GOD always has a SOLUTION available ‘CLOSE’ to us: "So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet." (Exodus 15:22-25)
The experience of the Israelites passing through the Red Sea is compared to water baptism that God has commanded for the New Testament Israelites: "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Cor. 10:1-2). If that is the case, then God desires that His children go through a testing period in the wilderness as He did with the Israelites as they started their journey.
In the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, right after his baptism in the Jordan River, He was also led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to go through a period of hunger, thirst and temptation. "Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry" (Luke 4:1-2). However, through the Word of God, Jesus overcame the temptation to take the easy alternative offered by Satan, to satisfy His hunger.
This was not so in the case of the Israelites. After experiencing a great miracle from God at the Red Sea, the Israelites may have thought that their ongoing journey to the Promised Land would be smooth and uneventful. However, we read that they were led by God into the Wilderness of Shur, where they spent over three days without a drop of water. God was testing the Israelites to see if they would trust Him for a miracle to supply them with water to drink! The Israelites arrived at Marah only to discover that the water was too bitter for them to drink and quench their thirst. Instead of calling out to God for help, they complained against Moses, asking him to provide them with good water to drink!
Moses then cried out to God, who showed him a tree standing nearby. When Moses immersed that tree in the bitter waters of Marah, it became sweet enough for the people to drink! God already had a solution available close by that was readily accessible for use in this situation! We can see other instances when a solution to a problem is available close by, and God graciously provides it to His people. Three real-life examples are listed below:
- When Hagar and Ishmael were about to die in the Wilderness of Beersheba, and God heard the prayers of Ishmael and provided them water in the desert. "Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer." (Gen. 21:19-20)
- When Abraham found His ‘lamb for the burnt offering’ (Gen. 22:7-8) that he could kill instead of his beloved son Isaac. "Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son." (Gen. 22:13)
- When God opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant so that he could see the heavenly army sent down to fight on their behalf. “And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).