Healing the bitter water

Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water. Exodus 15:22-27

After a great victory like parting the Red Sea and destroying Pharaoh’s army, you might think that life will be full of miracles. And it may be. Those miracles may come to save you from apparent danger, however. It is in that danger that God tests our faith. “Don’t you remember what I’ve done for you?”

Like the Israelites, we also grumble and complain. We are inconvenienced by temporary suffering, and cry out in frustration, even though we have been given the gift of eternal life.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. -Romans 8:18

So, chin up, little flock. Our life is but a vapor. Our present troubles are less than that.

What have you done for us lately?

When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:10-14

Moses is the one God has been talking to, so the people can not be expected to have the same confidence. They have been slaves, doing the bidding of Egypt. Moses has never been a slave. He was raised to be a prince of Egypt, even though he’s been on the most wanted list for 40 years.

This is why the prophet is, and always has been, important to God’s people. Most are busy living their lives, unable to see the forest because of the trees. The prophet sees what God shows him. And God sees the forest. He gives the word of the Lord as He wills it.

We still need people like this. It is not enough to know the book. The Pharisees knew the book, but rejected John the Baptist, the prophet who knew what page he was on. Then they rejected Jesus, the living word.

The Law of the Land

“When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord‘s. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:11-16

God’s plan was to rescue the children of Israel, lead them to the promised Land, and that is where they would begin to establish His laws. That is why He tells them to start holding this annual feast of the Passover when they get to the promised land. Unfortunately, the people will rebel in a later chapter, and not enter the land. But that will not exempt them from celebrating their deliverance from Egypt. It is so important that this annual memorial is held that it will be done before God’s plan is executed as ordered.

Likewise, we have been redeemed, as the first born sons, by the substitutionary death of the lamb. And we are all to remember this with the annual Passover feast. And we are to receive the promises of God. Even if we fail to walk in those promises, we are still His sons, male and female alike, if we remember Him and what He did for us. If we forget Him, we are cut off. If we hold fast to Him, we are always His children, even if we do not experience our promised land, which is out life here on Earth, not in heaven.

Keeping the Passover Today

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:14-21

There are some believers who hold to the idea that the Passover is a required feast today. It is certainly a good memorial, as verse 14 says, and a nice coincidence since this is Memorial Day. But 1 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that Christ is our Passover, and He was a one time sacrifice, unlike other old testament sacrifices that prefigured Jesus’ death. So, does that make the Passover irrelevant to us today?

The sacrifice of the Passover lamb is a symbol of the death that would set us all free, but the annual celebration had more rules to fulfill, or you would be cut off from Israel. I believe these are symbolic of the Christian life. We are to remain faithful, not to a to do list, but to Christ Himself. Even after we have believed, it is possible to lose our love for Him. There could be found in us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Hebrews 3:12).

The Last Plague

Death of the Pharaoh’s Firstborn Son. Artist: Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912) Rijksmuseum

So Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:4-9

This will be the last straw for Pharaoh. He will finally let the Hebrews go, at the cost of his own son, and all the first born of Egypt. It does beg the question, does it take an exercise of God’s will to make someone this stubborn and stupid? Or are we naturally this way? We may find the answer in the book of Romans, chapter 1, verses 26-32.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

I guess this makes our perverse disobedience a normal thing for is, from which we need to be saved.