Meaning, as a Rule
Exodus 15:25b & 27
There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them. …Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.
Philosophers and sages from every tribe, tongue, and nation have tried to uncover the meaning of life, dancing around the ruins of Eden as it were, searching for the gated entrance, hoping their volumes of words and theories will metamorphosis into keys, but not finding the heart of the Garden: always approaching the question from the outside looking in, rather than from the inside looking out. And it’s always been so simple.
The meaning of life always begins with a rule. For Adam and Eve, God made a rule not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And He didn’t make that rule to tease them for the whole of their lives, but to give them the most powerful, godlike agency of all: the power to choose. And with that moral agency, they could either choose to walk with God throughout their lives, or they could choose to break the rule and walk alone through life. And the same is true for Moses and this mixed multitude as they travel to the Promised Land here in Exodus 15. God gives them a rule too, just as He gave Adam and Eve. And He places them in this garden of Elim, leading them beside still waters, drawing them here to this oasis in the middle of a wilderness, to the meaning of life itself, to the garden of choosing, and it’s always been the same picture, hasn’t it? Choose God or choose the devil. Rest in the palm of divine care or wander in the wilderness of divine disapproval.
Friend, by passing the tests that face us today, by enduring the various temptations that come our way, by taking our Savior’s hand rather than the poisoned fruit, we’ll find ourselves camped out beside pools of clear water too, nestled in the shade of palm trees, and drinking with our Good Shepherd from cups overflowing, even in a barren wilderness that surrounds us.