Three hard days of trekking in the wilderness had depleted Israel’s water supply and when they finally found water at Marah, it was bitter and undrinkable.
Being three days without water and on the verge of death is something no one wants to encounter. However, this time-period is very significant for Israel because it pictures resurrection – the final portion of the baptism they experienced in the cloud and in the Sea (I Corinthians 10:2).
Baptism has three components: Death, burial, and resurrection.
In the whole of scripture, all things point to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Cloud separating the Israelites from the Egyptians on the shore of the Red Sea pictured death – light to Israel (believers) and darkness to the Egyptians (unbelievers). Then, descending into the Red Sea and walking through it on dry ground to the other side, symbolized burial. Finally, these three days of waterless travel, dimly foreshadowed the three days and nights Jesus spent in the belly of the earth. (Matt. 12:40)
After those three days, Jesus resurrected.
Remarkably, resurrection is not only something Jesus did, it is also who He is. Speaking to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, He said, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)
Resurrection means raised from death incorruptible. This is not resuscitation – bringing the same body back to life. No, in resurrection the body is changed – it is mortality putting on immortality (I Corinthians 15:51-53).
At the time of Jesus and later, there were two sects of Jews: Sadducees and Pharisees. Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, but the Pharisees did. The apostle Paul was a Pharisee. Nevertheless, he adamantly and violently opposed those who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah. Until one day, while he was on his way to Damascus to persecute and arrest believers. As Paul, formerly named Saul, tells it, at midday he saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun. In the midst of the light, a voice spoke in the Hebrew language asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Saul was confused because he had been persecuting believers in Jesus, not this Light, so he asked, “Who are you Lord?” The voice answered, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul arose from his encounter with the resurrected Jesus, blind. For three days he was “…without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”
The Lord then sent a man named Ananias to Saul, to restore his sight and to fill him with His Holy Spirit. At once, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and his sight returned. (Acts 9:1-19, Acts 26:13-18)
As a diligent student of the Jewish Scriptures, Saul now understood God in a way he had never known Him before.
Through the living and eternal word of God, he was born again – changed. His old man or spirit was gone the new man had come. (II Cor. 5:17) In this mortal life, we too can experience this partial resurrection by repenting, believing and receiving Jesus as Lord. He longs to remove the scales from our eyes, so we can look forward to meeting the Lord in the air and full resurrection.
However, back in the wilderness where we left Israel, they still need their eyes opened. They need the sweet water of the Word of God to bring them times of refreshing. Nevertheless, before true times of refreshing can come, repentance or turning from their sin must occur, but will it?