Bitter waters and an oasis are the context in which the Israelites find themselves following the great crossing of the Red Sea. Is it not ironic that the Israelites, having just experienced the miraculous salvation of God, are now found grumbling? Doesn’t that describe the lives of many Christians? Even though we are saved, there is still a part of us that can’t trust our Lord but instead grumbles about our circumstances. But the story is an affirmation of God’s concern and provision even to his less than thankful subjects. God directs Moses to perform a miracle that brings about sweetness in the water.
Such is the case for the Christian, our Lord continues to work in our life and turn the bitter into sweet because of Christ’s conquest of death. Regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, the Christian must always look at the cross which can provide sweetness to life. The cross is always the story which brings back to our life the nature of redemption and God’s continuing care. But unlike the wood and provision God made at Marah with a command to obey or suffer the diseases of Egypt, our Lord Jesus’ death on the cross takes all of God’s wrath and punishment for our disobedience and ensures that we will always find ourselves in a garden oasis like Elim.
At Elim the nation camped with 12 springs, one for each tribe and found themselves under 70 palm trees one for every person who had originally gone into Egypt. At Elim, the people found themselves near the water which sustained a bountiful life in the desert and that is the very proclamation our Lord Jesus makes when he declares,
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21:6)
As we go through life let us always look at the cross to remember there is nothing worth grumbling about, our Lord has paid the cost and secured our freedom, but also let us look forward to the complete life-sustaining water which is offered int he present.