Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I am the Lord who heals you...Promises for the Wilderness #17

The second wilderness test (Exodus 15):  refining...
Processed with two layers of Kim Klassen's 1111-unscripted at "overlay" blend mode.

After seeing the army of Pharoah defeated by the Lord at the Red Sea, the small nation travels for three days in this wilderness, led by God Himself.  He is leading them to the beauty and provision of the palm grove of Elim, but it is necessary in God's plans that they pass by Marah on the way...

It is at Marah that the test comes - this is the first water they have come to since the Red Sea, and they need water.  It could be that the nation has been fasting for these three days, but we don't know for sure.  If they had been fasting, they are at the end of the human body's ability to survive.  The water at Marah feels necessary, but it is bitter...

How many times do we drink from the cup of bitterness, believing it to be "necessary"?
How long have we pushed down* feelings of anger, fear, worry, stress because we haven't been free to express these strong emotions? 

The "root of bitterness" defiles.  In other words, it corrupts what it touches, making it "unclean" or "unholy".  God has called Israel to be a holy nation, but He knows the years of slavery have produced roots of bitterness in their hearts.  If left hidden, these roots will continue to spring up and hinder their spiritual growth; for us today, that means that the springs of living water that flow out of our hearts when we are saved would become bitter from the root of bitterness if left untouched. 

But the bitter waters of Marah are made sweet by a simple tree being thrown in...a picture of the work of the Cross. When we bring our hurts, angers, fears, etc. to the foot of the cross, the place of death, the intense emotions can be released, the original wounds healed, our memories neutralized, they become part of our testimony and can become a source of encouragement to others having experienced the same things, instead of continuing to spread defilement in our lives and those around us.

Here at Marah God issues a command and a promise; the verse says it is a form of testing - of "proving" or "assaying".  Think of this type of testing as a refining, a cleansing of impurities...the new nation was out of Egypt, but Egypt has to be cleansed out of the nation. 
"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."                                                                 Exodus 15:25
Modern medical research has confirmed that bitterness is the source of many physical, emotional and behavioral problems. (See here and here and follow the links).  Tho' modern medicine gives good steps to forgive and reduce our bitterness and stress, only obeying the Lord's command here carries the promise of "none of these diseases".

After the work at Marah, the Lord finishes leading them to Elim where there are 12 springs of water and 70 date palms.  Here they can rest.  God has accomplished all that is needed for the Israelites to move ahead in their journey with Him...He has delivered them from slavery, and has healed them.

This camp at Elim is a beautiful picture of the Sabbath rest that God intends for His children. Simply put, the symbolism** of this place at Elim is an Old Testament type and word picture that encompasses these two New Testament truths:

 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"  John 7:38
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellenc,... 2 Peter 1:3-8 

The wilderness is a place the Lord has prepared a place of rest.  And as we journey, it is by His design that we be released from bitterness, receive healing, and learn to live stress free as we develop trust in His provision.  I want that...how about you?

* The word "bitter" is derived from another meaning "to press; press down".  What a good picture of how bitterness develops - by pressing down emotion that really needs to be expressed appropriately!
(This is the needed work of so much counseling!)

There are 4 symbolic numbers designated as "perfect" numbers when it comes to Biblical types and symbols...3, 7, 10 and 12.  This one verse contains each perfect number, reinforcing the idea that there is nothing to be added to what the Lord has provided.

Palms represent "flourishing" (and more!)
Seventy is another combination of two of the perfect numbers, 7 and 10. Hence 7 x 10 signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual powerNothing is lacking; the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete. 
Twelve is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection.  In other words, fully under the Holy Spirit's control/rule.
Springs refer to the flow of Holy Spirit life coming from our inmost being after receiving Jesus as Savior.  It is a life that cannot be constructed by one's own power, but comes from a deep, unseen source.