Bitter to Sweet
“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,” Exodus 15:25 NKJV
The Israelites had just seen God deliver them supernaturally from the hands of the Egyptians at the Red Sea. They had passed over on dry land and then the waters closed in on the Egyptians when they attempted to cross. Israel witnessed God’s faithfulness and His miraculous power on their behalf. But then within three days of seeing the Hand of God go before them, they are grumbling and complaining because they have been without water. Just that quickly they turned their hearts from the Lord. They had just seen God destroy their enemies and deliver them and yet at the first sign of struggle they doubt that God will deliver them.
Sadly too often this is a picture of us. We experience God’s love, faithfulness and the power of His Word and promises to us. But then at the next sign of trouble, we have forgotten how good the Lord is because of His great love for us and we have already dismissed what amazing things we have already seen Him do on our behalf.
As we look back at the story of Israel without water in the wilderness we learn that they had found water at Marah. Again they were disappointed as the water was “bitter” or poisonous. So the people complained to Moses because they had nothing to drink.
In our live disappointments will come as well. Disappointments can lead us to doubt that Jesus will deliver us. When we give ourselves over to this kind of doubt, it becomes bitter or poison to us just as it was to the Israelites.
But then in verse 25 above we see Moses throw the tree of the Lord into the water that was bitter and it turned sweet and drinkable for the people. This was a precursor to Jesus on the tree of His crucifixion.
The cross that Jesus was hung on for us was called a tree. On that tree, Jesus took the poison of sin and death on our behalf. He defeated the hold of sin in our lives. Now we have the sweetness and life that is ours through Jesus. Jesus is the water of life, so let’s learn the lesson the Israelites failed to learn in the desert. Even in difficult times when things appear bad, put your confidence in Jesus and trust Him. Rather than giving yourself over to complaining, praise Him in those moments. Praise builds our faith while complaining is poison to our souls.
J Todd Hostetler