Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Thoughts from Sunday's Sermon

 Exodus 15:22-27 (NKJV,

So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

As Christians we sometimes go through difficult times. Things are looking good; God may have just performed a miraculous miracle, then suddenly we find ourselves out in the wilderness and God seems to have abandoned us. We might find ourselves, is the Israelites did, in a place like Mara - a place which seems to promise refreshment and relief, yet when we bend down to take a sip of water, we find that it's a fraud. The water looks good to drink, but it is really bitter.

We go through various bitter periods in life. They hurt us and sting us, and we can't understand why God would allow this to happen. But he knows what he is doing. The Lord was teaching the Israelites to depend on him and not what the Wilderness offered. It was only he who could make the bitter sweet. And he did - in the most unexpected way.

So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. 

A tree? The Lord told Moses to throw a tree in the water to make it sweet? Okay, maybe the translation's not quite accurate and it was a large branch - or a small sapling. But either way, God used something that seemed quite arbitrary, quite ordinary to remove the bitterness and replace it with sweetness. He has a habit of doing that. Of using the most unexpected person or event, to help us through our bitter experiences. It's a way of showing both his power and his love for us. The tree itself possessed no special properties with which it could sweeten water. This showed the Israelites that it was not nature, nor Moses' wisdom that cured the waters, but God's mighty strength which could use something useless, possibly even dead, to achieve his purpose.
There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am
the LORD who heals you.”

This was not the last test the Israelites would face, and not the last they would fail. Thank God that, as with the Israelites, he is willing to forgive us when we fail these tests. That despite the way we grumble at him, he still steps in, when the time is right, and makes the water's sweet.

A final thought. Perhaps it was not coincidence that the Lord used a tree to sweeten the waters of Mara. This was not the last time he would use a tree. There was another tree, this time a truly lifeless piece of wood, that would be used not only to sweeten the worst bitterness in our lives - that brought about by sin and death - but to bring life to all who will believe.

God's word is alive, and very little ever happens by coincidence. May the Waters of Mara remind us of this as we go through our daily life, with it's bitterness, difficulties and unexpected blessings.

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

No comments: