LESSONS LEARNED AT LIFE’S BITTER POOLS
Exodus 15:22-27 (NKJV)
Bitter Waters Made Sweet
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. 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.
Very often life learning lessons is a bitter experience. Yet, while this is true, it is also true that experience is the best teacher.
Ill. You can tell a child repeatedly that fire, the stove, the kettle etc is hot, but they never really get it until they have been burned. When this happens, they can relate to what “hot” means. It is a lesson they will never forget as long as they live, but it was a bitter lesson to have to learn. Unfortunately, we all seem to possess this same characteristic like an innocent child. We have to be burned before we can learn!
In this passage, the nation of Israel is fresh from a great spiritual victory. They have been delivered from slavery in Egypt, they have been given a new life and they have witnessed God destroying their enemies in the depths of the Red Sea. Now, 3 days later, they are faced with a trial. After 3 days with no water, they come to a place called Marah. While they were there, they learned 3 valuable lessons. It is these three lessons that I want to focus on tonight.
It may be that someone here tonight is going through a time of trial. If so, in these verses, you will learn some good lessons if you will allow the Lord to teach them to you. If everything in your life is sailing along smoothly, then look out! One day soon, you will come to your own “Marah”. When this happens, you may need the lessons we can learn right here.
This evening, let’s step back in time and join Israel at Marah, and let’s think together on the subject, Lessons Learned At Life’s Bitter Pools.
I. THEY LEARNED SOME LESSONS ABOUT LIFE
A. Life Is A Mixture – (Ill. Israel had just experienced the blessing, but they must face the bitter as well. Then, as soon as this bitter time was past, they enjoyed a time of blessing, v. 22-23, 27.)
I suppose they, like a lot of people in our day assume that once you sign up to follow the Lord, everything is going to be perfect and that there will be no bumps in the road. Unfortunately, this is just faulty thinking!
According to God’s Word, life is a mixture of good and bad – Job 14:1; Job 5:7; Eccl. 2:17; 23. While this outlook may seem depressing, we are also aware that life has it’s wonderful moments as well.
(Ill. The birth of a child, falling in love, etc.) This is a lesson worth remembering! When you are aware that life can go either way, then you are prepared for either.
B. Life Has A Master – (Ill. When Israel arrived at Marah, they seemed to forget all the wonderful things God had done for them. They forgot about the plagues in Egypt, their deliverance, the miracle at the Red Sea. They forgot that up until that time, the Lord had been in absolute control. They forgot that God is Master of life. Both of the good times and the bad.) Sounds a lot like us doesn’t it?
We will cruise through life enjoying the Lord’s blessings and many times we will take them for granted! But, just let a difficulty come and we wring our hands, hang our heads in defeat and worry about what to do! We forget that the same God who was in control in the good days is still on the throne in the bad days! He is in charge of all of life – Rom. 8:28!
(Ill. The Disciples on the boat, John 6:1-21. They rejoiced in His miracles, but when the storm came, they forgot what they had just seen Him do.) Sounds just like us, doesn’t it?
C. Life Has A Ministry – (Ill. God used these times, both good and bad, to minister to the Israelites. What they learned about God in both of these times of life, shaped their perception of who God was and what He could do for them.)
The same is true for us. Every situation in life serves as ministry of the Lord to us. He uses all the times of life to shape us in His image. (Ill. Just as a child is the product of his/her environment, so the Christian is a product of the situations he faces in his life with God.) In all of life, God is simply trying to make us more like Him – Eph. 4:13.
II. THEY LEARNED SOME LESSONS ABOUT THEMSELVES
(Ill. Life is like a giant laboratory. Every experience, whether good or bad, x-rays our heart and reveals us exactly as we are. This bitter time at Marah revealed certain characteristics about the Israelites that they probably would rather have not known. However, I am afraid that we are just as guilty of some of these same things. Let’s face it, you can learn a lot about yourself when the bottom falls out of your life!) They learned:
A. They Were Living For Self – (Ill. They were only concerned with their bodily physical satisfaction. Forgotten were the great things God had just recently done in their lives. Instead of being caught up in His wonder, glory and worship, they were totally consumed with their personal needs!) Does this sound familiar you?
When we get into a tight spot, we seem to forget the greatness of God and our world suddenly gets very small. We tighten the boundaries of our lives until we are the centerpiece and the focus of every thought and motive. We must remember that God doesn’t want us living for self and selfish needs. He wants us to live for Him! When we do, He has promised to take care of life’s trials – Matt. 6:33!
B. They Were Walking By Sight – (Ill. Israel was guilty of looking for satisfaction in the world around them, instead of the God who bought them. Then, when their expectations failed them, they became disappointed with God.) How many times have we been guilty of the same thing? We expect some thing, some job, someone to make us happy and all the time, we never look for joy in the one place where it will always be found – even in the bitter times of life! (Ill. Neh. 8:10; Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:4)
Our duty as believers is to learn to depend on the Lord, completely and totally, for every situation in life. We are to be a people of faith, Rom. 1:17. When we step outside of faith and walk by sight, we have left God’s best and have entered sin – Rom. 14:23.
C. They Were Never Satisfied – (Ill. These people, just 3 days before, had seen the Lord destroy the greatest army (of Egypt) in the world! They had seen God part a great sea and deliver them. Then they had seen Him take that same sea and use it to defeat their enemies.
When these things happened, they opened their mouths and praised the Lord in songs. Now they are standing by a pool of bitter water, complaining because the Lord didn’t do it their way, in their time!)
How it is like us! When we are up on the mountain, we can be so quick to glorify God and even stand publicly and give Him thanks. However, just let a little trial come our way and we whine, gripe and complain about the terrible time we are having to go through. Isn’t that silly?
Sure it is! God’s plan for our lives is that we learn to give Him glory in every situation life throws at us. If we are on the mountain, then praise Him for His blessings! If we are in the valley, then praise Him for His faithfulness. Whatever we face in life, we are to praise His Name – (Ill. Eph. 5:20; 1 Thes. 5:18; Phil. 4:6) (Ill. Job and his attitude – Job 1:21) (Ill. David – Psa. 34:1)
(Ill. Testimony – A lady had a serious bout with cancer. God healed her and she said, “Thank God, for several months under chemo therapy, I didn’t have to shave my legs at all!” Now there is an attitude of gratitude!
III. THEY LEARNED SOME LESSONS ABOUT THE LORD
A. He Is Aware Of Our Needs – (Ill. God knew what they would face at Marah. God, Himself had planned their journey. He knew about their need before they did!) Ill. Nothing in your life takes God by surprise! He is already in our tomorrow and He knows what you will face when you get there, Matt. 6:32. He knows of that sickness you have yet to develop. He knows of your grief while the one you are grieving still lives. He knows about that bill that has yet to be mailed. I am glad I serve a God who knows what I need before I ever need it. He is aware!
B. He Is Able To Meet Our Need – (Ill. Moses was commanded to cast a tree into the waters and, when he did, they were made sweet. God, in His wisdom, had already prepared that tree for the meeting of their need. When they arrived, He was ready. He manifested His power and they got what they needed from the Lord.)
Ill. He is able to meet our need as well! When man was placed on this earth, he had no needs. God placed a perfect man into a perfect world. There, in the garden, Adam had everything he could possibly need. Yet, when man sinned, he became a needy creature. Not only did he need salvation, he also needed the very basic essentials of life itself.
When Jesus came and died on Calvary, He repaired everything Adam had destroyed. Through His death on that tree, He was able to make the bitter waters of life sweet again! Through His death on the cross, we find everything we need to have our needs met. When we are in a right relationship with God, through the shed blood of Jesus, we are in a position to have every need of life met by His power.
Through the cross of Jesus Christ, the bitter waters of life are made sweet again! Through the cross, God is able to meet our need. Not only of salvation, but in every area of life. The cross unlocks His power in our lives. (Ill. God is abundantly able to meet any need you face as you go through the bitter times of your life – Phil. 4:19; Eph. 3:20; Psa. 50:10-15).
C. He Has Already Provided For Our Need – (Ill. Years before Israel arrived at Marah, God caused a seed to germinate and became a tree to be used by HIM in the very place where they would need it. He looked ahead and prepared a way before a way was ever needed.)
Ill. He does the same for us! Did you ever realize that your need, as frightening as it may be, is only the evidence of God’s supply in waiting? (Phil. 4:19) You will never face a need in life that God hasn’t already met! If that ever sinks in, it will change our lives forever. It will totally destroy worry, doubt and fear. It will liberate us from selfish interests and give us peace about all of life!
At Marah, God revealed Himself to Israel as “Jehovah-Rapha”, or “The Lord Your Healer.” If Israel had never faced this bitter time, they would have never known this aspect of God’s character.
Just as Job would have never known that God could restore him unless he first lost everything.
Just as Lazarus would not have know the joy of life, if he hadn’t did. Mary and Martha would not have known that Jesus was the “Resurrection and the Life” unless they had first known grief.
What I am saying is that the Lord uses the bitter episodes of life to reveal Himself more fully to His children.
When we stand at the bitter waters of our Marah’s, and we will, God help us to know that He is on His throne and that He is in control. God help us to look for His hand and His waiting provision. If you are like me, these are lessons which need to be taken to heart tonight.
If you are struggling tonight, I beg you to bring it to Jesus. When you take the witches brew of your life, with all of it’s goods and bad’s, and place them all at the cross of Jesus Christ, it will all straightens out! He can make sense of any mess.
The key is learning not to kick, but to rest in His power and to allow Him to have His way in your life. Is there a need that needs to be brought to the cross tonight? If so, then now is the time!
Praise the Lord!