Summary: Five principles that we need to glean in order that we do not allow the problems that we face in life produce bitterness.
The Life of Moses
Sermon # 10
“From Joy to Bitterness and Back Again.”
(key verses 22-27)
Dr. John R. Hamby
One of the greatest challenges that you will face in life is to try to keep bitterness at bay. Everyone has to guard against bitterness creeping into their hearts. A lot of things in life have the potential to make us bitter. Family problems, marriage stresses, rejection, past abuses, loneliness, misunderstanding, conflicts, church problems and the list could go on forever. All of these if not dealt have the potential to become bitterness in your soul. Everything you think about will then be processed through this filter of pain, it will effect your thinking, your emotions, your relationship with others and your relationship with God. When that happens you lose you effectiveness in accomplishing anything for God with you life.
In Exodus 15, verse one we read that the children of Israel were jubilant at the deliverance they had just received at the hand of God, we read, “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD….” They were so joyful at having been miraculously redeemed from bondage and delivered from their enemies forever, that they are full of praise. The first twenty verses of Exodus 15 are a song in which the Israelites celebrated and commemorated their victory at the Red Sea. But now they face the wilderness. Would the joy of deliverance and the knowledge of their God give them the inner strength to face the trials that lay ahead? Does Yours?
As we look at these experiences in a sermon that I have entitled, “From Joy to Bitterness and Back Again,” there are five principles that we need to glean in order that we do not allow the problems that we face in life produce bitterness.
1. Great Victories Are Sometimes Followed by Great Problems (v. 22)
“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.”
They were on their way to the Promised Land, but it was proving to be a difficult journey. We see Israel move quickly from the joy of victory to the bitterness of disappointment.
The text says “then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea…they traveled in the desert without finding water.” Only three days into their journey they encountered their first difficulty, a shortage of water. Can you imagine the relief when in the distance they spotted an oasis and their hopes rose high as they hurried to this potential of life-giving water.
2. Problems As Well As Victories Are Part of God’s Plan (v. 23)
Verse 23 says, “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.” They plunged their faces into the water to quench their thirst only to find that the water was bitter. It was not poisonous but it was unpleasant. Because the water was to bitter to drink the people called it the “waters of bitterness.” When it became apparent that their hopes for relief from thirst were in vain, they reacted as they had in the past. I want you to notice that in the space of three short days they have gone from singing and praising to turning on their leader, murmuring and complaining. But in truth sometimes we can do that in a lot shorter time. Some of us lose our praise and forget God in the time that it takes us to get home from church.
The fact that “Marah” came to the children of Israel is proof that it can and will happen to us. Life is made up of such experiences, of highs and lows, of mountain-tops and valleys. Some say, “But I thought that being saved meant that life would be without pain and that I would have the presence of Jesus with me at all times.” Well, welcome to Reality. Difficulties and setbacks come with amazing regularity in life, sometimes right on the heels of extraordinary blessing. We are caught off guard and gladness quickly changes to gloom and despair.
It seems that some times when we as the people of God experience blessing instead of being thankful we come to expect that level of blessing. If God has blessed you in some tangible way and you have enjoyed the abundance you, if you do not watch yourself you will begin to expect that blessing as your right.
3. When We Murmur We Fail the Test (v. 24)
The next verse (v. 24) they cry out “And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Their agonizing cry tells us of their disillusionment and disappointment. Instead of turning to God in supplication and trust they assumed the problem was unsolvable and that they were doomed to die in this hot and arid wilderness. Even though they had only three days before witnessed amazing supernatural deliverance, they assumed that God had now left them to die.