I can relate to the Israelite people in Exodus 15 — even though I want to say I would never be like them in the following passage.
I would like to say that my faith would stay strong as I remember what the Lord has done for me in the past. That I would not falter. That I would stay positive when hard times come. That through the hard times, I would be like Paul and Silas in the jail — praising God in the middle of the night.
That I what I hope I will do. But I know I sometimes complain about little first world problems. Like being hot. Being tired. Having a lot to do. Being upset about what someone has said to me or a child’s bad attitude. And it makes me think, “I probably would have been one of those doubting, complaining Israelites!”
Here is the story:
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, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. Exodus 15:22-26
In Exodus 15, the Israelite people have forgotten that the Lord provides (Jehovah-Jireh). God, just three days earlier, had delivered them from the Egyptians. He had done a miracle that allowed them cross the Red Sea on dry ground.
They had been on a cloud 9 for a day. Miriam danced and the women had danced and sang praises to God just a few verses earlier in this same chapter. And then they came to the bitter waters — and they murmur against their leader.
For three days, they had been walking through a hot dry desert. Their water has run out. Their food has run out. They are hot, hungry, thirsty, and crabby. Their children are hot, hungry, thirsty, crabby, and whiny. And they are genuinely worried. Will they survive? If they don’t get water soon, people will die!
But instead of going to the One who can provide, they complain.
Ken Hemphill in his book, Names of God, had the following quote:
“Great spiritual victory is often followed by defeat, discouragement, dissension, and depression. Satan often intensifies his spiritual attack immediately after we experience spiritual victory. He always tries to snatch away our victory and attempts to dull our joy.”
Be on guard! Satan would love to do for you what he did for the Israelite people. He would love to create division, dissension, and distress. He wants to steal your joy. When you have a spiritual victory, get ready — because He could attack.
And if he does, what will you do? How will you respond? Will you murmur and complain? Of course, not against God! But will you murmur against the people God has placed in your life? Against the situations God has placed in your life?
Then in reality, we are murmuring against God. Because He is sovereign. He is in control, and He has allowed those people and situations in your life FOR A REASON! And He knows best.
God knew that the Israelites would end up Marah. In fact, He led them there!
Exodus 13:21-22 shows how the Lord was leading them in the wilderness:
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Our question might be, “Why?”
Why would God lead people into difficulty?
Why would He want us to experience hardship, thirst, and hunger?
- There are so many reasons, but one simple one is that if we never experience thirst, then we never desire God’s water.
- If we never experience the bitter waters, then we never experience the power of God in healing the waters.
- If we never taste the bitter, then we’ll never taste the sweetness after God heals the bitter.
- If we never have pain and sickness, then we never need a healer.
- If we don’t see our need of a Savior, then we don’t understand how Jesus, our tree, can transform our life just like the tree transformed the bitter water into sweet water.
God knows what He is doing — but will we trust Him?
How will we respond when the bitter times come into our lives?
Will we murmur and complain?
Or will we be like Moses who cried out to God?
I want to be like Moses!
Next week, I will go into the meaning of the name, Jehovah-rapha, and seeing how the name Jehovah-rapha applies to our everyday lives. I’ll share the printables also for this lesson, but I hope this week got you excited to see how God is our healer for those bitter times in our life. He has a plan, and He knows best!
You see, even in the bitter times, He is Jehovah-Jireh and He will provide. He knew the water was bitter, and He had provided years beforehand a tree to grow in that place that He would use to make the water sweet. He knows beforehand what we will need when we experience the bitter waters in our life. He will not leave us dry and thirsty. He will not fail us.
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