TD Jakes - Dancing in the Desert
I am attracted to the centerpiece of which I intend to add many accoutrements, but I am attracted to the fact that Miriam, number one, brought her tambourine to the desert, and that she would, at this particular moment, beat her tambourine, and all of the women would begin to dance. Josephus the historian says that bodies were littered all up against the banks of the Red Sea, coming up out of the water dead, so that when the women started dancing, they were dancing on the dead. Oh, hallelujah! Who would ever thought that God would deliver you so well that you would dance on what was dancing on top of you?
And I know it sounds foolish, but that's why I'm telling you to dance in the desert. That's why I'm telling you to dance in the desert, because while you're dancing, your devils are dying. While you're dancing, your diseases are dying. While you're dancing, your debt is dying. While you're dancing, your enemies are dying. And when Miriam grabbed her tambourine, she did not just do it out of joy, she did it out of warfare. Because when you praise God, he is magnified. And the more you praise him, the more he'll work for you. So when you see God bringing you out, don't just stand there and look at him, but grab you a tambourine and start dancin' in your desert. If you praise him, if you praise him, if you praise him in your house, if you praise him in your living room, if you...
And there they were, dancing in the desert. Little did they know that when these women started praising God, they would set off a catastrophic series of events with water. Remember when God told the woman, "If you believe on me as the Scriptures have said, out of your belly shall flow rivers of water"? Some things aren't gonna happen till you praise him. Some things aren't gonna happen till you speak up. Some things aren't gonna happen till you grab your tambourine in the middle of your desert and say, "I refuse to be depressed, and I refuse to cry, and I refuse to walk around this house lookin' all sad. I'm gonna grab my tambourine, and devil, I'm gonna dance on top of your head. I'm gonna dance".
Give me some old time Holy Ghost Pentecost, I'm gonna. I'm gonna. I'm gonna. I'm gonna. Dance. Dance. Dance on him. Dance on him. Dance on him. Dance on him. Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance. And they all went down. Not one of them escaped. The death count was 100%. Not one man lived to tell what happened. Because when God says, "I will destroy your enemy", he means, "I will totally annihilate your enemy". And I don't care how big he is, God says, "I will bring him down". And the Red Sea closed in, but the Red Sea closed in not just to destroy Pharaoh. It also closed in so that none of the lesser troops could follow the pursuit. It's point number two. Point number three, it closed in so that when the children of Israel got into the middle of the desert, they could not go back.
Hey! Tell your neighbor, "I can't go back. I'm too far in. I can't go back". This God does to teach us about separation. So as the text moves along, the water is still flowing out of this dance. For the Bible says that they were three days into the wilderness. And they were three days into the wilderness, they came to a place of water. But when they got down to drink, the water was bitter. Bitter does not just mean that it tasted bad, it was dangerous to drink. And the people cried out. Whenever the people cry out, the leader is always miserable. The people cried out against Moses, "We have nothing to drink". And the only thing you can do as a leader is when the people cry out to you.
Moses turned around and God said, "We have". All you can do is echo. The job of the minister is to echo the voice of God to the people and echo the voice of the people to God. And so Moses is echoing to God what the people said, like he echoes to the people what God has said. Because Moses stands between the people and God. He tells them what God says, he tells God what they said. The people have nothing to drink. They asked God for water and he answered with a tree.
I want to talk to the people who prayed for something and the answer doesn't look like the question. You got down on your knees and you prayed for water, and he answered with a tree. This might be the most important moment in all of the Scriptures because this is a moment of sanctification. This is the moment we went from separation to sanctification. This is the moment that not only is God trying to answer their craving, he is letting us get a peek-a-boo, a glimpse, at Jesus. Just a glimpse. It's just a glimpse.
See, you remember what Jesus told the woman at the well? "If you drink of the water that I have, you will never thirst again". He did a water commercial for the Samaritan woman. He did a taste test. He said, "If you keep drinking what you drinking, you're gonna always come back. There's something wrong with your water. But if you drink of the water that I have, you will never thirst again". They prayed for water. She said, "Give me this water that I thirst not". They prayed for water and God answered with the tree. The tree is a type of Calvary. The tree is the rugged cross. The tree is a prophecy of the only thing that God had that would turn the bitter waters of your life sweet.
God told Moses, "I know the problem is the water, but the answer is the tree". Good God Almighty! Your problem may look like water, but your answer is the tree. It is a foreshadowing of the cross. It doesn't look like it has anything to do with the problem, but God told Moses to throw a tree at the water. Throw a tree at it. Touch your neighbor and say, "Throw a tree at it". Throw a tree at it. Elbow 'em and tell them, "Throw a tree at it". Throw a tree at it. I know you need money, but throw a tree at it. I know you're praying about water, but throw a tree at it. Throw a tree. So they threw a tree into the bitter waters of Mara and the water turned sweet. The water that was bitter turned sweet by the inclusion of the tree. He'll make the darkness light before you. Whatever's wrong, he'll make it right.
All of this is in this text right here. The same way that Jesus took the water and turned it into wine, they threw a tree into the bitter water and turned it into sweet. The answer is the tree. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, has a wondrous attraction for me. And I'll cherish the old rugged cross because, you see, the cross turned my bitter waters sweet. If you're watching me right now, I don't care if you're bitter because of drugs, bitter because of crack, bitter because of cocaine, bitter because of abuse, bitter because of molestation, bitter because you're stripping on a pole. I don't care what the bitterness is in your life, the tree will turn it sweet. This tree is Calvary. They threw a tree in the water and it changed.
When they got to Elim, they came into a prepared blessing. Somebody had been there before. I know somebody had been there before. I can prove to you that somebody had been there before because there were 12 wells in Elim. There were 12 wells in Elim. Now, wells are not natural experiences. It's not a lake. It's not a pond. It's a well. Somebody had to dug it, somebody had to dig it. But God had somebody dig it so that when they got there, the well would already be there. I want to tell you that God will give you houses that you didn't build and vineyards that you didn't grow; that somebody's digging right now a well so that when you get to the place, the water will already be made and God will sustain you.
Now, when they threw the tree in the water, they drank, but they didn't pitch their tents there. But when they got to the 12 wells at Elim, the Bible said they stayed there a while. They pitched their tents there a while. I prophesy God is going to give somebody sustainability. Not a one moment, one-off experience, not a short time experience for you to look back on with wondrous attraction and always refer to the good old days that used to be, God is gonna give you a sustainable blessing. There were exactly 12 wells of water. And get this, my brothers and sisters. There were 40 palm trees. This sounds like a resort. There are 40 palm trees. At least 40. At least 40. It might've been 60. Sixty.
Wait, you don't understand. In the desert, now the other tree went in the water, but this one grew up out of the desert. And so we keep seeing trees. We keep seeing trees and we keep seeing water. And God is teaching us something about trees and water. And out of the desert grows these palm trees for shade. Do you need shade? Do you need shade? Have you been walking through the scorched, dry place of a pandemic, barely making ends meet, watchin' the news every night, stressed out and at your wit's end? Do you need shade? They sat under the palm tree and there they rested in the desert. I prophesy rest over your life. I prophesy God is going to bring you, God is going to bring you into a place of rest.
Some shade tree is waiting for you to lay down under it, and the well has already been dug. You have always dug your way out of everything the enemy ever set against you, but not this time. God said, "I am going to bring you into another man's labor. You're gotta drink from a well you didn't dig and I am going to give you shade from how much it cost you to be healed. I am going to bring you into rest". And you say, "How do I get to that rest"? You will find that place of rest when you learn how to dance in the desert.
As long as you murmur and complain, you'll never find your palm trees. But the moment you decide, "I'm going to find me a tambourine, and I am going to beat that thing to the glory of God, and I'm going to worship God in the middle of my desert", I hear the sound of the bells ringing, of rejoicing coming into your house. I hear the sound of rejoicing coming into your desert. I hear the sound of rejoicing coming into your hospital room. I hear the sound of rejoicing coming into your marriage. I hear the sound of rejoicing coming into your business. I hear the sound of a relentless voice of praise breaking out. "Sing, thou barren woman, thou that didst not conceive".
Oh, start rejoicing right now. I know you don't see it, but there's gonna be a rejoicing coming in your life and God is going to bring you into a resort, a time of rest, a time of peace, a time of provision, and most of all, a place of sustainability. And you'll be able to pitch your tent there and sit down and rest a while because he has provided for you. I want to pray for you right now. You're in a desert. Be honest, we all are.
2020 has been a dry place. It has been a place of uncertainty, not quite into our promised land, and hearing the reminders of our past behind us. This has been a year that we as a people, particularly people of color, have been reminded of our bondage like never before. We have heard the sound of Pharaoh chasing us yet again. Oh! We've been reminded that the right to vote could be lost. We've been reminded that we could still be hunted and shot down and killed. We've been reminded that we could still be destroyed, and how much we own and how smart we are has nothing to do with it.
We have been this text, but God says, "I'm going to bring you into a place of sustainability. I'm gonna bring you away from your fear, and I'm going to fight off your enemies, and I am going to give you rest". And what we need to do right now is throw a party, and dance in the middle of the desert, and confuse the enemy. Because I want you to know in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, somebody's building wells for you. And you're gonna come into a place of abundance, because change is in the atmosphere. And all the people of the earth ought to rejoice, because the only person who ought to be mad is the devil.
If you ain't drowning in the Red Sea, you oughtta rejoice, because God is breaking the back of oppression and moving away the curse of the memory of fear so that the slaves would not have to spend the rest of their lives on the run. That's why Miriam danced. It wasn't just that Pharaoh was dead. The threat of him coming up again was destroyed. God says, "I will wipe out the memory of what horrified you. I got wells waiting on you and palm trees above your head. And if you got the faith to stand right in the desert and dance right now, I got the power to bring you into a place of sustainability. I got the power to give you equity. I got the power to break the yoke of your yesterday".
And you will be many things, but you will never be that again. You will go through many tests, but you will never go back to that again. You will have much opposition, but you will never go back to bein' Pharaoh's boy ever again. That's why she danced. She danced because women are mamas. She danced because she knew her sons would not be born in captivity. She danced because she knew her nieces and nephews would not have to make bricks and change beds. She danced over the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.
And so I'm calling for women everywhere to lead us into the dance, and lead us into the worship, and lead us into the prayer that breaks the curse, that tells hell, "You can't have another generation. Not another generation. You cannot have my daughter. You cannot have my son. You cannot have my grandchildren. You cannot have my great grandchildren". I'm calling on the women to dance in the desert until yokes are broken, and dance in the halls of Congress, and dance all over the White House, and dance all over DC, and dance all over the hospital ward, and dance in the emergency room. And tell hell, "You can't have another generation"!