Summary: A great message about overcoming hopelessness and bitterness
From Mara to the Wells of Elim
Exodus 15:22-27 NKJV “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. 23 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. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" 25 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. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you." 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.
I love the whole story of the Exodus and all the Israelites went through from 430 years of slavery in Egypt until they finally possessed the land of Canaan 45 years after they crossed the Red Sea. The story I just read happens immediately after they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground after God parted the waters. You know, there is a lot we can gain from this story by walking through the Word step by step.
It starts out with the fact that they crossed the Red Sea and then the whole nation walked three days into the Wilderness of Shur.
The Wilderness of Shur means the “Point of Observation.”
So, up to this time things have been a whirlwind in you will. They have seen the 10 plagues, Pharaoh’s harshness, subsequently Pharaoh’s release of the Israelites, then his change of mind and his pursuit to get them back. They were pinned up next to the sea with seemingly no escape. Then they saw the Red Sea parted and a supernatural wind blowing on the seabed all night drying it out while God supernaturally kept the Egyptians at bay. Finally they were given the go ahead to cross the sea which they did as they witnessed the demise of the Egyptian army. And finally they are across the Red Sea and apparently safe.
And now, the Israelites have entered the Wilderness of Shur or the Point of Observation. They have reached a place where they can take stock of their situation, catch their breath and try to make sense of it all. But their Point of Observation was view from the wilderness, not the final destination. So their observation was a little biased and tainted by their recent past experiences. Sometimes when we are in a difficult place in life we need to stop and find a point of observation to kind of take inventory and process everything that has taken place.
Let me ask you a question…. Have you ever felt as if God helped you out of a terrible jam just to put you in a bigger hole?
That was what the Israelites were feeling when they walked three days into Shur, the Point of Observation just to find out they made it to Mara, the “Place of Bitterness.” I mean, we can only go about three days without water and they were three days away from the Red Sea…. How were they going to make it?
Hebrews 12:15-16, NLT “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
One reason that bitterness is so extremely dangerous is because it can take root and begin to grow and spread and spiritually contaminate and defile your heart and spirit before you even realize what's wrong with you. Sinful human nature makes it very easy for us to rationalize and justify ourselves for harboring hurt feelings or a grudge against others when we feel that they have wronged or mistreated us. In fact, we can even feel this way towards God!
Like the roots of most plants, little "roots" of resentment and bitterness lay below the surface where they remain unseen while they are growing. But there they go, spreading and growing; going ever deeper and deeper. If allowed to continue, these roots of bitterness will eventually eat away at your very heart and soul, until they finally devour and destroy you spiritually!--Ultimately leaving you spiritually dead and virtually useless to the Lord! Bitterness is very much like the South American vine known as the "Matador." Beginning at the foot of a tree, the matador vine slowly works its way to the top. But as it grows, it kills the tree, and when at last the top is reached, it sends forth a flower to crown itself. The word “Matador” literally means KILLER. Bitterness may appear harmless when it is small, but if it is allowed to grow, eventually it kill the soul.