Monday, April 28, 2008

Bitter Water

I just can't seem to get that passage from Exodus 15 out of my mind. Perhaps God still has a lesson for me and I haven't learned it yet.

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 sweet. There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
Exodus 15:25-26 NIV

Now, I am not all that smart. And I had to dig a little into the commentaries to gain some insight as to why this passage was speaking to my heart. And here is what I found. The evidence and speculative conclusions may point to a tree with some chemical properties that enabled the wood or its sap to render the bitter water sweet.

Maybe it did, or maybe it didn't. Maybe, as one lady in my Bible Study says, “It was God's will.” Maybe it was just another plain old garden variety miracle like the one at the Red Sea a few chapters earlier. The point is that the water became sweet to drink.

Now, here is the part that I failed to fully grasp earlier. The newly sweetened water had a medicinal effect as well as a refreshing effect. In fact, it had a “cleansing” effect. One of the commentaries noted that there is research to indicate that the water acted as a laxative and purged the Children of Israel of some internal gastrointestinal parasites that caused weakness and was marked by dysentery.

So, here is the point.

Are you ready for this?

Not only did God want to get His children out of Egypt. He wanted to get Egypt (or at least its ill effects) out of his children!

OK, that's may be a little gross and out of place on a blog about holiness. But maybe not once you let the thought sink in. At Marah, God provided just the right medicine to prepare His children both physically and spiritually for the long hot march to Sinai.

So what does that mean to me?

I think it means that when I have tasted the bitter waters of sin, shame and suffering I can have them sweetened by the wood of Calvary's cross. And that wood can bring refreshing, cleansing and healing to a sin sick soul. It can cleanse the outside. And it can cleanse the inside from the stain of sin. So that, just like the Children of Israel were cleansed of the internal parasites, God can cleanse me from the sinful nature that causes me fall into sin.

And that dear friend, is holiness.


  1. Jesus is the Living Water. During the process of Santification, Believers continue to thirst for Him.
    God may have instructed Moses to throw wood into the water to make it sweet. Jesus hung on wood and took the bitter bite of sin and death from us.
    Fill me up!

  2. Nice tie in to the cross. I think that is altogether appropriate.

    And the idea of "Fill me up!" is appropriate as we consider the fact that the Holy Spirit indwells us. But that's a whole 'nother thread...