Summary: Are you disappointed in life? You need to hear this message. It is easy to be content when things are going well – but like the Israelites when life turns bitter we become disappointed. God wants to teach us to be content not just when things go our way –
The Song of Moses and Miriam
“Who [or what] do you turn to when life turns bitter?”
Leaving Egypt was life changing. Ended more than 400 years of slavery
Moses was at first an unwilling leader
Spent 40 years in wilderness
Hebrews needed to trust God
Miracles to show Hebrews and Pharaoh God was in control
Story punctuated by the 10 plagues
Blood, Frogs, Lice, Flies, Livestock die, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, First born dies
Finally after centuries languishing in Egypt the Hebrew people are set free
They are chased by Pharaoh and his armies with a change of heart
In front lies a body of water ... the Red Sea
Behind them a blur of dust and chariots gaining on the Hebrew people
The Israelites look to Moses as to say --- let’s give up and return to Egypt
It’s better than perishing in the sea
Moses raises his hands and the Israelites cross the sea on dry land
Upon successfully crossing the Red Sea and watching the demise of their Egyptian pursuers – the Israelites lead by Moses sing to worship the LORD
What seemed insurmountable was made possible – who or what would stand in their way?
Eugene Peterson comments, “You live in a world ruled by the God of Exodus and Easter. He will do things in you that neither you nor your friends would have supposed possible. He is not limited by anything you think you know about Him.”
Seemingly nothing could go wrong
v. 22 from Red Sea – into the Desert of Shur
Travelled for three days without finding water – Marah
1. Life can get bitter
With the victory fresh in their minds the Israelites encounter a problem
No fresh water – when they find water it is bitter.
Life can turn bitter with little or no notice
In his book A Sweet and Bitter Providence, John Piper says of life: Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback.
Someone close loses their life
Loss of a job -- Being passed over for a promotion
The end of a relationship
Being let down by a family member or work colleague
Life can get bitter very quickly – and it causes us to grumble
2. Being Content when we are disappointed
In 1991, Robert Hughes, an art critic, wrote a book called The Culture of Complaint. His thesis is that we live in a culture in which we perceive ourselves as being entitled to having all our wants and desires fulfilled. When that doesn’t happen, we become “victims,” we whine and complain and grumble. If we see it as somebody else’s “issue” that’s caused our inconvenience, then we sue that person or institution.
Are you disappointed in life? You need to hear this message. It is easy to be content when things are going well – but like the Israelites when life turns bitter we become disappointed. God wants to teach us to be content ... not just when things go our way – but also when they don’t.
[John Piper A Sweet and Bitter Providence] ... the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.
3. The more we know God the more thankful we will be
We all experience disappointment – like Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, We can’t get no satisfaction
We try everything: - Drugs, Alcohol, Relationships, Sex, Marriage, Not getting married, Money, Recognition, Work, Leisure, Vacations, Travel, Material things, Cars, Boats, Jewellery, Clothes, Shopping, Religion ... you name it – we try it.
We will continue to be disappointed until we find what fulfils us
Brings us contentment and satisfaction
The God of the bible ... our heavenly father
Saint Augustine live in the late 4th C and early 5th C AD
Had an incredible impact on Christianity
Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you, O God.”
In his book Exodus and Revolution, Michael Walzer shares three lessons we can all learn from the Exodus event of the Old Testament:
What the Exodus taught: first, that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt. Second, that there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land. And third, that “the way to the land is through the wilderness.”
Normally we would say that God can change your circumstances ... but perhaps today we should be seeking to change the way we perceive our circumstances.