Water in the Wilderness

Exodus 15:23-27

1. No Water
at Shur

    1. The wilderness:
Etham (Ex. 13:20) means "gravel"; Shur (Ex. 15:22) means "a rampart" or a place
of observation. What is the wilderness? It is a place marked by a poverty of
resources and where there is virtually no place to hide. So the wilderness was
a test on two counts: it revealed to Israel the sufficiency of God when we only
have Him. It also revealed what was in Israel's heart. There God "proved" Israel
at Marah and Meribah.

    2. The journey: three
days. Had passed through death, burial, and resurrection in a figure. Now learn
it practically. God seeks to bring us into conformity with new position: dead
to sin, Rom. 6:7,14; to law, Rom. 7:6, margin; to world (Gal. 6:14).

    3. The trial: no
water (15:22). "Every spring of earth is dried up for those who have been redeemed
from Egypt."

2. Bitter Water at Marah

    1. Marah means "bitter"
(15:23). This is the same word as Miriam, or Mary. See Ruth 1:20. This was probably
ground water made bitter by the Red Sea. Israel was brought dry shod through
the sea; they are now made to drink of it. Such is the offense of the cross (Gal. 5:11).

    2. Murmuring (15:24).
Why was there nothing like this in Egypt? Although directed to Moses, it was
really against the Lord.

3. Sweet Water

    1. The Tree. Fellowship
with Christ in sufferings of the cross. (See Phil. 3:10). Note that it was:

a. Pointed
out by the Lord (v. 25). This solution was not man's idea.

b. Cast into the waters (v. 25), i.e., applied directly to the source
of the problem.

c. The waters were made sweet (v. 25). So the Lord provides "exceeding
abundantly above" our need (Eph. 3:20). In the bitter experiences of life
we are tempted to question the love of God and murmur against Him. It is then
He shows us the Tree and by it how much He loves us.

    2. The Healer. He
who healed the waters is also the Healer of His people.

a. Separation
from Egypt. "Diligently hearken," etc. (v. 26).

b. The diseases of Egypt. "I will put none of these diseases" (v. 26).

4. Wells
of Water at Elim

At Elim, God provided for
the consolation of His people--shelter, rest, shade (15:27).

    1. Twelve wells of water.
The number twelve suggests the ideas of administration and government. Recall
there were twelve tribes (Gen. 49:28), twelve apostles (Mt. 10:2-5, 1 Cor. 4:9, Rev. 21:14), and twelve thrones (Mt. 19:28).

    2. The seventy palm trees
might suggest the fullness of this ministry (see also Lk. 10:1-17).