July 10 I Wednesday
“When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter.” —Exodus 15:23
In times of testing, we can go one of three ways. One, we can adopt a “whatever will be, will be” attitude. Two, we can become bitter and resentful. Or three, we can draw nearer to God. One of the prime examples of God working out His purpose in a time of testing is seen in the bitter water of Marah. Having crossed the Red Sea, the Israelites are finally free but are now languishing in the hot, barren desert of Shur. On the third day, they see something glistening in the distance. They rush to the water and take a drink, only to find that it is bitter. Again, Moses and Aaron bear the brunt of a disgruntled people.
But Exodus 15:25 tells us, “Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.” The Lord then made a decree with His people saying, “for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). It is intriguing that the antidote was a piece of wood as there is no wood presently known that can neutralize bitter water. Many Bible commentators have viewed the use of wood as foreshadowing the cross of Christ. Even in Scripture, there is association of the cross of Christ being a means of healing: “by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Jamie Buckingham, an expert in desert conditions, wrote A Way Through the Wilderness. He noted that the water of Marah was filled with magnesium, which is a powerful laxative that would have expelled mostly amoeba, parasites and death-dealing germs the Israelites would have brought with them out of Egypt. Magnesium also forms the basis of a drug called “dolomite,” which athletes use, when training in extreme hot weather, to control heart fibrillation and muscle spasms. God had provided the right medicine to purge the Israelites’ systems and prepare their bodies for the long, arduous journey through the desert.
The Israelites’ first stop in the wilderness was not a place of despair, but a place where God had provided medicinal water. They drank the water and then arrived at Elim, where there was numerous springs and palm trees—a restful place with plenty of fresh water to set up camp. We have all encountered our “bitter water,” but it is a means of God’s blessing in which He works to bring us to our own “Elim,” where we find rest in the full sufficiency and provision of Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am in awe of You and how You allow me to discover for myself the wonderful provision and sufficiency I have in You. Thank You, Lord.