Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
After the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud led them to Marah, and then to Elim. If we study a map, we shall see that they did not journey in a way that was according to the human concept, but in a way that was according to the divine concept. We have pointed out that when the children of Israel made their exodus from Egypt, God did not lead them through the way of the land of the Philistines (13:17). Instead, He “led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea” (13:18). God deliberately led them to the south so that they could be baptized in the Red Sea, the baptistry He had prepared for them in His creation. Having crossed the Red Sea, they did not journey northward to the land of Canaan. God led them southward to Marah.
Remember that it was God Himself in the pillar that led the people on their journey. He led them to take a way altogether different from that which is according to the natural concept. If we had been there, we probably would have said, “Moses, where are we going? Are we on our way to the good land, or to Arabia?” To such questions, Moses might have replied, “I do not choose the way we take. The pillar is guiding us. Just three days ago, this pillar protected us from Pharaoh’s armies. Don’t you think we should trust in this pillar and follow its leading?” No doubt, the children of Israel expected to be led northward, to the good land; however, God led them southward, to Marah and to Elim. By this we see that God’s way is different from ours.
Israel’s experience at Elim is a picture of the experience of resurrection life. We all know that death ushers us into resurrection. However, our concept is that this experience of resurrection will be on a way that is upward, not on a way that leads downward. In our opinion, any way that leads downward is not in resurrection. Yes, in itself resurrection takes us upward, but its application requires us to take a way that leads in a downward direction. When we are in the heavenlies, we do not sense the need for resurrection. But when we are in a low situation, we become conscious of the need for resurrection life. When we are in death, even in a tomb, we need resurrection. For this reason, the experience of Elim is in a downward direction from Marah.
As we consider the spiritual significance of 15:27 according to our experience, we need to be reminded not to study the Word of God in a superficial way. We should study the Word according to the way of life, according to the way the Lord Jesus applied the Old Testament Scriptures in the Gospels. This way is deep. Although this account is very short, only one verse long, we need to take the time to study in a thorough way Israel’s experience at Elim. Then we shall begin to see the riches implied in this verse.
We have pointed out that instead of northward, the direct way to the land of Canaan, the children of Israel journeyed southward. No doubt, the good land was higher in elevation than the land of Egypt. But the way into this elevated land was downward, down to the south. This indicates that to reach a high destination we need to take a downward way.
Some readers of Exodus may think that the children of Israel journeyed southward because they did not have the faith to go directly into the land of Canaan. Although their lack of faith was a factor later, it was not the reason for their southward journey here. If they had not gone to the Red Sea, they could not have passed through the baptistry God had prepared for them. They had to pass through water in order to be saved from the tyranny of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The blood of the Passover lamb saved them from God’s judgment, but the water of the Red Sea saved them from the armies of Pharaoh. They were led to the Red Sea, not because they were weak in faith, but because they needed to be baptized. As we have pointed out, even after they had crossed the Red Sea, they did not immediately journey northward. Contrary to our expectation, the pillar of cloud led them downward from Shur to Marah. After their experience at Marah, the pillar continued to lead them downward to Elim.
Israel’s experience at Marah signifies the experience of the cross. After we have an experience of the cross, we may expect to go upward. However, we shall go downward once again, for the experience of resurrection is in a downward direction. If you go upward instead of downward, you will not experience resurrection. Some Christians think that God leads His people only upward, never downward. But according to the picture in Exodus, the pillar of cloud led the children of Israel downward from Marah to Elim.
I can testify that the journey from Marah to Elim corresponds to my spiritual experience. After I have experienced the crucified life, I often expected to be in an upward situation. But just the opposite has taken place many times. God led me downward, into a situation that was lower and even more difficult to bear. We should not be frightened by this. If we follow the pillar of cloud in a downward direction, we shall arrive at Elim, where there are twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees. This is the experience of resurrection which issues from the experience of the cross, the experience at Marah.
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