People have many burdens in their lives. Whether it is heavy or light, a burden is a nuisance. There are many who cannot handle their frustration, agony, resentment, and such that they sometimes take their lives into their won hands. That's why our Lord invites all those who are suffering under heavy burdens of life to Him, saying, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. The Wilderness of Shur and Marah represents reality of lives that are heavy-laden under burdens of life. If you are heavy-laden with this kind of burden, I pray that we can hear this message and give all our burdens to the Lord today.
1. The barrenness of Shur and the bitter sufferings of Marah
In Hebrew, Shur means Hard boulder and Marah means bitterness or suffering. In this story of the Israelites encountering the bitter water of Marah in the Wilderness of Shur, the wilderness and the bitter water of Marah represent our life in this world. The Wilderness of Shur is a desert where there is nothing but dust. It is a place where there is no shade to avoid the scorching heat of the sun. Marah describes the reality of bitter and distressing life. Those who are suffering from a disease cry in the bitterness and pain of that sickness. Those who lost their fortune suffer from bitterness also. One finds bitterness of Shur and Marah when they do not receive what they deserve as a result of hard work. Even luxuries and comfort of the world are Wilderness of Shur and Marah. Although one may obtain a high position and gain much authority, he will realize that they will eventually become bitter water of Marah.
In today's passage, the people of Israel came into the Wilderness of Shur after crossing the Red Sea. They looked for water for 3 days, but they did not succeed. Then, they finally arrived at Marah and found water only to discover that water was too bitter to drink. How did the Israelites respond? The blessings and inspiration of the Red Sea couldn't be found in their hearts any more. Rather, they started grumbling against the man of God, Moses. They turned into complaining and unbelieving people because of their bitter sufferings. Nevertheless, Moses cried out to God for His help. This is the image of a true believer and what we need to do when we encounter the dangers of Shur and Marah in our lives. We cannot avoid the bitterness of Shur and Marah in our lives, but we can overcome them by praying like Moses.
God indicated a tree to Moses who was praying because of the bitter water of Marah. It was a solution to the problem. When Moses threw that tree into the water, the bitter water became sweet water. Likewise, our God gives the tree of the cross to us, who cry out to Him because of Shur and Marah, in order to solve our problems. Today, may this tree of solution be thrown into our lives of Marah through the Word!
2. God who heals the pains of Shur and Marah in our lives
What is the messae that God proclaimed to the people of Israel as a result of turning the bitter water into sweet water? God is telling us, I am the Lord that heals you. It is our God who heals our diseases and solves problems, which are our Shur and Marah. No matter where you go in this world, there is no satisfaction, joy, or happiness that last. However, if we believe and trust in God who heals, there will be sweet water springing up wherever I go. Consequently, I will be a new Marah and Shur with green pastures.
During the time of Prophet Elisha, the water flowing through the city of Jericho was bad and thus, fruits of harvest fell before they were ripe. Prophet Elisha took some salt and threw it into the spring of water and all the problems were solved(2Kgs. 2:19-22). This salt also signifies Jesus. Who is the one who played the role of salt and preserved the world from decaying away? Theat is Jesus Christ. Thruough His blood on the cross, our Lord cleansed the lives that are reeking with odor and corruption. May the salt of our Lord be thrown into our lives that are fruitless like the bitter water of Marah! Thus says the LORD, I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer. I believe that God will answer us in the same manner.
At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus miraculously turned plain water into wine. When Jesus performed this miracle, He did not recite a magical phrase. He just made the servants fill the jars and commanded them to draw some out and take it. But how did that water turn into wine? It is through the obedience of the servants. They quietly obeyed as Jesus's mother told them, Whatever He says to you, do it(John 2:5). If you have encountered bitter sufferings at Shur and Marah, all you have to do is to obey the Lord and fill the empty jar. Regardless of what kind of disease we may have, all our bitter water will turn sweet and the Wilderness of Shur will turn into the land of Canaan overflowing with joy, happiness, and jubilee when we obey the Lord's command and throw the cross and the salt into the problems.
Jesus took away our weaknesses and healed our diseases(Matt. 8:17). Thus, we have hope even though there may be sufferings of Shur and Marah in our lives. We can have hope because He works with great miracle when we throw the cross of our Lord into the source of our diseases, children's problems, business, work, and family.