by Frans Bakker
And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. —Exodus 15:23
Israel rejoiced at the Red Sea for God’s wonderful deliverance. Now, three days later, they are staring death right in the face. They taste the bitter waters of Marah. This experience is no stranger to the church of the New Testament. When God’s people believed that the Lord had drawn them out of the slavery of sin, there was much gladness in the Lord. They had never known greater joy than when they believed that God had looked upon them in mercy. When the Lord turns darkness into light, who can change that light into darkness? God’s child then assumes that it will never be dark anymore and that it will continue like this for good. But when their way becomes dark, who will change their darkness into light? They think that it will never be light again.
The experiences at Marah can be so bitter. There is the bitterness of sickness, mourning, secret crosses, spiritual desertions, and so many other things of which we say, “I cannot drink it; I cannot bear it. It is too harsh. It is too much. It is too heavy to bear.” And still the God that brings suffering at Marah is the same God that brought blessing. It was not by chance that the water was so bitter. God Himself had made it like this.
In this manner God deals with His people. The Lord does not spare the flesh. After all, life’s journey is through the desert. There, God’s people who have been led by the Lord must be exposed to their own helplessness. They have to learn that on this journey they can only survive by divine wonders. They must learn that they cannot find anything in themselves except death, even when they stand close to a fountain of water. Otherwise God will not receive His glory. Only those who have learned to live by His miracles glorify the Lord.
From The Everlasting Word by Frans Bakker, compiled and translated by Gerald R. Procee. Reformation Heritage Books and Free Reformed Publications, 2007. Used by permission. For further information, click here.