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The Bitter Waters of Marah and the Cross (Exodus 15: 22-27)

The Bitter Waters of Marah and the Cross (Exodus 15: 22-27)

Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, across the wilderness, is a type of the believers’ walk with God. The experiences and lessons taught by God to Israel along the way during the forty years journey, corresponds to the believer’s own experiences and lessons learnt during our walk with the Lord in this present life.

One such experience is Israel’s first encounter with a challenge almost immediately after crossing the Red Sea. The bitter waters of Marah. It was the intention of God to test Israel’s trust and commitment to Him by this experience (Ex. 15:25). In a similar fashion, the Lord will test every confession of love expressed by believers.

There are three powerful lessons, which we can learn from the Marah experience. These lessons can be used as guiding principles for our daily walk with the Lord.

  • The concept of a test of true love, trust and commitment to the Lord
  • The role of redemption in our life
  • The covenant of divine healing established by God for Israel and believers today.

A test of true love, trust and commitment to the Lord

Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is a type of the believers’ Salvation experience. The miraculous Red Sea crossing signifies the gift of Salvation through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. The sea was parted miraculously by the power of God and Israel walked across on dry ground. No effort on their part was required; it was all set before them. Salvation is a gift from God, made possible through Christ.

Israel journeyed for three days from the Red Sea through the wilderness of Shur. Their waters were expended, and Israel were now in dire need for water. This was their first test of trust. The God who brought them through the Red Sea is able to provide water, more than they require. Israel failed this test of trust. Instead of petitioning the throne of grace and experiencing greater miracles, they began to complain and murmur against Moses. A riot almost broke out against Moses. Israel came to the oasis of Marah but were unable to drink the water because it was bitter. This tragedy led to further frustration and complaining.

The Moses Model (Exodus 15:25)

Moses went to the Lord with this situation. The model is remarkably simple. In crisis, we go to the Lord, as it is a test of our resolve, trust, and commitment to God. The scriptural precedents are clear, that in such a response to Him, He will never abandon us but grant us complete victory. Moses did what all Israel should have done. Going to God in desperate times is our only hope.

The role of Redemption in our life (Exodus 15:25) The Bitter water turned sweet by the tree

In his deliberation before the Lord, petitioning Him for a way out of this tragedy, The Lord showed him a tree to cut a branch and throw it into the water. The result was another miracle. The bitter water became sweet. The tree is a type of the cross. This entire scenario prefigures the death and resurrection of Jesus. Redemption provides a solution to all the bitter experiences in life.

The covenant of divine healing for Israel and all believers today (Exodus 15:25-26)

If Israel will listen to the Word of the Lord, meditate on the Word, and obey it on their part then God will provide protection from sickness and diseases on His part of the contract. In the case of sickness, He promised divine healing.

Believers in Christ have a divine assurance from the Lord of His protection and guidance from the challenges of life’s experiences. Our life is one of trust in the Lord. There are many challenges on a daily basis in our walk with the Lord. We must come to the place to realize that our victory lies not in human reasoning but rather complete faith and trust in the Lord.


Paul Mursalin is a member of the International Board of Barnabas Fund from Guyana

Photo contributed by Sweet Publishing

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