In the account of the Exodus, we have three scenes: Egypt, the wilderness between Egypt and the promised land, and the promised land itself. As we consider the spiritual application of these events, Egypt is the world in which grace finds us slaves to self and to sin. There we are saved through faith in Christ "our Passover" (1Corinthians 5:6,7), and we no longer belong to the world. The promised land is not a type of heaven, but of the believer's rest here and now (Hebrews 4:1-10). The experiences of Israel, as they passed through the wilderness from Egypt to the promised land, typify those of the believer after justification, but before he has learned to cease "from his own works [efforts], as God did from His" (Hebrews 4:10) and so enter into rest, possession, and victory (Joshua 21:43,44).
There is no Christian life to which the Marah, or bitter, experience does not come. They were thirsty for water (the Holy Spirit, see John 4:14), and here was water, but it was bitter! They could not drink it. Since this is a universal experience, we must understand it. It was not chastisement, for the Israelites were in the path, following the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. Chastisements come when we are out of the path, but God led His people to Marah! The believer's path contains lessons to be learned as well as pleasures to enjoy.
The sweetest thing in the universe to Christ was the will of His Father. The cross became acceptable because it was a part of that will. Our bitter "Marahs" become sweet when accepted in that spirit. The "tree" is the cross, which became sweet to Christ as the expression of the Father's will. When our "Marahs" are so taken, we too cast the tree into the waters (Romans 5:3,4).
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