From The Wilderness
Who said life has to always be difficult? God seems to sprinkle our problems with Heavenly surprises of joy. There really is an oasis up ahead – a place with flowing streams and palm trees waiting for you on your journey if you’ll just keep going!
We all too often measure our life by our weaknesses instead of his breakthroughs, by our difficult day instead of a glorious decade, or by the momentary mess instead of the amazing miracle of grace. Soon our measurements will change. We will be absorbed by the gaze of the fiery Lover who comes to consume us into the living flames. Then we’ll measure our life by eternity’s treasures and love’s conquest.
In Exodus 5:1, God made it clear that the reason he wanted to take his people into the wilderness was so that they could feast with him. He said, “Release my people, so that they may feast with me in the wilderness!” That’s right, a feast is waiting in your wilderness.
This verse is astounding, for it teaches us that what we call a barren desert, God calls a place to hold a feast. Do you feel like you are locked into a desolate place with difficulty surrounding you? Even there, a feast awaits. God has the power to turn the wilderness into an oasis.
God is never embarrassed to start over. He never fails, but he will take our failures, reverse them, and bring us into ultimate victory. Our life pathway may lead through dark valleys, but that is only so we can arrive at the oasis of bliss waiting ahead.
An Oasis Named Elim
So once again, God was starting over with his people, and he would accomplish his divine purpose through their experience in the wilderness. After their bitter experience at Marah and the amazing miracle of the tree, Israel moved on under the cloud to Elim. What a pleasant place compared to Marah! Only seven miles from Marah, twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees were waiting to refresh their hearts. Elim was a place of renewal and refreshing:
Then they came to an oasis named Elim. It was a place of twelve springs and seventy palm trees. So at Elim they made their camp beside the springs. (Exodus 15:27)
What purpose could the Holy Spirit have for numbering the palm trees and the springs? Everything in the scriptures has significance. The number seventy is very important. It was the number of Jacob’s family that went down into Egypt. Seventy souls were moved from the Promised Land during a time of famine and settled in Goshen, (Genesis 46). Seventy is the number that represents God’s people carrying out his purposes. Jesus called twelve apostles to himself and later sent out seventy disciples to preach the message of the Kingdom. Twelve is the Biblical number for the people of God: twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles of Jesus.
For every tribe there was a spring. For every disciple there was a palm at Elim. Seventy palms and twelve springs is a symbolic promise to you and I that we will carry out God’s purpose. He will not lead us into a wilderness without leading us out refreshed and victorious! We will be stronger than the day we went in! These numbers, twelve and seventy, symbolically teach us that our covenant with God is still on – even in the desert.
Twelve is also the number of the months of the year. Seventy years is the minimum length of life the Lord has promised us in Psalm 90:10. At Elim’s oasis, there was a spring for every month and a palm tree for every year. This tells us God wants us to be fruitful all the days of our lives, in our youth and in our old age. God has as many palms as he has years for you. The people under the cloud flourished like palm trees: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,” (Psalm 92:12).
A place of rest and refreshment is to be yours each month and each year of your life! The God of covenant had led them to Elim as a sign that he would fulfill his promises and give them strength for the journey.
Under the Swaying Palms
Elim is a plural noun in Hebrew that means, “the mighty ones,” or, “the strong ones.” At Elim there were seventy tall, strong palm trees that represented victory and twelve refreshing pools to renew the Hebrews’ strength. Elim was a picture of God’s people walking in resurrection power. A Marah experience of bitterness will bring us to an Elim encounter of refreshment. Under the swaying palms, we become God’s mighty ones, his strong ones who have borrowed their strength from him.
The trees grew upward, and the spring flowed outward. Resurrection life flows upward, and the living presence of Christ flows outward from inside of us. Connected to his life and as we allow “the tree” to turn our bitterness into sweetness, miracles will manifest. Elim is God’s garden, his plantation of pleasure. Both Eden and Elim are pictures of what God longs to bring forth in the heart of his people. Ultimately, God will make us his New Jerusalem bride. Human and divine mingle together at Elim and the New Jerusalem. The twelve springs are for the mingling of human and divine. They signify God’s life flowing as a living spring into his chosen people and establishing them for his eternal purpose.
The twelve apostles were like twelve springs that watered the Earth. God flowed from their lives into the people of the world. All who believe in Christ will likewise become “walking wells of life” to the nations of the Earth. Christ in you is the supply of water and the source of refreshing while in your wilderness. The springs of Elim flow through you as the oasis of his love. Inside of you is a bubbling fountain, a well springing up with everlasting life. Your Friend in the desert says, “Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him!” These streams of John 7:38 are the springs of Exodus 15. God’s people, like the Hebrews at Elim, are bubbling with life as if they were springs of water.
Jesus is that never-failing stream when every other brook dries up. We are the desert that blossoms when Christ overflows!
The Lord will always show you where to go and what to do, filling you with refreshment when you are dry, and in a difficult place. He will continually restore strength to you. You will flourish like a well-watered garden, and be like an ever-flowing, trustworthy spring of blessing. (Isaiah 58:11)
This oasis in the desert was only seven miles away from the bitter undrinkable water! Could they not trust the Lord for another seven miles? That would be about a day’s journey for those in the desert. Can you make it just one more day? Up ahead and around the bend is a pleasant pool of refreshing where the gushing springs make the palm trees flourish. Jesus is our fountain of living water, (Jeremiah 2:13). He is worth the wait. He is worth the journey.
“They made their camp beside the springs,” (Exodus 15:27). The camp of the Hebrews was a military encampment. They had been formed into an army. When God refreshes our hearts, it is so that we will be prepared for battle. An oasis becomes our school – the place of preparation for what lies ahead. Soon, they would wage war as an army, but for the moment they needed to be refreshed.
How wonderful it is when the churches of a region camp at Elim, near the water, where their sons turn into soldiers. Thirsting ones become triumphant ones. So here’s the plan: What do you say we go and camp at Elim until we overflow? Sounds good to me!
New grace for a new day is being poured out upon you. A new awakening to my purpose for your life and the provision for this day. Have you not asked me for your family? Have you not asked me for your needs? I will never neglect my own; I will provide all that you have asked for. My name is Endless Love, and I will not forget the covenant we made when you first came to me. It is the enemy of your soul that would come to accuse me in your heart, saying I have forgotten you and your requests. But I remind you, my cherished one, that I can never forget. I carry the marks of the nails every day. This very day a new grace to enter into my faithfulness is being offered to you. Rest in that grace and watch me work.