“So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,” – Exodus 15:22-25
I was eating at a local barbecue restaurant one day during my lunch break. I am a serious sweet tea addict and my glass was low and I was in need of a refill. I noticed that they had an automatic tea brewing machine that was in the process of making a fresh batch of tea. I was glad for the chance to get a nice, fresh glass of iced tea, so I filled my glass up from the dispenser as the brewer continued to pour tea into the large container.
Everything seemed great until I took a sip of the tea. The overwhelming taste of tea and caffeine almost knocked me off my feet. I didn’t realize that I was drinking concentrated tea without any water added. The machine had not yet added the water when I poured my glass. I didn’t drink any tea for a couple of weeks after that.
Sometimes the circumstances of life leave us with a bitter taste in our mouths. Such was the case for the children of Israel in the wilderness of Shur. They had travelled for three days without water, and, when they finally found something to drink, it was bitter. They murmured and complained about the hand that had been dealt to them.
As we look closer at the passage, we see that the water wasn’t the only thing that was bitter.
First, the wilderness was bitter. They had travelled three days in the hot, dry wilderness with no water. Try that and see how long it is before you complain. But, sometimes life can be this way. We follow The Lord faithfully, but it seems as though He has led us through a wilderness. Days of suffering and dryness pass, and we find no relief for our thirsty souls. It seems The Lord has forsaken us. Life has seasons of bitterness.
Second, the water was bitter. They had travelled all this way to finally find water and it was bitter. But, instead of turning to God, they complained. They sought an earthly solution to their problem. This world and all it has to offer is nothing but a bitter drink of water. Not matter how far we travel in this life, we will find nothing but bitterness apart from God.
Third, the words were bitter. The Israelites are infamous for murmuring and complaining. They had witnessed many mighty miracles from the hand of God, and, yet, they still complained when a little discomfort came their way. What do you do when life hands you a bitter pill? Do you complain? God said “In every thing give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18). God performed the greatest miracle of all when He saved your soul, so, nothing you face in life is too big for Him to handle.
So, what was the answer?
First of all, Moses prayed. He sought the face of The Lord. This should be our reaction in all the circumstances of life. Pray about every decision that comes your way, no matter if it be great or small, just pray. Second, Moses obeyed God’s command. He told Moses to cast a tree into the water. Moses obeyed and the waters were made sweet. Always obey The Lord.
Notice that God showed Moses a tree. What a beautiful picture of the cross. Mankind was full of bitterness, thirst and sin until the cross was cast into the waters of humanity. Now the sinful are made sweet.
What are you burdened with today? What bitter waters have come your way? Look to the cross and all will be made sweet. God always points us to the cross. Romans 8:32 says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If God can save our souls, then He can sweeten our situation. Look to the cross.