Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Temple Oasis

In my last post I spoke of pomegranates as the decor of the tabernacle in Moses' day.  I find it peculiar that the Temple Solomon built was decorated, not so much with pomegranates, but palm trees.  Okay, so I ask myself again, "Why palm trees?" When I think of palm trees my thoughts take me back immediately to a single verse of the Old Testament.

"After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the Oasis of Elim, 
where they found 12 springs and 70 palm trees.  
They camped there beside the water."  (Exodus 15:27)

To get the full effect of this verse, you have to go back to events which transpire prior to this. God had just delivered Israel through the Red Sea in a great deliverance from Egypt.  Now they have traveled three days into the desert in dire need of water.  They have traveled just far enough to reach the point of no return.  To travel back to the Red Sea would result in certain death.

I'm reminded of the desert I often find after God works a great victory in my life. Valleys abound where there are mountain tops.  He waits until I come to the end of myself--then comes to my rescue, that I might know Him in my experience, not just in my head and heart.

But so often in the desert I turn to the wrong things to satiate my thirst resulting in disillusionment.  The sons of Jacob spot water ahead and run to the pool!  I can picture it now.  Hoards of people, throwing their cloaks aside and sprinting to the water, only to find it bitter. . . not fit to drink.  What a disappointment!  And how disappointing are those things to which I so eagerly run to satisfy my thirst for God . . . movies, sleep, activity, food. . . only to find my problems remain the same.  Moses threw a stick of wood into the water and it turned sweet, good.  I'm reminded of the cross of Jesus, the wood, which makes my life sweet and quenches my thirst.

This is where our verse comes in.

God then leads Israel to an oasis, so much better than Marah, for it has shade! 70 palm trees, and 12 springs of water.  More details.  70 palm trees. Hmmm, there were 70 people in Jacob's family when they moved to Egypt during the famine and 12 family heads, the sons of Jacob.  I wonder if God was not reminding them that He was faithful.  "See?"  He might have been saying, "I brought you to Egypt and sheltered you there, and 400 years later I'm bringing you back to your homeland.  Will I not provide for you?"

Likewise, as His people, God provides for us, beyond what we could ever ask or think!  Palm trees on the Temple remind me of this story and God's over the top provision for His people.  The sacrifice of His Son provides what we need for our salvation, but He invites us to so much more!  Yes, God saves the people at Marah by making the water sweet with the wood, but deeper communion awaits at the oasis of Elim.  Our God is not small.  He does not provide for us out of His meager supply.  Salvation first.  Then rest.  Shade. Springs.  Continual blessing.

As my life is a temple of the Holy Spirit, God causes springs of living water to flow from within.  (John 4:14)  He invites me to rest, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (Heb. 4:9-11)  And shade from the trials of the day in the communion of His presence.  An oasis of abundant provision.

I love, love the Scriptures.  How they encourage my heart.  Even more so, I love, love my Savior who makes Himself known to me through His Word by the Spirit.  I wonder what my heart, this temple, would be decorated with today?  Praises?  And I wonder what that would look like in a tangible way? Only God knows.  Its our secret.  In heaven I will receive a name only God and I know. (Rev. 2:17) Imagine that!  All those people in heaven and God would be personal with me, with you, each in a unique way all our own. That's my God I'm talkin' about!  Whew!  My husband often says regarding the gospel, "We have the cookie."  My, my, do we ever!

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