Summary: The cure of criticism

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“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?’” (Ex. 15:22-24).

1. Two critical responses at the Red Sea. First, “The children of Israel cried out to the Lord” (14:10). Second, “They said to Moses . . . you have taken us away to die in the desert” (14:11).

2. Can you criticize when the Lord leads you? “The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud” (13:21).

3. The problem. “They went out into the wilderness of Shur, and they went three days . . . no water” (15:22). Some criticize at the first problem they face.

4. They were disillusioned. “They came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter” (15:23).

5. The focus of their complaint. “The people complained against Moses.”

a. Because he knew the desert.

b. Because he was the leader.

c. Because of their background they complained about Egyptian task masters.

d. Because of habit. Some naturally see the negatives.

6. Their conditions: blistered feet, parched lips, treeless horizon, scared and tired, hope dashed, ideals shattered.

7. They forgot the miracles of God, i.e., the Red Sea, the plagues in Egypt.

8. How can we complain about God – or to God – when the cloud (God’s presence) is right before us?

Was the water bitter to Israel because their criticism was bitter to God?

9. Israel trusted God when everything was right, but complained at first real problem.

10. We go from “highs” to “lows,” i.e., from great high praise worship by “all the women” (15:20), to lowly criticism by all.

11. Remember we will face trials in our desert. It’s how we respond that causes us to grow in Christ. “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Rom. 5:3).

12. The wilderness and Marah are a school to teach us, (a) the disappointments of life, (b) how to adjust to difficulties, (c) the plan of God for us.


1. The answer is in God. “He (Moses) cried out to the Lord, and the Lord shows him a tree . . . the waters were made sweet” (15:25).

2. The best way to cure a chronic complainer is prayer. Moses “cried out to the Lord” (15:25).

3. Besides each Marah grows a tree to make the troubles “sweet.”

4. The people were too occupied with their problems to pray to God, or to see the tree.

5. Sometimes God uses a natural means for supernatural deliverance. “The Lord showed him (Moses) a tree” (15:25).

a. Did a live tree have to die?

b. Was it the only tree there?

c. Did the tree have curative properties?

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