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  • Writer's pictureAlan Fong

A Bittersweet Experience

And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, ~Exodus 15:25


There is a vegetable in the melon family that is known as “bitter melon.” It derived its name from the fact that it has a bitter taste to it. No matter how it is cooked, the bitterness does not go away. Those who enjoy eating it acquire a taste for it and over time are not bothered by the bitter taste. This morning, we want to consider a moment in Israel’s past that is considered bittersweet. It was a time when bitter water was made sweet.

We see Israel and their arrival.

Just three days before, they had experienced a miraculous and powerful demonstration of God’s hand upon them through the crossing of the Red Sea. They celebrated this victory in song and testimony to the Lord. Then, they journeyed into the wilderness of Shur for three days and found no water. We must remember that the victories that God gives us are vital lessons for our future. We cannot stay at the Red Sea victories forever. We must continue going forward in the walk of faith. The walk of faith brings us to new locations and new experiences to test our faith. When your water source appears to go dry, what will you do?

We see Israel and their ascription.

They continued on and came to a water source. The first thought that everyone had was, “Finally! We found water!” However, when the water touched their mouths, there was an acrid and bitter taste to it. The water source that they came to was undrinkable! The water was bitter and was called “Marah” for “bitter.” “Marah” is a strong word in Hebrew that refers to the bitterness of a life or location. Naomi, upon her return to Bethlehem, told the people to call her “bitter”, or “Marah”, because she said the hand of the Lord was against her. A death, disease, disablement, defamation, or disappointing experience has left many people with a bitter taste in their mouth. It is a taste that is unmistakable and never to be forgotten. Many lives are consumed and destroyed by bitterness. People complain, become critical, avoid contact, and contaminate others around them. Have you arrived at a location in your life that has made you bitter? Are you like the Israelites and crying out, “What shall we drink?”

We see Israel and their antidote.

First, there is the antidote of the cross. Moses was told by God to cut down a tree and to cast it in the waters. When he did so, the waters were made sweet. The tree is a picture of the cross. Don’t let the bitterness in life overtake you: nail the bitterness to the cross, and die to self. Let the power of the cross cover your sin. Second, there is the antidote of compliance. There, Moses made a statute and ordinance for them to diligently obey. A faithful life is an obedient life. They tried to journey in their power and wisdom when, in fact, they needed the Word of God to lead them. Every victory is to be followed by greater obedience on our part. Third, there is the antidote of commitment. There, the Lord proved them. God used the combination of the lack of water and the loathing of water to teach them that He is the Lord of the water. He showed them how small their faith really was. God has to bring us through bitter waters to show us how weak and needy we are.

Let God make the bitter waters in your life sweet. The walk of faith demands practices that are completely dependent upon the Lord at all times. When the bitter arises, remember to cast the tree into those waters to make them sweet.

Have a sweetened God Morning!

Bible Reading Schedule: 2 Samuel 1-3

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