Golden Pillar Class Study, teacher Diana Licon.

The Mojave desert is 22,000 square miles of desert and is home to the Devil’s Playground. It is a barren wilderness of sand, dunes, rocks, and salt flats. It seems like it goes forever and you’re not getting anywhere if you walk in the desert. The desert is surrounded by rocky, dry mountains. The area only gets 1 inch of rain per year. It’s called a rain shadow desert because the surrounding mountains block the rain. The people of Baghdad, California in San Bernadino county had one period when it didn’t rain for 767 days. Temperatures in Death Valley can be 120 degrees. Sometimes people see mirages in the desert that appear to be a great lake because of the heat waves off the desert. People get so thirsty they head for the lake but keep going and going and never get there. They keep following a false hope in the intense heat and barren land, so it eventually leads to death. There are creatures we don’t want to be around – tarantulas,  poisonous rattle snakes and bats. This reminds us of Ezekiel’s prophesy of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-9).

Commentary of Matthew Henry says, “By a prophetic impulse and a divine power he was, in vision, carried out and set in the midst of a valley, probably that plain spoken of ch. 3:22, where God then talked with him; and it was full of bones, of dead men’s bones, not piled up on a heap, as in a charnel-house, but scattered upon the face of the ground, as if some bloody battle had been fought here, and the slain left unburied till all the flesh was devoured or putrefied, and nothing left but the bones, and those disjointed from one another and dispersed. He passed by them round about, and he observed not only that they were very many (for there are multitudes gone to the congregation of the dead), but that, lo, they were very dry, having been long exposed to the sun and wind. The bones that have been moistened with marrow (Job 21:24), when they have been any while dead, lose all their moisture, and are dry as dust. The body is now fenced with bones (Job 10:11), but then they will themselves be defenceless. The Jews in Babylon were like those dead and dry bones, unlikely ever to come together, to be so much as a skeleton, less likely to be formed into a body…”

The dry bones are typical of the unsaved. When we weren’t saved, we saw a mirage of things we thought we needed but the mirage disappeared when we got there. Every soul that isn’t saved is in that barren, dry land and reaching for mirages that don’t satisfy. We know this because we can see a lot of incredibly wealthy people who aren’t satisfied and some even committed suicide. We felt that dry and barren life that didn’t satisfy. Wealthy people have huge homes but they’re empty and people don’t even live there most of the time. They have several mansions and seem to think that the more they get, they’ll be satisfied. But it’s all a mirage because the only thing that will truly satisfy is Christ. Our homes and things are only temporary and we can’t take them with us when we die. We’ll stand alone to face God at that time. The sooner people realize those things are mirages, the closer they’ll be to finding where the true blessing and living water are that truly satisfy. When Sister Diana finally got out of the Mojave desert and began to see trees, it made her really appreciate seeing something besides the barren desert. When people are coming to Christ, they get a glimpse and see the life of being saved is attractive. God pulls on us to see there’s something that can really satisfy.

Psalm 63:1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirst land, where no water is;

Once we taste the water of salvation and satisfaction, we desire that life and thirst for God to take control of our life.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

People in the world have short times when things seem wonderful in their life. However, those times are like the one inch of rain in the desert. The flowers spring up in the desert when it rains, but it only lasts a short time – one rainfall, one batch of flowers, and then back to the barren desert. There’s a prosperous place of abundance for us in the Lord. It’s where we find real living water for our life to be refreshed. There’s peace and contentment only found in Christ.

Psalm 147:7-8 Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.

Mt. Hermon is at the northern boundary of where Joshua had a great victory when God led him to the promised land. Blessings come from the cooling breezes, rains, and cold snow water of Mt. Hermon. This is so different than the land in the Mojave desert. The Mojave desert doesn’t allow water to come in. In the same way, the thinking of the world won’t let souls get the refreshment from the living water of the Lord. Mt. Hermon brings in water and refreshing. This is the land that the children of Israel inherited – Mt.  Hermon where the refreshing rains come. Our land is in the shadow of Mt. Hermon with refreshing, cooling breezes. It’s where the dew falls gently and it isn’t severe when it does storm. When you think spiritually of Mt. Hermon, there’s a blessing in the water coming from the place God prepared for us (the Church Of God, Mt. Zion) to moisten our hearts. Without water, how will you grow? When we receive the moisture, it makes us ready to receive the seed of God’s word. The world sees the growth of the seeds that sprout, even in times of great difficulty. We show “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (as the song says) to the world.

Psalm 133:3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Our land becomes Hephzibah which means, My delight is in her. When we realize where we’ve come from, there’s no turning back to our Mojave desert. The devil will try to lure us back to that barren land, but it isn’t worth it. It’s worth it to stay true and have satisfaction and singing in our heart.

The lyrics of the “River Of Pleasure” (Barney  Warren, 1891) say:

1 Oh, drink of the river of pleasure, A deep, living stream of delight; The source of all blessings forever, It flashes in heaven’s pure light.

Refrain: Oh, drink of the river of pleasure and love, I feel it so deep in my soul; It gladdens the one who is born from above, And maketh the wounded heart whole.

2 Oh, drink of the river of pleasure, ’Tis sparkling with joy for thy soul; It flows in the bosom forever, That’s given to Father’s control. [Refrain]

3 Oh, drink of the river of pleasure, For thee it is flowing along; Down from the bounteous Giver, Its music a sweet, charming song. [Refrain]

4 Oh, drink of the river of pleasure, And surely thy spirit shall know, Thy longing and thirsting are over, Thy blessings forever shall flow.[Refrain]

The longer we’re saved, the more we realize how we need to die out to ourself and our flesh. It’s so much better than the Mojave with all its heat and vile, poisonous snakes and lizards. Years ago Sister Diana had to visit women’s prisons to do fire safety inspections as part of her job. One of the women looked so sweet and Diana thought, oh she must be here for a minor crime. She found out the woman had killed her mother. Thank God that we are what we appear to be. We don’t have hidden things and we’re honest so we can trust each other in the Church Of God. When someone is dying, their skin gets all dried out and waxy looking because all the moisture is sucked out of them. That’s how we are in sin. Some can’t seem to make their way out because they’re following mirages. When we’re together, it’s a beautiful thing! We don’t want to go back to that barren and dry land. Come to the living water so the blessings can overflow and others will see and come too. When we come to the end of our life, the Lord will check our water level as we stand at the judgment to see if we have living water or the mirages of the Mojave desert of dry bones.

Isaiah 62:4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.