Seven miles from your breakthrough
by Sparta Live | July 23, 2018 7:32 am
By Steve Qualls – Christpoint Church
Not long after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea way back in the book of Exodus, they came to a bitter pool of water named Marah. They numbered several million people, in the desert, with no water or provision. They were totally dependent on the lord for their lives.
They come upon the waters of Marah, and they began to complain because the water was too bitter to drink. Perry Stone described the bitter waters as giving a person bad diarrhea if you drink it. Bitterness is toxic to our spiritual systems and has a way of creating spiritual sickness.
This story in the book of Exodus tells of their three-day journey that began with singing but ended in bitterness. The body cannot sustain life without water, and I’m sure three days is an eternity in the desert under such conditions. But it seems their go-to reaction was to grumble. Sometimes I think we can too quickly substitute the victory of yesterday for the tragedy of the now.
They had just come off a miracle season of leaving Egypt behind forever, crossing the Red Sea miraculously on dry ground, and witnessing the annihilation of pharaoh’s army in the sea. They created a song and sang of God’s deliverance at the hands of Moses. And now their dehydrated bodies and parched tongues could only find the energy to complain rather than trust. As the story goes they marched into the wilderness of Shur. They stopped at Marah and found the water was bitter. Now something they didn’t know was that their breakthrough was only seven miles away.
Elim was only seven miles from Marah. If we aren’t careful, we will spend our days in bitterness and miss our Elim. Elim is described as having 12 springs and 70 palm trees. It was a desert oasis. There was a spring for each tribe and enough trees to provide shade and a cool place to escape the arid heat of the desert.
But here is the key verse in this entire story. The last thing that is mentioned in the 15th chapter of Exodus is that “they encamped at Elim.”
Bitterness creates division, strife, and discontentment. It promotes a lack of closeness. It tears away at the victory and causes tempers and outburst. Bitterness cultivates blame, and under the influence of bitterness, it is always someone else’s fault.
Elim, on the other hand, is a place of peace and provision – a place where there is plenty for everyone. And selfishness doesn’t rot intentions at Elim, and it’s a place where people want to be. By camping there, it indicated that they resided there. Elim is a destination, not the rest stop. And remember, Elim is only seven miles down the road from Marah.
This all came after “the song.” The Hebrew meaning for the word Shur is “to sing.” Israel had a song in their heart after the Red Sea crossing. People don’t sing if they’re bitter. The journey began with rejoicing. Three days without water took their victory from singing to bitterness. Water is representative of the word of God. Our greatest takeaway from this passage is that three days without the word and bitterness is soon to follow. If we are going to make it to the springs of Elim, the word is going to have to lead us there and quench our thirst.
I want to reiterate that Elim is a destination and not a rest stop. Camping at the wrong place, such as Marah, will result in spiritual sickness. The wise man says in Proverbs 14:30 that a heart of peace gives life to the flesh, but envy or bitterness rots the bones. Bitterness not only attacks, but it attacks from within and rots from the inside out.
Let’s move on to Elim my friends. Marah is no place for us. Come and see me at Christpoint church this Sunday, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., and we will greet you with the love of God. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.