Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters. Exodus 15:27
When God announced to Moses that He was about to deliver the children of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh and bring them into a wonderful land of their own, He chose to have that encounter by way of a burning bush that did not burn up — it was on fire but was not consumed by the fire.
Later, when Moses goes to see Pharaoh to relay the word of the Lord to him, there is, to put it mildly, a reluctance on Pharaoh’s part to let the Israelites go. Before it is over, there will be ten plagues brought on Egypt by the Lord. These plagues affect the water, the fields, the animals, the atmosphere and finally, the firstborn!
Even after they begin their journey to the Promised Land, Pharaoh sends his army after them and once again, the Lord supersedes the natural laws of His creation and parts the waters of the Red Sea for Israel, only to close the waters upon Pharaoh’s army and drown them all! All of this brings us to a question that could easily present itself; if God is in charge of nature and can set aside the normal “rules”, why did His children even have to go through the desert in the first place?
Perhaps sometimes you wonder why things can’t just be a little easier. Sure, God’s promises of the future are fantastic. Just as the children of Israel had the details of the land God had promised them, so you have the Word of God to reveal His wonderful plan for your eternal home in heaven. But when the children of Israel looked around them as they began their journey, all they could see was a barren desert. They found themselves wandering in a desolate wilderness and eventually, for many of them, dying in that wilderness.
There is, to be sure, plenty of desolation in this world due to the curse of sin. One day even heaven and earth will be redeemed and there will be new heavens and a new earth, but until that time, your journey will, to some degree mirror that of God’s children in the desert. The good news is that, even though you have to pass through this wilderness to get to the Land of Promise, the Lord does not leave you to make the journey alone — He will never leave you or forsake you.
Then, there is the added blessing of Elim along the way. Just when you feel as if you can not take another step, the Lord provides for you a place in the desert; a place of refuge and refreshment and restoration. It doesn’t even make sense that something so beautiful could be found in the midst of so much desolation, but that is just another reminder that God is bigger than any circumstance you face and He knows what you need to be able to press on.
When life feels like a never-ending desert, take time in God’s presence and He will renew your strength, pick you up and put you back in the race. You can face another day in the desert of life, for you know God is with you to lead you every step of the way. Not the easy way by any means, but The Way. And along the way, when you need it, a place in the desert!
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