Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Waters of Marah

While camped at Marah, just three days after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the children of Israel began to complain to Moses because the water was bitter to the taste.  All they could think about was their thirst, and forgetting the power God had manifest in their behalf when He parted the Sea and allowed them not only to cross but to cross on dry ground, they murmured against God thinking He had now forsaken them.

You and I are also wandering in a wilderness called life where some days we experience miracles and other days trials. Is our memory so short that three days past the good all we can see is the bad? Marah means bitter and it was named that because of the water there, but it more aptly fits the people and their attitudes.  They forgot how the Lord had delivered them and chose to be bitter instead of grateful. But instead of murmuring, Moses turned to the Lord and asked how to solve the problem. The Lord showed Moses a tree and told him to cast the tree into the water. Moses did as he was commanded and the water became sweet to the taste.

There is so much symbolism in that story for all of us to learn from.  The cross of the Atonement is often called a tree, and the Lord was teaching the people that the bitterness of life could be made sweet through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Moses tells us that this was a test for the people and that they were then told, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).

The bitter experiences of life are a test for all of us. Will we murmur against the Lord because of the bitterness or will we trust in the Lord? If we trust the Lord will heal us and protect us from the “diseases” of the world.

After leaving Marah, Moses led the people to Elim, which means palms.  We are told that there were twelve wells of water in Elim and 70 palm trees.  Twelve is a symbol of priesthood and it is through the priesthood that the living water of the gospel (the covenants) is administered to mankind. Seventy is a symbol of perfection or completion and palms are a symbol victory. So the people were guided out of the place of bitterness to a place where the priesthood could complete them (through the covenants) and bring them to victory.

It is a given that we will encounter bitterness as we travel this wilderness called mortality, but if we diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord, He will lead us to victory and through the Atonement heal us of the bitter experiences we encounter along the way.


Wendi said...

I absolutely love the symbolism in this post. Thank you for sharing your insights. :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, Thank you! You are so kind.

Cathy said...

Wow, I love this. It is so beautiful. I am amazed at all the symbolisms contained in the scriptures and I am amazed at how much God loves us and can use one person (like you) to touch the lives of so many people by opening our eyes to these things. Thank you Sherrie.