“And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.” —Exodus 15:27
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word there is an adverb meaning “in or at that place.” The idea is that when the word there is used, it is designating a specific place as in “stand there,” or “move over there.” In relation to our text, the word there speaks of Elim.
In this short verse, there is found a great truth that I hope will be a blessing to all who read this. Now let’s see what we can learn from it.
Elim means “trees” and was located between Marah and the wilderness of Shur, not far from the eastern side of the Red Sea. It could be called an oasis.
As you know, the Old Testament is full of types, symbols, and figures, and if you know that, great truths will be opened to you. This verse is full of typology that portrays to us a New Testament truth.
Twelve Wells Of Water
First, this phrase speaks of the 12 apostles who would be chosen by Christ upon which, in a sense, the new covenant would be built. The Scripture says, “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord: In whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22).
Second, the number 12 symbolizes the government of God: There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, the New Jerusalem is 12,000 furlongs square; its wall having 12 foundations on which are written the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb; and there are 12 gates with 12 angels standing at the 12 gates.
What this tells us is that the government of God is based on apostles and prophets— callings that continue today.
In Ephesians 4:11, we are given the fivefold ministry callings with apostles listed first and prophets second.
In the old covenant, the office of the prophet was the highest calling. In the new covenant, the apostle is placed at the top, for it is mainly through apostles that the Holy Spirit guides the church as it regards doctrine and direction.
Apostles are still being called today as the church and ministry must function according to Ephesians 4:11. The apostle is identified by His messages, a message that must be confirmed by the Word of God.
Many believers mistakenly believe that the original 12 apostles were the only ones of such kind, with Paul being the only one called of God outside of the original 12. That is scripturally incorrect.
In fact, some 23 apostles are recorded in the New Testament:
1. Simon Peter (Mat. 10:2)
2. Andrew (Mat. 10:2)
3. James the Son of Zebedee (Mat. 10:2)
4. John (Mat. 10:2)
5. Philip (Mat. 10:3)
6. Bartholomew (Mat. 10:3)
7. James the son of Alphaeus (Mat. 10:3)
8. Judas his brother (Lk. 6:16)
9. Matthew, son of Alphaeus (Mk. 2:14; Lk. 6:15)
10. Thomas (Mat. 10:3)
11. Simon Zelotes (Lk. 6:15)
12. Judas Iscariot (Mat. 10:4)
13. Matthias (Acts 1:26)
14. Barnabas (Acts 13:1-3, 14; 4:14; I Cor. 9:5-6)
15. Andronicus (Rom. 16:7)
16. Junia (Rom. 16:7)
17. Apollos (I Cor. 4:6-9)
18. James the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19; 2:6; James 1:1)
19. Silas (I Thess. 2:1, 6)
20. Titus (II Cor. 8:23)
21. Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25)
22. Paul (Gal. 1:1)
23. Jesus Christ (Heb. 3:1)
Prophets function in the capacity of foretelling and forthtelling. Foretelling has to do with prediction concerning present or future events, while forthtelling speaks of the proclamation of righteousness.
Seventy Palm Trees
In Exodus 15:27, the “threescore and ten (70) palm trees” are symbolic of ministry, which must be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Luke 10:1 states, “Appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come.”
The idea is that all ministry today must be based on the doctrine of those apostles and prophets who, under the Holy Spirit, laid a foundation that we are to continue to build upon today. The doctrine of the apostles and prophets can be summed up in one name—Jesus Christ. The foundation has been laid—we are not to try and build a new foundation; everything must be based on Jesus Christ.
The phrase “and they encamped there by the waters” speaks of rest. The world in which we live is a world of weariness and unrest. The only place where the Christian can find rest and relaxation, joy, peace, and serenity is “there.”
This means that as long as the doctrine is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, which speaks of the foundation, typified by the “twelve wells of water,” and the ministry, typified by the “threescore and ten palm trees,” then Christ will be found, His glory will be found, and His grace will be found.
Have you pitched your tent there? If not, come back to Elim, return there and find rest.
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