Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin
Dispensation of the Mosaic Law.
The Jews Failed the Water Test at the Red Sea.
We have now spent enough time concerning the Jews and how they failed their first test which is theology known as the “Water Test” at the Red Sea. For they lived in fear of the Egyptians at this first Water Test, Exo 14:10.
Then they lived in fear of the Lord; Exo 14:31.
Next they lived in fear of Moses; Exo 14:31.
Then they entered into emotional revolt in Exo 15:1-21.
So they still have no doctrine and with no doctrine they will fail the next water test. At the Red Sea in Exo 14, they had too much water. We will see that at Marah beginning with Exo 15:22, they not only had a little water but this time it was the wrong kind of water.
Exo 15:22-25, 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 [this time] NO WATER. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 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.
It’s interesting because the word Marah means bitterness. What happens after you have had a great emotional experience and a great deliverance? What happens when you’ve expressed your emotions completely without any doctrinal reference? Without any general appreciation? Without any general capacity?
Well, according to this passage, you become very bitter! Now, these Jews, the children of Israel are very happy people with their moment of emotional stimulation….so what happens?
There is an opposite reaction now, a reaction called bitterness. They still have not grown up spiritually! They had adult bodies, but spiritually they had never grown up. They flunked the “Too Much Water Test”, at the Red Sea, now they are going to flunk the “Wrong kind of Water test,” where they had plenty of water but the wrong kind.
And this is a reminder once again to us, that if your life is governed by emotions, you will fail when the Lord brings in the different tests for the purpose of your spiritual advance. And one of the reasons that you will fail…is found in “The Waters of Marah Test” or the subject of bitterness.
So now in Exo 15:22, 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.
The wilderness will reveal the weakness of God’s people and their failure under pressure. However, there is a purpose in the Lord leading us to a wilderness or desert experience.
What is the purpose?
The purpose is to magnify the power and the mercy of the One who brought us to the place of testing. In times of testing and trial, God reveals what He is for us in bearing with our failures and mistakes.
Prin – The wilderness not only gives us a revelation of ourselves, but it also makes manifest the ways of God.
Exo 15:23, And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah.
Now, think of it, three days in the hot and sandy desert without finding any water and then you finally find water, but it is bitter. They thought that they found what they were looking for and then all of a sudden that which they found becomes a source of bitterness to them.
And so in Exo 15:24, here we go again, So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Once again they express their rebellion! So the people grumbled or muttered their discontent to Moses!
Grumbled is the Hebrew verb lun which means to murmur, to complain, to be mal-content, to express dissatisfaction. saying, or they kept on saying, What shall we drink? They speak as if Moses is the one responsible for their situation.
Because many believers look for someone to blame when the Lord leads them to a place like Marah (bitterness). Now, here is where we pick it up, what did Moses do? Remember that Moses is a man of doctrine! A man of doctrine will not allow people to let him down. A man of doctrine will not allow people to manipulate him. A man of doctrine will not listen to the judgmental criticism that comes from apostate believers. And the same goes for a woman with doctrine.
So Moses will rely on the Lord. He does not use his genius. He does not use his wisdom. The more you recognize doctrine the more that you recognize your own helplessness.
Before we look at what Moses does, let’s review some of the principles of the doctrine of bitterness.
Job 7:17-18, “What is man that You magnify him, And that You are concerned about him, That You do examine him every morning, And try him every moment?”
Now, this is a false statement because God is not doing this to Job, Satan is! Remember the conversation that Job had with God in Job 1 beginning in verse 6, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
Job 1:7-12, And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.”
Then again in Job 2:1-6, Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth, and walking around on it.”
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to ruin him without cause.” And Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Thy hand, now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse Thee to Thy face.” So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”
Back in Job 7:17-21, we see that Job is making a wrong conclusion and stating a wrong biblical fact when he says, “What is man that Thou dost magnify him, And that Thou art concerned about him, That Thou dost examine him every morning, And try him every moment? Wilt Thou never turn Thy gaze away from me, Nor let me alone until I swallow my spittle? Have I sinned? What have I done to Thee, O watcher of men? Why hast Thou set me as Thy target, So that I am a burden to myself? Why then dost Thou not pardon my transgression And take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust; And Thou wilt seek me, but I will not be.”
The point is that in JOB 7:18, God is not examining Job every morning and trying him every moment – Satan is! And so Job needs to understand where the attacks have come from which are not from God but from Satan even though he is blaming God for them. So, that’s a false statement, God doesn’t examine Job every morning and try every moment!
So what’s the problem?
The problem with Job at this point is the fact that he is double-minded and as Jam 1:8 says being a double�minded man, he is unstable in all his ways. Job has doctrine but he also has to beware of becoming bitter. Bitterness can come from the intensity of suffering in the mind and body or from something that is difficult to bear, something that causes animosity and reaction. Bitterness is inconsistent and irrational. It is a major cause of problems in any kind of human relationship.
Bitterness destroys the spiritual life. And suffering causes bitterness to people who do not understand problem-solving devices, principles, and give number one priority to relationship with God.
Sometimes people think that they are helping you when in reality they are ridiculing you and being critical…and always putting you down and judging you. And by the way, when they do that especially in front of their OWN children, they are abusing their very own children! That is not what the Bible says to do.
Here’s what it says beginning in Eph 4:29-32, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender�hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
In Lam 3, notice that the people ridiculed Jeremiah because of their bitterness toward him.
Lam 3:14-15, I have become a laughingstock to all my people, Their mocking song all the day. He has filled me with bitterness [Jeremiah has done this to himself] , He has made me drunk with wormwood.
Under the doctrine of typology, wormwood is used to represent bitterness. For example, in Deu 29:14-18, “Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here today (for you know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. Moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold, which they had with them); lest there shall be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; lest there shall be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.
Pro 5:1-4, My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion, And your lips may reserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, And smoother than oil is her speech; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two�edged sword.
In Jer 9:15, to the backslidden children of Israel we read, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.
Jer 23:15, “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem Pollution has gone forth into all the land.'”
Rev 8:10-11, And the third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.
Lam 3:14-32, I have become a laughingstock to all my people, Their mocking song all the day. He has filled me with bitterness [Jeremiah has done this to himself] , He has made me drunk with wormwood. And He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust. And my soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished, And so has my hope from the Lord.
Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he should bear The yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and be silent Since He has laid it on him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, Perhaps there is hope. Let him give his cheek to the smiter;
Let him be filled with reproach. For the Lord will not reject forever, For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion According to His abundant lovingkindness.”
Thinking like this is how we overcome bitterness. You see, when truth is taught, people react in bitterness. The bitter soul rejects Bible doctrine which is the only solution to bitterness.
Jam 3:14, But if you have bitter jealousy and strife in your right lobe, do not be arrogant and do not lie against the truth.
Bitterness and jealousy usually go together. A bitter person is a jealous person and causes strife. And when you are bitter, you actually tell yourself lies that are totally against the reality of doctrine and that’s what it means when it says–lying against the truth. And bitterness causes stress and complaining which is why Job said in 7:11, “Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the stress of my mind, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
Job would not restrain his mouth. The word anguish in Job 7:11 is the Hebrew noun tsar which means stress. Job has converted adversity into stress in the soul through the use of bitterness. And this also usually results in bitterness and complaining. The bitter soul is self-destructive. Bitterness motivates complaining and is self-destructive.
All people who habitually complain are bitter people and usually have no self-esteem. That’s because most people think they have a right to complain. And complaining becomes a habit to those who habitually think only of themselves.
If this continues long enough, then Job 10:1 occurs where Job literally said, “I loathe my own life; I will give full vent to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” Notice that you usually build up a self-righteous house of cards, and then you hate what you have done; including hating yourself.
Therefore, bitterness also motivates gossip and the creation of the public lie as Psa 64:3 says, “They have sharpened their tongue like a sword. They aimed their bitter speech like an arrow.”
So that the bitter soul is contagious and pollutes others as the writer of Heb 12:15 says when he says “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many are polluted.”
Grace-orientation and bitterness cannot co-exist.
Because a bitter soul is a troubled soul. And one bitter person contaminates many others in his or her periphery. And the contamination occurs when you either believe the garbage coming from the bitter soul or react to the bitterness of another person. You cannot be in the presence of a bitter soul and not react unless you have the spiritual strength to do so. Because you are just as bad as the person with bitterness, when you react to them.
When we react to a bitter or angry soul, we have failed as much as they have failed. So, you are defiled or polluted when you react to the bitterness in your own soul or the bitterness expressed by someone else. And the more things in life to which we react, the more things in life that cause us to react.