On this day, Israel arrived at Elim where they discovered twelve springs and remained there for twenty days. This is recorded in Exodus 15.
“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees so they camped there by the waters.” (Exodus 15:27)
Yesterday we spoke of the bitter waters of Marah and the tendency people have to complain about their situation. In that particular situation, the issue was the lack of drinkable water. Just after that event, God led them into a strikingly different situation – an abundance of what they had previously lacked. Let’s read what God told them at Marah:
“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, 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.’”
The word “statute” is translated from a Hebrew word that speaks of instructions that are, according to Rabbinical interpretation, beyond human comprehension. In this particular case, the “statute” referred to a tree that Moses tossed into the bitter waters, which absorbed the bitterness and made the waters sweet. Obviously, there was something about that which was intended to teach the people an important lesson. Yet, if the Rabbis are correct on this, it is beyond our comprehension to ascertain. But, is it, really?
What happened there was a test and one that they apparently failed. The intended point was, if you do what is right in your own eyes, you’ll end up like the Egyptians. If you do what is right in My eyes, then what happened to the Egyptians won’t happen to you. Furthermore, He showed them that, not only could He deliver them through salty or bitter waters, but that He could deliver them from those bitter waters, as well.
In other words, there’s no limit to His power and authority. If He can perform the one miracle, why doubt Him for the other? If He delivered them from the plagues of Egypt, couldn’t He protect them in any and all situations? Could He not also provide for them in any and all situations? So through this we learn that man is tried by what God gives us, sometimes, by what He withholds from us. Here’s why: He said, “I am the LORD, your healer,” or literally, “your physician.”
Sometimes I like what my doctor prescribes for me. Oftentimes, I don’t like what he prescribes for me, but if I trust him and if I believe that he can help me to become whole, then I should do what he says, whether it’s doing this or abstaining from that. If God allows suffering to come upon His people, it’s not to destroy us. If He withholds what we think we need, it’s not to afflict us. Whatever suffering He allows, even if He brings us to a place of bitter waters, it is to test and see what’s in us and purge from us those unfruitful habits and sins, thus healing us.
Just after their near breakdown over the lack of water, He took them to a place where they were given an abundance of water. How many times have we missed out on going to Elim with the springs and the palms, because we decided to remain bitter, angry and frustrated over the events of Marah? Obviously, we don’t need to remain bitter and frustrated but must overcome those emotions that lead us to miss out on God-appointed opportunities. If we find ourselves at Marah, we need the breakthrough that leads us to Elim. May your Marah come to an end and may your breakthrough and your Elim come speedily.