God is referred to many names in the Bible- each name describing a unique quality of His character. In Exodus 15, He is called, Jehovah-Rapha- which means, ‘the God that
heals.’ While the Israelites were traveling in the desert (that long, 40-year journey from Egypt to the Promised Land) they came to a town named Marah (which means ‘bitter’). There was water there, but it was bitter and undrinkable. Moses cried out to the Lord on behalf of the Israelites because they desperately needed water to drink. God then told Moses to throw a piece of wood into the bitter water. When he did, the waters became sweet! God heard their cry for help and provided for them. Just as the Lord healed and satisfied the thirst of the Israelites several thousands of years ago, He also wants to satisfy our thirsty souls and heal our hurts today.
Does your spiritual thirst need to be satisfied? Do you need forgiveness? Or do you need love to forgive someone else? Has a circumstance from your past made you bitter, discouraged or resentful? Hold on… there’s hope. Let’s start by first reading this passage from Exodus directly from the text:
22 ‘Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah.24 So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet.
There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. 26 And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.” (Exodus 15:22-26)
We see that the Lord healed His people. He also told them to ‘do what is right in His sight’ and obey His commands, and He would protect them from disease. When I read this passage, I can’t help but think of that other piece of wood that God used to heal us today- the wood that He used to nail His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to. This was His ultimate provision of healing- eternal and complete, spiritual healing!
‘And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.’ (I Peter 2:24)
God provided the healing, but He also gave it with instructions:
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (I John 1:9)
May the healing touch of that old rugged cross change your bitter waters of sorrow, pain and sin into sweet, life-giving water. He doesn’t just make it non-toxic and tolerable, he makes it SWEET! Drink up and be satisfied!
‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!’ (Psalm 34:8)
‘The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.’ (Rev 22:17)
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” (John Piper, desiringgod.org)
Some studies have shown that the type of wood that THE LORD instructed Moses to throw into the bitter waters was from a Mangrove tree. Here’s what it looks like and a little bit of information about the tree:
(The following is an excerpt from ‘Did the Mangrove Tree De-Salt Water?’ from ‘God As A Gardener’ blog):
‘Although there have been many books written on plants in the Bible, few authors suggested that the wood Moses threw into the water at Marah was from an actual tree. Of those authors, only Rabbi Louis Rabinowitz in Torah and Flora (1977) identified a possible source of the wood – a mangrove tree. The Avicennia marina is a species of mangrove tree that grows on the Sinai Peninsula near the Gulf of Aqaba and Red Sea. It is called the gray or white mangrove because of the color of its bark. The gray mangrove is both a pioneer and a relict species. Pioneer because it will be the first mangrove species that populates an area. Relict because it remains in an area after other mangrove species are extinct. The gray mangrove uses two mechanisms to extract salt from sea water. First, leaves have special salt glands that are among the most active salt-secreting systems known. Second, mangroves concentrate salt in the bark and in older leaves which carry salt with them when leaves drop. In normal circumstances, the process of trees extracting salt from water would take days; however, God was in the process as he was in the burning bush that was not consumed. When God is present, natural processes can become supernatural.’