The war is raging right now and God, through Christ, has given us the victory over the devil. With that in view, however, understand that in your personal battles, you can lose the very joy that strengthened you through them. (Neh 8:10) Without the joy of the Lord, we face the real possibility of becoming bitter. Warfare left unchecked can do that to any of us.
Look in the rear view mirror of your spirit and then do a head check to make sure you’re not missing any blind spots. Head checks have saved me many an accident, and they can you as well. Christ is our Head and if you check with Him, He’ll help you to see if you’re missing anything. If, in your head check, you find that bitterness has crept in, I offer this short word on bitter waters for your encouragement.
I am the Lord that Heals… Exodus 15:22-27
If I were to ask you where it is in the Bible that God first reveals Himself as the God Who heals us, what would you say? If you’re like most people (including myself), you might be looking for a place in the Scripture where God makes a lame man walk, heals a leper, opens up blind eyes or cures a disease. However, the revelation is not found in any of these passages.When God mentions something for the first time in the Scriptures, take note. It’s important! This is called the Law of First Mention and God is purposefully making an emphasized point. For instance, when Abraham offers up Isaac on Mt. Moriah, God, for the first time, reveals Himself as Jehovah-Jireh, God our provider. From that point forward, we understand that God has declared Himself to be our provider, and therefore, we can trust Him to meet our needs. So, where does God first mention Himself to be healer? It is at the waters of Marah that God, for the first and only time, declares Himself to be Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord that heals you.
To give context and a quick background reference (Ex 15), Moses has just led the children of Israel out of Egypt and they are three days into the wilderness journey and are thirsty. This is a big problem given that there are potentially as many as three million people who all need water. They come to Marah and upon seeing the water, they are ready to quench their thirst – only to find out that the waters are bitter. With that, bitterness sets into the people and they become as bitter as the water itself.
As odd as it may seem, it is here that the revelation of God the Healer unfolds. Why here? Because things had become bitter – not just with the water, but with the people as well. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” (Ex 15:23-24)
How Bitterness is Revealed
“So the people grumbled…” The whole situation needed to be made sweet – both the water and the people. One of the most telling indications of a bitter heart is a negative spirit that expresses itself by grumbling and complaining. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45(b)NIV)
Jesus said that out of our bellies would flow rivers of Living Water. (Jn 7:38) Living water is sweet water, water that people would want to drink. I just installed an RO water system in our house but one of the valves in the system was bad. We knew something was wrong with the water after the first sip because it left a bitter taste in our mouth. This is NOT the way it is supposed to be when people come to drink from our reservoir. They are to leave our presence saying, “That was really good-tasting water. I’d like to have more of that!”
How God Deals with Bitterness
How does God deal with bitterness? In this instance, He instructed Moses to throw a stick into the bitter water and, as a result, it became sweet. I believe the stick, or branch, represented the cross and it’s power to make something bitter become sweet again. The water immediately became drinkable, the people were satisfied and the complaining stopped, at least for the moment.
You see, God really is the God Who heals us. But often, His healing occurs in places in our hearts and lives where we don’t necessarily think we need healing. God is first mentioned as healer in the context of this story, I believe, because of its association with bitterness. God is much more interested in our hearts being healed and made “right” than any other type of healing. Many times our physical healing naturally follows when bitterness is dealt with. But, what good would it do to heal some portion of our body if our hearts were still filled with bitterness and unforgiveness? Unforgiveness will keep us out of heaven – being lame, blind, deaf, or suffering from various diseases won’t. So, God’s first priority is always our heart and dealing with our needs there. Can God heal our bodies too? Yes, without question! Albeit, He must have first place in our hearts.
The Stick is the Cross
God Will Heal You Right Now
“Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” (Ex 15:25) Moses cried out to God and if you do the same, He will heal you right now. Just offer your bitterness or unforgiveness (they usually go hand in hand) to Him now.
You could pray like this, “Dear Father, I realize that I have been a bitter person. My tongue and the things I say have given me away and I am sorry. I ask for the forgiveness You offered me on the cross. Make my heart sweet and fill me with Your love for all people. I will begin by testifying of Your loving forgiveness to others. Amen”