baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4). Jesus confronted and rebuked Satan’s temptations in a desert wilderness prior to beginning his ministry among the Jews (Matt. 4:1-11). He appointed His twelve chosen apostles on a mountainside (Mark 3:13); preached his most famous sermon in a mountain valley (Matt. 5:1); and gave a few of His disciples a glimpse of His heavenly splendor on a “high mountain” (Matt. 17:1-2).
This brings us to a turning point in this series of blog articles on “Encountering God in the Wilderness.” Future blogs will focus on examples of the many symbols and illustrations widespread throughout nature that God uses to disclose fundamental truths and insight into His divine nature, eternal character, and eternal promises to the human race—and all life on Earth. This new direction will begin in next week’s blog. (C)