Miracles in the Wilderness Series - Lesson 10 - Tree-Healed Water

“So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea…out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.” (Exodus 15:22)

In the dry, barren, sun-baked land, Israel traveled three days without water. Remember, it was not only men, women, and children, they also had livestock. No water meant death. Even if they found enough for the six-hundred thousand plus people, would they be able to save their animals? In this barren wilderness, probably not.

Finally, they came upon the bitter waters of Marah, so named because the word Marah actually means bitter. Water normally preserving human life, here caused death. Frustrated, “…the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” (Ex. 15:24)

Let’s take a step back for a minute.

It has been three days, only seventy-two hours since these people miraculously walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. Wouldn’t you think this experience would be permanently etched on their minds? Shouldn’t they have remembered God’s mighty power automatically knowing He is able to provide water?

Possibly, but when we humans are hot, tired and thirsty, worried about our children and impending death, we tend to get angry and bitter. We kick into survival mode, forgetting the miraculous to focus on the pain.

But Moses remembered. He cried out to the Lord.

This time God provided a much more subtle miracle. It was not enormous and mind-blowing for the entire world to witness like the Red Sea, but it was just as powerful. God showed Moses a tree to heal the water. Casting this tree into the bitter water of Marah turned it sweet or pure.

Critics of the Bible try to make this less than miraculous by suggesting this tree was a type of medicinal tree of the region. So let’s really think about it.

First, the water of Marah must have been large enough to provide water for all the people and their animals. What tree have you ever heard of that can do something like purify even a small pond? Don’t you think if there were such a tree, our scientists would have discovered it by now, almost 4,000 years later?

Second, even if this tree had medicinal properties, Moses cast one tree into this body of water to make it sweet. Does that even make physical or scientific sense? No, it doesn’t.

But our Lord never does anything without a great purpose. Behind this miracle was an incredible spiritual picture.

After three days of traveling mostly by foot in the dusty, barren wilderness, the Israelites were exhausted and parched. They needed water and rest. However, in order to obtain these, they needed a tree. I Peter 2:24 tells us, Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree…”

The tree God showed Moses to heal the water was a picture of the cross of Christ.

Because of sin, we’re like zombies, alive, but dead. When we surrender to Jesus in repentance, He provides spiritual healing, rest for our souls, and living water to quench our thirst.

To us, the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Come to Me…I will give you rest…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Ask of Me and I will give living water so you never thirst again. This water will become in you “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Matt. 11:28, John 7:37, John 4:13-14)

So in the wilderness of your life when you come to these bitter waters of Marah, cry out to the Lord. Drink of His Tree-healed water and enter His rest.


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