by Tony Alamo
And the Angel of the LORD spoke unto Philip again, “Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert” (Acts 8:26).
Evangelist Philip went to Samaria. While he was there, a revival broke out. This revival was accompanied by outstanding miracles of power. The sick were healed, demons were cast out, the glory of the LORD was manifested, and the whole city was moved and stirred by the preaching of Philip. Philip was at the height of an apostolic ministry with GOD moving through him in a mighty way. Then one night, the Angel of the LORD spoke to him saying, “Philip, arise and leave the revival and go down toward Gaza into the desert.” I think there would be some questioning in the heart of Philip as he listened to those directions telling him to leave the revival. Leave the move of GOD? Leave the demonstration of God’s power and go down into the desert? There’s no water there and no air-conditioning. They don’t have a McDonald’s there or a Colonel Sanders. LORD, I don’t like the desert; I want to stay here with the revival. This revival needs me. The power of GOD is moving, the revival is on, souls are being saved, I’m needed here!
But Philip started his journey down past Jerusalem on the highway that leads along the shore of the Mediterranean and out into North Africa. As he walked along the road he prayed, “All right, LORD, I am here. What do YOU want me to do?” As he looked up, along came one of the Cadillacs of his day—a wealthy man riding in a chariot, dressed in royal apparel. He was reading the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah as he rode along. Seeing Philip, he commanded the chariot to stop, and invited Philip to get in beside him. Philip stepped into the chariot and noticed the man was reading the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. “Do you understand what you’re reading?” he asked. (He was reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah which speaks of the LORD JESUS CHRIST.) The eunuch replied, “How can I understand if somebody doesn’t tell me?”
GOD had sent Philip to explain this scripture to this man. The man believed, became saved, and was baptized, all on the same day. History tells us that this man was one in great authority, the treasurer of the whole land of Ethiopia, who returned to Ethiopia and brought the WORD of GOD to those people there and established a church there (the roots of which are still there today because Philip was obedient to God’s WORD and went down into the desert).1
Many men of GOD have been sent to the desert.2 This is something that every one of us would like to avoid if it were at all possible. We find it uncomfortable when GOD cuts across our path and says to us, “I want you to go down to the desert.” But in every life that GOD uses comes this desert experience. In Philip’s experience, GOD had ministered to him; he was caught up in the SPIRIT and translated out of the desert over to the seacoast by the supernatural power of GOD.
The desert experience is an absolute necessity in the lives of real men and women of GOD.3 HE does not choose to perfect HIS vessels in the city, but rather in the desert place. You can tell when a person is in the desert because you’ll hear him say, “I feel so dry, the Heavens feel like iron, and I don’t understand what is happening to me.” GOD is bringing you into a desert experience. We are so interested in the ministry and in giving out, and that is good. We are so interested in the multitudes. We want to be going, but GOD is saying to us, “Son (or daughter), I want you to come aside. I want to draw you away from the crowd. I want to separate you. I want to get you alone, out here under the stars in a solitary place, where I can talk to you. I want to burn MY WORD into your eternal soul.4 I want to put MY message into your mouth.5 I want to get down into your innermost being. I want to do a work in you.”6 And this is something we are not always prepared for. We cry, “But I don’t like the solitary place. I like people around me. I like people to know what I’m going through. I like people to sympathize with me. I like people to understand. I like companionship.” But GOD is saying, “I’m pressing you into the desert, and if you really love ME and believe MY WORD, you’ll go. I’m bringing you there because I want to meet you there, alone, in the desert.”
Let’s talk about this desert. I thank GOD there are streams of water. I thank GOD for mountain tops. But I also thank GOD that in the life of every man and woman who goes by the name of Christian, there is an appointment with destiny. Everyone that will ever come forth with a burning message, and every prophet that has the boldness to stand before the face of the whole nation and even the world, is the man that GOD has led to a solitary place—a desert place—a lonely place—a place of midnight darkness—a place where there is no moisture—that is the place where GOD speaks and deals and shapes and fashions and forms.7 Then GOD is able to send that man or that woman forth from that desert with life-giving Water and HIS message of eternal salvation.
When GOD called Moses, he was eighty years old. HE had allowed Moses to receive an education and to live like a prince.8 For forty years, he was waited on and catered to. He bathed himself in the sparkling waters of the Nile River with servants waiting on him hand and foot. His clothes were the finest of needlework and he feasted on the royal dainties of Pharaoh’s table as he learned the ways of the Egyptians. Then one day, GOD said to Moses, “Phase one of your education is over, and now I have a more important appointment to keep with you.” GOD led him over onto the backside of the desert.9 For forty more years he trudged up and down the sand dunes until his skin was burned with the sun and his eyes were red from the sand, until GOD had worked the solitariness of the desert into the very soul of Moses.10 And now GOD was ready to keep that appointment. His life was broken up into three forty-year equal segments; forty years in Egypt, forty years on the desert, and then forty years in judgment; and he was given the law for Israel, and for the world.
Moses met a burning bush on the backside of the desert.11 He heard the voice of the LORD, obeyed it, and came forth with the fire of a prophet and the glory of GOD in his soul.12 He led between two and three million Israelites out of captivity, working great signs and wonders and miracles—because he had met GOD in a desert place.13
If you’re going to God’s people with signs and wonders and miracles, and you are going to carry a rod that brings deliverance, there is also a burning bush that GOD has for you in HIS desert place, that you must first meet. Don’t think that someone is going to call you out of the congregation and lay hands on you and impart a ministry to you that is going to bring men and women out of blindness and bondage. Don’t think that you are going to attend Bible school and somebody will hand you a diploma that will automatically qualify you to deliver your people. If you want to bring people out of the bondage of Egypt, then you are going to have to meet GOD on the backside of the desert. GOD will take away the pleasures. HE will take away the comforts. HE will take away the things that you’ve trusted in, and HE will drive you from men, in HIS SPIRIT, to a solitary place where it’s just you and GOD. Every true prophet of GOD, every warrior for the LORD, anyone who ever expects to accomplish for GOD must come face to face with his Creator on the backside of the desert.
Joseph, come and testify. “I was the eleventh son of my father.14 I had spiritual dreams and spiritual visions,15 and I knew that I had a date with destiny; but I was one that lived in a solitary place. My father’s children, my own brothers, despised me.16 I lived as an outcast in my father’s home.17 I was the one that was sent to live in the dungeon and in the gloominess of prison.”18 Joseph, how can you sit as a mighty prince over the land? Did you have a desert experience? “Indeed, I met God’s qualifications in the dungeon of Pharaoh.” Where did you learn this forgiveness and this equity? Where did you learn the compassion that you feel toward other human beings? “I learned it from crying my way through the lonely hours as I peered through the bars of Pharaoh’s prison. That’s where I learned the compassion of GOD.”
John, how is it that you can stand with such eloquence? John, how is it that you can move this multitude to repentance? John, how did this fire and this power and this passion come into your life, that you can sway a nation with your preaching against sin? “I left my father’s home as a young man and went and heeded the call of the HOLY SPIRIT, and lived in the desert.19 I wore a leather girdle and ate wild honey and grasshoppers,20 and I met the LORD GOD on the backside of the desert. The WORD of GOD came to my heart, and I came out of the desert with zeal and the glory of GOD in my soul. Then and only then was I able to preach a message of repentance that could bring people to their knees.”
After Paul was converted on the Damascus road, he preached CHRIST for a time.21 Then he went into the Arabian Desert for two years.22 The Scriptures tell us nothing about these years, but he disappeared into the desert for two years after his conversion and lived in a lonely solitary place. Only then did he come forth as the mighty apostle of GOD.
And even YOU, LORD JESUS; YOU who have been anointed from before the foundations of the earth to bring eternal salvation to a lost and dying world.23 YOU, JESUS—yes, even the LORD—where are YOU going? Are YOU going to the temple in Jerusalem to proclaim Yourself as the Messiah? “No, I am pressed in the SPIRIT to go into the wilderness for forty days.”24 And in those days of continuous fasting and prayer, HE proved to Satan the power of God’s HOLY WORD and came forth out of the desert, full of grace and truth, to execute the mission HE was on from Heaven.25 Yes, even King JESUS did HIS time on the desert, and many more times than just then.
Every man and every woman that GOD has ever laid HIS hand upon and called, HE brings to a desert place. I’m talking about a solitary place in your spiritual life where GOD separates you, when people don’t understand you, when you know that your time has come to be used of GOD. GOD says, “I’m not going to send anyone to pray over or for you. You are going to have to do your own praying.”26 You are going to meet GOD Almighty face to face. GOD will take you out to that desert place where you will either come to grips with your walk with GOD or you will die. You will lie on your face before GOD and cry out in agony until you find that rightful place in GOD. You’ll find a new relationship with GOD, and you’ll never care again when GOD tells you to go to Nineveh, because you’ve plugged into the throne of GOD yourself, and HIS glory is before your face constantly. I’m talking about a place where GOD instructs you, and you receive HIS instruction. It’s a place where there is no human comfort for you, and where nobody understands what you are doing.
What do you think David was going through when he had six hundred men around him and not one of them understood him? He said, “My soul is thirsting for life; GOD, where have YOU gone? I can’t feel YOU. My soul thirsteth for the living GOD.”27 David was in a place where GOD wasn’t coming to him and speaking to him, and he had to stand on the WORD of GOD that was working within him. He had to have faith in the goodness and the mercy of the LORD, that GOD would somehow carry him through this trial and spiritual desert.28
GOD is trying to grow some men and women up. You say, “GOD called me to prophesy.” Oh, HE did, did HE? First let me see the sand in your shoes. When the prophets of old came with the WORD of the LORD, some of them were stoned, some thrown in jails, and others ostracized and even killed.29 And here you are, the first time you suffer a little persecution, you cry and say, “I’m going to backslide.” But if you let HIM and yield to HIS SPIRIT, GOD will perfect you in that desert place and mature you.
There will come a time in your experience when GOD shuts people out and shuts you in with HIM, and you cry, “GOD, nobody understands me.” GOD answers back, “I don’t want them to. You are just looking for a shoulder to cry on, and I want you to cry on MY shoulder.” Some of you are in that desert place right now. Others of you are beginning to come out of the desert. You’ve been with GOD. You are talking to GOD, and GOD is talking to you. You’re meeting God’s terms. You’ve found that place in GOD where you are unmovable and unshakable. You’re not up and down in your Christian walk. You’ve come face to face with GOD and with reality. You’ve learned the lessons of the desert well. You know how to pray, and you know how to take hold of HIS promises. You know who you are, and you know who GOD is. You don’t need human reassurance, because you’ve heard from GOD Himself. You’re not hearing second hand, but you are talking to GOD directly, and HE is talking back.
“Arise and go down to the desert. I have something for you in the desert: perplexities, disappointments, heartaches, reverses.”30 You can be in the desert physically, you can be there mentally, or you can be there spiritually. But GOD is dealing with your heart in that desert place.
Why, Philip, why are you going to the desert? “Because there is a man there who is going to turn a kingdom and a nation unto GOD.” GOD does not put you in a place of suffering because HE is displeased with you. GOD only allows the choicest to suffer. Suffering is not for run-of-the-mill people, because GOD doesn’t bother to grind anything but good wheat.31
You ask, “How come others have had it so easy and I’ve had it so hard?” They had it easy because GOD isn’t asking them to stand like an oak tree. “Why is it that so-and-so has so much in material goods?” It is because that’s all GOD has for them. GOD can’t trust them with suffering. HE can’t put any fire under them or they would burn up. GOD doesn’t waste HIS furnace of affliction. If there isn’t gold in your soul, GOD wouldn’t waste the furnace on you. If there isn’t something in you that will come forth with divine life, GOD will not send a trial or a tribulation your way. The trials and tribulations are for the saints of GOD that carry HIS WORD to humanity. The badge of Christian achievement is when that persecution that came upon JESUS, comes upon you.
Everyone loves to be patted on the back and hear people say good things about them. They glow like a neon light bulb. They love for people to love them and to think well of them. They don’t like to hear people say, “Stay away from him. He’s a heretic; he’s in false doctrine.” But what does GOD say… “Beware, son, when all men speak well of you. That is no badge of distinction. You are not on God’s record of good behavior when everyone is saying good things about you. But when they revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for MY name’s sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad and dance for joy for great is your reward in Heaven.”32 So it should be music to your ears when men speak evil of you because of the name of JESUS.
GOD is looking for some Moseses, and some John the Baptists, and some Josephs, and some Deborahs, and some Samuels, because the world is in darkness and needs to have the Light of life delivered to them. HE wants those men and women to come out of the wilderness who have met GOD in those secret places, in the lonely hours, those heart-wrenching hours when you can’t sleep and you have to pray, those only-known-to-GOD hours when the only moisture is the tears that run like rivers from your eyes as you cry out to GOD, “GOD, see me through this trial; help me make it through another day. Don’t let me go under, GOD. Give me the strength, the inner strength, to rise up anew and afresh in Your SPIRIT. Somewhere in the crying and the tears and the toils and the agony, GOD help me to forgive this time. Don’t let this hurt be so deep that I can’t forgive. Wash me in Your precious blood and fill me with an outpouring of Your SPIRIT.” You’ve agonized all night until you see the sun rise again on another sleepless night and a bed that is wet with your tears and sweat, as you have wrestled with GOD to meet HIM and to be able to come through changed, because GOD said one day, “Go down to the desert.”
GOD chooses HIS witnesses, and then trains them in the desert. GOD finds HIS men and HIS women in those deserts of disappointments, when your character has been maligned and people have said unkind words and unjust things about you. You cannot see how a righteous GOD would hold HIS peace when you’ve been mistreated, but HE said, “I’m calling you now for your desert experience.” You have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed until there isn’t another prayer to be prayed, and even your prayer life has become a desert. Your heart aches so much that all you can do is sit in church and cry. You can’t find GOD in the song. You can’t find GOD in the dance. You can’t find GOD in the worship. It has all dried up. You’ve done the best that you know how. You’ve paid your tithes and you have believed the WORD of GOD. You look at the balance in your bankbook and your liabilities are more than your income. You’ve preached the WORD to people and tried to be charitable to them. You’ve gone out of your way to show kindness, and the only thing that has been reciprocated has been hard and harsh words. You are in the desert place. But that’s when GOD comes, and HE burns out of your soul all the things that would be detrimental to you. The Angel of the LORD (the LORD Himself) comes and speaks to you out of the burning bush and says, “You can go now. You have the words of eternal life for MY people. You have a word of hope, a word of deliverance.” It is then that you begin to be eternally thankful to GOD for dealing with you, and you build an altar there in the desert to HIM. You’ll never, ever forget that place where you and GOD met face to face. You’ll find what it’s like to be led completely and totally by God’s SPIRIT, and the Living Waters that you have found will turn that desert into a fruitful garden. All this just for being obedient to GOD in that desert place.
GOD is saying, “I want to visit MY people. The cry of humanity is come up before ME and I don’t have a man to send. I will not send a prophet that has not been prepared. I will not send a preacher that the SPIRIT does not lead. I cannot send a man to preach repentance until that man has found repentance himself. I cannot use a man that has not been to the backside of the desert.”
Then you can say, “GOD, now I understand that everything is as it is. I understand now why you’ve let these things happen and you didn’t send any rain into the desert place of loneliness, despair, rejection, privation, and misunderstanding, for it was YOU that brought me there.”
You didn’t understand at first; you said, “Why, what have I done? Where have I failed GOD? Why hasn’t GOD opened up the door? Why am I in this situation?” You are there because GOD is preparing a man or a woman to take a message of salvation, love, unfailing mercy and grace to humanity. GOD will sustain you and you’re going to embrace this desert experience. And you are going to thank GOD for it. The sweetest hour that you’re ever going to know is when GOD comes down in that desert place, and right before you, is that burning bush in that lonely, solitary place. When you’re homesick and weary, then suddenly the Angel of GOD appears and you start to thank GOD for this lonely windswept mountain. Then GOD will lead you in HIS SPIRIT to touch the hearts of men and women with HIS mighty, supernatural deliverance.
Get started now by saying this prayer to GOD:
My LORD and my GOD, have mercy upon my soul, a sinner. 1 I believe that JESUS CHRIST is the SON of the living GOD. 2 I believe that HE died on the cross and shed HIS precious blood for the forgiveness of all my former sins. 3 I believe that GOD raised JESUS from the dead by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT 4 and that HE sits on the right hand of GOD at this moment, hearing my confession of sin and this prayer. 5 I open up the door of my heart, and I invite YOU into my heart, LORD JESUS. 6 Wash all of my filthy sins away in the precious blood that YOU shed in my place on the cross at Calvary. 7 YOU will not turn me away, LORD JESUS; YOU will forgive my sins and save my soul. I know because YOUR WORD, the Bible, says so. 8 YOUR WORD says that YOU will turn no one away, and that includes me. 9 Therefore, I know that YOU have heard me, and I know that YOU have answered me, and I know that I am saved. 10 And I thank YOU, LORD JESUS, for saving my soul, and I will show my thankfulness by doing as YOU command and sin no more.11
You've just completed the first step in a series of five steps which are necessary to receive salvation. Your second step is to deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow JESUS for the purpose of mortifying your flesh, that is, for putting to death your own will, your soulful self, and the world with all of its lusts. All these must be baptized into the death of CHRIST.
Step three is your resurrection from the satanic life of Adam unto the sinless life of CHRIST. Step four is your ascension into a position of authority to reign for God with Christ on earth, and the fifth step is to reign for GOD in CHRIST on earth to the end for the purpose of bringing about the kingdom of Heaven on earth. You must learn the WORD of GOD, submit yourselves one to another, and do what the WORD says so that the church and the world may see evidence of your submission to GOD’S WORD, HIS order, and HIS authority in and by you.
Praise the LORD. May GOD bless and reward you abundantly.
Yours in the wonderful name of JESUS,
Pastor Tony Alamo
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Desert Warriors footnotes:
29. Matt. 5:10-12, 10:16-18, 21-28, 20:18-19, 23:23-39, 24:8-10, 26:1-4, 47-54, 57-68, Luke 21:12-19, John 15:18-19, 16:1-2, Acts 6:7-15, 7:51-60, Rom. 8:35-37, 1 Cor. 4:9-13, 2 Cor. 4:8-12, 11:23-26, Gal. 4:28-29, Heb. 11:32-38, James 5:6, 1 John 3:1, 13, Rev. 2:10, 6:9-11, 7:13-17, 11:3-12 return
1. Psa. 51:5, Rom. 3:10-12, 23 return
2. Matt. 26:63-64, 27:54, Luke 1:30-33, John 9:35-37, Rom. 1:3-4 return
3. Acts 4:12, 20:28, Rom. 3:25, I John 1:7, Rev. 5:9 return
4. Psa. 16:9-10, Matt. 28:5-7, Mark 16:9, 12, 14, John 2:19, 21, 10:17-18, 11:25, Acts 2:24, 3:15, Rom. 8:11, I Cor. 15:3-7 return
5. Luke 22:69, Acts 2:25-36, Heb. 10:12-13 return
6. I Cor. 3:16, Rev. 3:20 return
7. Eph. 2:13-22, Heb. 9:22, 13:12, 20-21, I John 1:7, Rev. 1:5, 7:14 return
8. Matt. 26:28, Acts 2:21, 4:12, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14 return
9. Matt. 21:22, John 6:35, 37-40, Rom. 10:13 return
10. Heb. 11:6 return
11. John 5:14, 8:11, Rom. 6:4, I Cor. 15:10, Rev. 7:14, 22:14 return