In the Book of Exodus, there is a powerful example of God opening Israel’s eyes to His availability. Just after the Israelites had been delivered from
Pharaoh’s army, they went into the desert where they had no water. God led them to the waters of Marah.
“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” (Exodus 15:23-25 NKJV).
God led them to waters which could not be consumed. He did not lead them there to drink bitter water, but to change the water from bitter to sweet.
I once heard a ridiculous interpretation of this scripture. Supposedly, God led the Israelites to the bitter water, expecting them to drink it. When they
drank the water, its high mineral content (which made it bitter) would cause their bodies to be cleansed of all impurities and toxins they had received
during their oppression in Egypt. Can you imagine several million people and all their livestock being cleaned out at the same time? The truth is they
never touched the bitter water to their lips. They drank sweet water!
We may have been faced with “bitter waters” many times in our lives. Situations, problems, or tragedies will arise to challenge our walk with God. The
Holy Spirit has come to provide the wisdom, counsel, or might we need to turn those waters of life from bitter to sweet!
God told Moses to take the tree and put it into the water. Moses’ obedience brought a miracle, and the miracle brought a revelation: God did not want them
to drink bitter waters. He is a good God; and Israel needed to know that. If they would simply obey Him, He would care for them. Yet even after the
great miracles God gave them, Israel would not continue to walk with God. They refused to listen to His instructions.
Psalm 81 is a window into God’s heart as He was reaching out to His nation:
“But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels”
(vv. 11,12 NKJV).
Israel would not heed the counsel of God. No wonder they wandered in the wilderness. Counsel came to them as it does to us. Listen to the results Israel
could have received as the Psalm continues:
“Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him, but their fate would endure forever. He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you” (vv. 13-16).
The Moffat version ends verse 16 like this: “…with honey from the rock to their heart’s content.” Their experience could have been much different.
If they had learned the lesson from the bitter waters of Marah, they would have seen how to reach out for counsel and wisdom from Jehovah God.
The tree at Marah represents the Branch: Jesus Christ. He will turn the bitter waters of our lives into sweet. Call upon Him now!