An Oasis Awaits
An oasis is defined as a fertile place where water is found in a dry or wilderness area. It is a lush location because there is an underground, unseen water source. Exodus 15:27 tells of the Children of Israel coming to such a place as they journeyed from Egypt. We read, “And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.” Elim was a place that offered the Israelites physical refreshment and respite on their journey.
In a figurative sense, an oasis is a place of relief and refuge where one can escape from the difficulties and unpleasant circumstances of life. When viewed that way, our church sanctuary is an oasis. We step out of the world into the House of God, and we are renewed in our spirits. At home, we may have a private place of refuge and spiritual refreshment. Any time of day, we can go there to find renewal for our souls.
Wherever we find a spiritual oasis, we are refreshed by an unseen source of living water. It is that living water—the nourishment from God above to meet our spiritual needs—that sustains our souls.
The Israelites’ journey
When the Israelites arrived at the oasis of Elim, they were on a journey toward the Promised Land. Moses referred to their destination in that manner because God had promised the place they were headed would be a better land than Egypt, where the Israelites had previously lived in captivity. In Deuteronomy 11:10-11, we read, “For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of Heaven.” The Israelites were told that the Promised Land would be “a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills” (Deuteronomy 8:7). It was their hope and expectation that it would be worth the journey.
Their journey began with a mighty deliverance. After death occurred throughout Egypt in the final plague God sent upon the land, the Children of Israel had been led by God into the wilderness. As they neared the Red Sea and were threatened by the Egyptian army that pursued them, God told Moses to stretch forth his rod, and when he obeyed, the Red Sea divided. The Israelites went across on dry ground, but when the Egyptian army tried to do the same, the waters came together, engulfed them, and they drowned.
The people were grateful and rejoiced at the deliverance God had given them. In Exodus 15, we find the closing portion of what is called the Song of Moses, or the Song of Deliverance. Moses sang, “The <smallcaps>Lord<smallcaps> is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation” (Exodus 15:2). Moses’ sister, Miriam, also sang with gratitude. Her words included, “Sing ye to the <smallcaps>Lord<smallcaps>, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea” (Exodus 15:21). Moses and Miriam taught the Jewish people, perhaps three million strong, to sing songs of jubilation in response to the great work God had done.
Then, just three days farther along in the Israelites’ journey, they came to a dry, desert area and became thirsty. Their songs of glorious jubilation changed to bitter murmuring when they found the waters of Marah were unfit to drink. They accused Moses, declaring that he was the problem and complaining that they should have stayed in Egypt and died there rather than enduring the rigors of the wilderness and dying from thirst. However, their problem was not Moses nor was it the wilderness. Their problem was with God, and their words reveal that.
Dry places—times of adversity, hardship, and trials—have a way of revealing our true character.
Dry places—times of adversity, hardship, and trials—have a way of revealing our true character. Many years after the Israelites’ sojourn in the wilderness, the Apostle Paul pointed out that truth to the church at Corinth. He stated, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13). God is faithful to reveal the quality of our character to us so that we can take any needed action.
Moses did what the Israelites should have done in that dry place: instead of complaining, he prayed! In response to his prayers, God showed him a tree to cast into the bitter waters, and when he obeyed, the waters were made sweet so the people could safely drink. God also gave the people a promise—a conditional promise—that if they would hear and do what He commanded, He would spare them from all the diseases of Egypt. From there, God led them to the oasis of Elim.
Our spiritual journey
We are on a journey of a different sort than that of the Israelites. Our journey began with what transpired on Calvary. There on the Cross, Jesus paid the price for our redemption. When we understood this, and in faith availed ourselves of the salvation Christ offers, God’s mercy was extended to us. At that point, we embarked upon a spiritual journey.
Like the Children of Israel, we do not know what we will encounter along the way, but we do know that our journey will lead to Heaven. We recognize that we are pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land, but as we travel, our eyes are fixed on our eternal goal.
As we progress in our spiritual journey, at times we may feel we are living in a wilderness—perhaps not a geographical wilderness like the one the Israelites encountered, but a wilderness just the same. Some would call the city of Portland where we live a wilderness. Viewed from a spiritual perspective, I would not argue with that assessment. However, no matter where we currently live on this earth, we are looking for a better country. There is not a place on this planet that can compare to what we see ahead! Our destination is beyond compare.
Like the Israelites, our journey includes both bitter and sweet experiences. We will have times of jubilation and refreshing, and we will go through dry places and times of trial. In those times of trial, if we will look to God and continue to trust in Him, He will sustain us with an unseen source of living water.
An oasis stands in contrast to a mirage. A mirage is just an illusion; it promises what does not actually exist. Mirages often appear in dry and hot areas. Those traveling through such a place look ahead and observe what appears to be water. They expend all their energy to get to that source of refreshment, but they never arrive because it is only a mirage.
That is a picture of what the enemy of our soul attempts to do to us. He promises what does not exist and what he cannot deliver. However, a spiritual oasis is no mirage. It is a reality, and the living water we find there will support us through life.
The woman at the well in Samaria received of that living water. We read in John 4:10-14 that Jesus was sitting at the well when she approached to draw water, and He asked her for a drink. She expressed amazement at His request because the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus told her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” The woman responded that He had nothing to draw with and the well was deep. She asked, “From whence then hast thou that living water?” Jesus replied, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Jesus’ words help us understand some facts about living water. First, we notice that Jesus told the woman, “If thou knewest the gift of God, . . .” so living water is a gift; it is freely offered. We see that it is living; it is not lifeless or stagnant. The Samaritan woman wanted something that would quench her thirst temporarily, but Jesus had in mind something that would satisfy her soul eternally!
The water that Jesus offered the Samaritan woman is available for us as well, and hopefully, our response is the same as hers. She said, “Sir, give me this water.” We do not need a bucket to obtain what Jesus offers because it is spiritual water. Since it springs up within us, it is invisible to others and even to ourselves, but we can see its effects.
A present source
While we may view our church sanctuary or the places at home where we drop to our knees and meet with the Lord as a spiritual oasis where we can be refreshed, we are not always in church or at home. However, the living water that Jesus provides can always be present.
In the Gospel of John, we read where Jesus stood in the Temple in Jerusalem on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). The rivers of living water will flow from within us! This is another reference to that unseen source. The Scripture goes on to say, “This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” The Holy Ghost had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet ascended into Heaven, but He promised His followers that after His ascension, He would send the Comforter.
Years ago, when I was attending university in Corvallis, Oregon, I experienced the infilling of those “rivers of living water.” I recently had been saved and then went to the Portland camp meeting where I was sanctified. I understood the necessity of being baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire, and was seeking for that experience. In that “wilderness” environment of academia, I found a place of refuge in the one-room apartment where I lived during that term. There I sought the Lord, relentlessly and earnestly, and God heard my prayer.
When I finally did receive the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I asked the Lord to send that current of living water just one more time, and He did! It was a peaceful current.
Later, I looked back and realized I could count five different times when the power of God had come down and He had filled me with His Spirit, if I had only believed and accepted the gift. That January night, when I finally did receive the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I asked the Lord to send that current of living water just one more time, and He did! It was a peaceful current. I thought I was in the basement of our Roseburg church praying by myself with just one other person present. However, when I stood up from that prayer meeting and looked around, there must have been thirty people in that basement. We were all enjoying the outpouring of living water.
An opportunity today
In Psalm 63, David must have been wishing for an Elim-like experience when, in the wilderness of Judah, he cried out, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). Dry and thirsty lands are a prime place to connect with God. When you are going through a dry place, lift up your eyes and realize that an oasis is before you. You only need to draw from that unseen source.
When was the last time you tapped into that source? When was the last time you had an experience with God where your soul was refreshed? While I do not know the answer to those questions, I know when the next time can be—today! At this very moment, you can look to the One who cannot be seen, and ask Him to send that graceful, smooth, and powerful current of living water through your soul. God will honor His Word and you will come away from your spiritual oasis spiritually renewed and refreshed.