In Exodus 15, we follow the journey of God's people who came out of the slavery of Egypt to the promised land. When they met difficult circumstances we see what was in their heart - all the "fruit" of bitterness. If the fruit is there, the root is there. Test yourself. Do you think like a slave or a son? We can focus on injustice and choose to be bitter, or respond to God's provision and embrace grace.
We’re going to look in Exodus chapter 15. We did a story out of the Old Testament just last session, it was a different one. A different one, but it’ll point to the same person – Jesus Christ. So, we’re going to read in Exodus 15: 22-26.
“22So 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.” A desert, no water – that’s a big problem.
23 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. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 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. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.”
So, this story is the story of bitter waters made sweet. I want to speak about the root of bitterness. I was in Singapore one time, and a young man came up on an alter call and he had a very severe pain in one shoulder. He came up on a word of knowledge – God show me a particular pain. As he came up, I felt the Lord showed me he had bitterness in his heart towards his father. The problem was not just a physical pain, it was a spirit of infirmity.
So, I spoke with him – said, “How do you get on with your father?” He said – “Well I love my father.” Then I listened to the Lord again, I said “Isn’t it true that your father is away a lot of the time? He’s been away for all the important events in your life, and that actually, you’ve become angry and bitter at him.” He bowed his head, and said “That’s true.” I said: “What’s happened, is your bitterness has opened a door in your life for a spirit of infirmity. You are sick in your body because you are sick in your heart, and you have power to make a decision over the sickness in your heart. You can choose to forgive. You can bring grace into the situation instead of judgement.”
So, he prayed a simple prayer and forgave his father. I commanded the spirit of infirmity to come out, and immediately, he was set free. Then he told me, “Actually, I had pain not only in my shoulder, I had pain all over my body.” He said: “All of the pain is gone. The doctor had just told me last week my back in stiffening and by the age of 40, I can never bend.” Then he bent over, and he was quite free.
Here was a young man who had a life-threatening disease. The cause was a spirit of infirmity, and what lay at the root of it was bitterness living in his heart. When he dealt with the bitterness, came to the cross of Jesus Christ, and forgave, he himself was delivered and set free.
Now, we’re going to have a look at this story here in Exodus 15. This is a story from the Old Testament, and it’s a picture for us about spiritual truth. Sometimes spiritual things aren’t easy to understand or see. It’s hard to get words for it. So, all through the Old Testament, there are stories of God interacting with people, and when God interacts with people, there’s something we can learn from the interaction.
So, this is a story of the people of Israel, and they had been in bondage in Egypt for 400 years. They lived as slaves. Their life was very hard. They were beaten, they were abused. Their young male children at one point were put to death. They were forced into slave labour. They lived a very hard, difficult life, and it had been like that for 400 years. As long as anyone remembered, they had been in bondage, serving the Egyptians. The Egyptians were very hard taskmasters, and they beat them and whipped them, and abused them. So, their life was incredibly difficult until God delivered them.