They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.
I’m aware that the specific name of ‘Sin’ in reference to this specific geographic location is not the same word that we translate as ‘sin’ in our English language, but the scene here is too richly symbolic to interpret by the letter alone. So rise higher with me today, friend. Look down on this word as if from a mountain. Read it from a bird’s-eye view. See it as a depiction of your life of faith. Because we too are making a pilgrimage through the wilderness of sin, through the broken, collapsed space between Eden and Heaven, through the rocky terrain of temptation, and the sanctifying journey is a perilous one.
Some fall headlong and get stranded on the rocks. Some stumble for a time and regain their footing years later. Some stand firm through thick and thin, but get bruised and cut and beaten down by the miles. No matter: the footprints of our incarnate Lord are ever before us! In the rocks below, in the deep, dark caverns, up the winding cliffs, all the way into of depths of hell itself! And as David writes, “though we stumble, we do not fall headlong, for the LORD upholds us in His hand!”
Marvel at that, friend. Even the desolate times and places are in the palm of God’s hand. Which is why we really shouldn’t think of this present life in a fallen world as a wilderness of sin, but as a wilderness of grace. Because grace gets us back on our feet. Grace bids us to keep going, keep striving, keep pressing on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, keep taking the next step through death’s valleys, keep holding fast to the faithful Word even when the world rejects it, keep trusting the Father’s heart even when the sight that meets our eyes around the next bend isn’t an oasis of palm trees and gushing streams and lions laying down with lambs, but ostracism and alienation and an unquenchable yearning for home.