As a family, we have recently been listening to about 5-7 chapters of the Bible each day. It has been a great blessing, as it stirs up the mind and spirit. One particular section of Exodus really caught my attention this week. It is as follows:
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:…
What a problem these people faced! The only water source found for about a million wandering Israelites was non-potable. Back up just a bit, and we find that they had been in the wilderness for three days, and had been unable to find water. So when they did stumble upon a source, it was bitter. Doesn’t that match an experience or two that each of us has had?
In every situation in life, things have a tendency to go bitter. Relationships can teeter under the weight of daily stress. Financial dealings may not size up as we hoped they might. Our health can quickly turn in a direction that we had not expected. A bitter circumstance may be just around the corner for a number of us.Yes, the glass is half empty.
Back to our problem in the desert. So the people are on the brink of dying of dehydration, and they begin to murmur against Moses, and basically God’s provision. “What shall we drink?” was the cry that they directed at Moses. Moses then turned to God as he usually did when he had no idea how to handle the murmurings. God’s answer for him? “Throw a tree into the water.” Huh? “You heard me correctly. Throw a tree into the water!”
So Moses obeys, and finds that the water is made sweet. “What kind of tree can turn bitter waters sweet?” is my question. Now this question could have a scientific slant to it if I wanted it to, but I think I’ll head down another path. Let’s focus on the deeper spiritual meaning usually associated with this scriptural account.
The tree here can refer us to a yet future tree. The tree of Calvary, where the sins of the whole world were laid upon Jesus Christ, God’s Son. There, Jesus Christ took the place of each one of us, and died for our sins, bearing the curse for us.
When we think of the bitterness of sin, and the grim consequence of eternity in Hell that results, it’s refreshing to know that there is an alternative. It’s a sweet end to a bitter beginning. Our lives are bitter. We cry out to God for help. He says, “Try the tree.” What a simple solution. Sometimes the simplicity turns us away. We think, “How can that help?” But many have put the solution to the test, and found it to be a valid one. In fact, I believe it to be the only valid one.
Or maybe we trusted Christ years ago, and we find ourselves in a bitter struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We only need to cast the tree in once again. Bring Christ into the waters of life, and things will once again be sweet. Only when we add Christ and His work on the cross can everything be made sweet. Adding Christ in our thoughts, meditations, prayers, etc. will prove to make whatever we face much more bearable. In many instances, we become like Peter who could walk on top of the stormy waters as long as he looked upon the only source of peace – Jesus Christ. Remember, when he looked at the circumstance, he faltered.
“…and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet…”