While I have never been to the Sinai Peninsula where this Old Testament story occurred, I was in the Judean Wilderness by the Dead Sea just a few weeks ago. We were instructed by our tour guide to drink plenty of water because the threat of dehydration was high. While exploring the ruins of Masada, I ran out of water. It didn’t take long before I began to feel the effects. Fortunately, I found a fountain and was able to refill my water bottle with clean, cold H2O.
Imagine traveling by foot through the hot, dry wilderness. The water containers are empty. Your tongue is cleaving to the roof of your mouth. Your children are begging for something to drink. Dehydration is setting in and you must find water fast. And then in the distance you see a grove of Palm trees; a sign that water must be near. But when you come to the pool you find it contaminated, toxic, undrinkable.
It was Solomon who wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Life has its share of bitter disappointments. Exodus 15 is a picture of that, and shows how quickly life can turn. At the beginning of the chapter the people are rejoicing by the waters of the Red Sea. By the end they are distressed at the waters of Marah.
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Moses cried out to God on behalf of the people, and the Lord showed him a tree. When Moses cast the tree into the waters they were miraculously healed, and the crisis was averted.
The tree that healed the waters reminds us of the cross of Jesus Christ. Without Christ in your heart, the bitter experiences of life have no positive meaning or resolution. But when Jesus enters your life, He brings hope and healing. In the words of J. Vernon McGee, “It is the cross of Christ that makes the Marah experiences of life sweet.”
The next time you find yourself at some disappointing Marah experience, kneel at the foot of the cross and look into the face of the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for you iniquities, chastised for your peace, and afflicted for your healing. Look to the One who not only died there for you, but rose again triumphantly! Turn your eyes upon Jesus. He alone can make the bitter waters better.
Pastor Todd Weston