"Between Elim and Sinai."

A word for Christians.

Christian Friend vol. 14, 1887, p. 51.

It was "between Elim and Sinai" that murmurings sprung up (Exodus 16:12), and the place was called the "wilderness of Sin." Let us note it well, for herein is an excellent lesson for us. God had brought them out of Egypt, and delivered them for ever from the cruelty of Pharaoh and the lash of his task-masters. They had crossed the Red Sea, and seen all their enemies "dead on the sea shore." They had sung with Moses, "I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea." And now in the wilderness, alone with God, in a place where there are no supplies and no path, they find Him not only enough to sweeten all Marah's bitter waters, but to lead them also to Elim, where He had ready for them "twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees," and where He had arranged their first resting-place. He would have us stop in the wilderness journey, to feast upon the tender provision of His hand for us, and to drink of these wells. And who had dug these wells? Did you ever think? And thus far we too have gone; for we know what all these things meant which "happened unto them for types,'' and "they are written for our admonition." But what follows?

Nothing but finding fault with God, that He should ever have brought them into such a place - a murmuring for bread. And is it an unknown thing for Christians to find fault with God? Think, has it never been your own case and mine? Have we always said that our wilderness circumstances are entirely satisfactory to us? Health, business, the daily occupation which He has given us - all accepted from His hand without a single murmur? And what are our wilderness circumstances but, first and most blessed of all, God with us, and going before us, and the whole of the wilderness not ours, but His responsibility, who has in grace taken us up? And is this alone not sufficient to hush every murmur? But, remember, there is more. We can also trace His hand feeding and nourishing us every day, and learn that He brings to us the "butter out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock," if He causes us to prove the rocks of the wilderness. The grand lesson taught us in the wilderness with God is "to be content." Let us read the passages Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6-9; Eph. 5:20, and honestly admit either that they do, or that they do not, find their simple answer and illustration in our walk and ways. Are we content?

And why has the Spirit of God so carefully written down the name of the locality where the murmuring began? There is a lesson also in this. That it happened "between Elim and Sinai" has a solemn voice in it for us, and no word of God has been written in vain. Elim was God's provision for them. It showed them what He could do, a specimen of what He would do for them, until He brought them unto Himself into "a land flowing with milk and honey." And Sinai was the place where they undertook to do the best they could for themselves - where they gave up the grace that was treasured up in God for them all along ("My grace is sufficient for thee") and put themselves under law.

May we ponder the lesson. May we learn that discontent and murmuring will presently land us in Sinai - take us out of the hands of God, and lead us to do the best we can for ourselves. How many a Christian is, in the experience of his soul, "between Elim and Sinai," and (or there actually) doing the best he can in this wilderness for himself, because God has not satisfied him! But it cuts him off from communion with God. Complaining to God about His doings is not intercourse with Him. Sinai is beset with "blackness, and darkness, and tempest," and no voice of communion with God reaches the soul from thence. (Heb. 12:18-19.)

And now how does God answer the murmurers? And how does He answer us if in their path? Read the whole of Exodus 16 for the answer. For forty years (the whole time of their wanderings in the wilderness) He gave them "manna." He puts CHRIST before us the whole time of our wilderness journey - the always humbled, dependent, obedient One - the only One who accepted everything in the wilderness path as from God His Father, and without a single murmur; for the manna is Christ in humiliation, seen down here as a dependent Man. That is how God meets your murmuring and mine.

What cling we to, and what covet we in this world, which Christ (God's perfect pattern for us) would have nothing to do with if He were here? How do you meet the exercises in your wilderness path? These are simple questions, but they search us out. Are we feeding daily on the manna - Christ, the only perfect One? He said (and are we saying it?) that His delight was in "the saints, the excellent of the earth;" and though a pilgrim He was no murmurer in the wilderness. "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." (Psalm 16.) When we arrive "between Elim and Sinai" we shall find the "Manna" there waiting for us. H. C. Anstey.

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If I am looking for the coming of Christ, I do not stop to look at my shadow behind, but up to the Lord's return. My only object then is to reach the goal, and, receiving a glorified body, to be with Him for ever.