A Place For Elim
Mr. E R. Anderson of Hartford, Connecticut. has been a frequent past contributor to “Food for the Flock.” This present article has been reprinted from the May 1950 issue of “Our Hope” magazine.
From the bitterness of Marah to the blessedness of Elim was but a morning’s march for the children of Israel, during the course of the grand journeying out of Egypt into Canaan. And it is as a note of relief that we leaf the record and come upon the word: “And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they encamped there by the waters” (Ex. 15:27). Israel of old deeply needed the enduement of Elim; and so does the Israel of God in this day of grace. We may indeed be quite thankful that such a word as this need not be reserved merely as an Old Testament memento, nor dusted away into some dispensational cubbyhole. For us there is yet the fountain and the palms; only it is even more blessed to us, as we bask in the blessedness of the full-orbed revelation of God in Christ. Not only twelve wells of water, not only threescore and ten palm trees, but rather, thousands of wells and thousands of palms; for in our blessed Lord there is overflowing upon overflowing, and “exceedingly abundant above all” in grace divine. We encamp beneath the wonder and the sacredness of Calvary, and know the heavenly reality of the living waters from the glorious fountain-head.
This means a good deal for such a day as this! There is the goodness of grace for the soldiers of the Lord, who know all too well of the bitterness of the brackish pools of Marah. Some of these nauseous streams run through the heart of a good many seemingly sound churches, and there is much of bitterness in many a sanctuary. There are many who started out with “Jesus only,” who have ended up with, “Us only”; blessing has long been blotted out of the picture by sectarian bitterness. Many Christian soldiers are great fighters — on the wrong battlefield, and have good guns trained in the opposite direction! Instead of bowing before the Lord first, and then striking out to blast at the world, they have come to blast each other and bow before themselves, leaving the world to stagger along in its ruin and riot. We are weary of these warped warriors and dismayed by the decay which has set in.
Bitterness hurts and burns deep, because there can be no valid reason for its existence. The lateness of the hour and the lost condition of the world ought surely to indicate the proper battlefield and the right angle of the weapon. There should be fellowship rather than feuding, and a pulling together rather than a pulling apart. There are plenty of Marahs out there in the world, without our having to be disconcerted and dismayed by the finding of them in the promised land.
Well, fellow soldiers, the Lord knows all about that. That blessed One had His Marah in the midst of His own, and for Him, in the fast approach of Calvary agony, there was the deep and almost incredible bitterness of the kiss of Judas. What bitterness that must have been to Him!
There is the morning’s march from Marah to Elim, and the Lord would have us take it. How thankful that it is not further, or that Elim must await the long, tedious travel! For our personal Elim is always nearer than we would dare to think; and that nearness is always realized and made precious in the sacredcness of bent-knee-time, alone with the Lord.
If you turn that word “Elim” around, you will spell the word, “mile.” Many Christian workers often feel that, with regard to certain enterprises and witness, they have indeed come to the last mile. The heedlessness of the world, and the heartlessness of those in the world, coupled with the seeming hardness of many professing Christians, almost drives the worker to the wall. Many a saint has lifted tear-stained eyes to the heavens, crying: “Lord, the journey is almost too much!” Well perhaps it is — almost. We live in the last days of a fast dying age, with everything about us stained with Christlessness, animosity to the Gospel, and devoid of all that is pure, holy, and undefiled. But, beloved, there it is. Mile — Elim; the one converts to the other. For weariness there is water and for pain there are palms. Best of all, there is the living Lord Himself, the precious fountain of living waters.
Elim! Elim! Though the way be long,
Unmurmuring I shall journey and lift my heart in song;
And Elim! Elim! all my song shall tell
Of rest beneath the palm trees and joy beside the well.