From Bitter to Sweet
They were going from the service of a tyrant to the service of a Father. I want to show you three lessons this morning about how things work in the Christian life. Not all of these lessons are how things ought to be, but all of them are how things are. These are three realities you can count on in the Christian life—the first one to avoid, the second to expect, and the third to hope for. This lesson is the one we want to avoid. Sadly, none of us do. I wonder what exactly is behind the wording.
Were they ready? Were they not? This is a great celebration. We want to stay here on the banks of the Red Sea and sing! This is the life! Maybe they wanted to keep celebrating. But it was time to move. Remember the pillar of cloud and fire that led them to the Red Sea, seemed to pin them between the sea and the Egyptians, and then protected them and led them through? We know from the end of the book, in Exodus 40, that the pillar continued to lead them in all of their journeys through the wilderness.
Think of all that they had seen in the past months. They had seen staffs turn into snakes, and then those snakes swallowing up other snakes.
Ruth: From Bitter to Sweet | Logos Bible Software
They had seen all of that, day after day and week after week. Well, how are we doing? Then, as the army is chasing them, he pours back the water and swallows up the Egyptians. They had seen all of it!
And it took three days for all of that grace to turn into grumbling. They wanted something to drink. But they ask it in a spirit of complaining. Think of the arithmetic here. They had been set free from years of slavery. They had seen 10 plagues.
From Bitter To Sweet
And it took three days to forget all of that. I could get about three hours. Why did they falter so quickly? Why do we so quickly go from Amazing Grace to astonishing grumbling? Well, think about the Israelites. Perhaps if God or Moses had laid out a map or itinerary for them, or had given them something they could look at on their phones and have some understanding of where they were, they might not have complained so quickly. Slavery in Egypt became attractive because it was living by sight. This YHWH business was living by faith. We sympathize so much. But it seems to be very painful. At least you know why you are there.
But what in the world is this guy, Moses, thinking?
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Why do teenagers start having a hard time putting up with their parents? Because when a young person turns 13, their parents automatically become dumber. As they turn 13, at the same time as they are getting smarter, their parents are getting infinitely dumber. So there is a lack of trust. It hurts, but you keep doing it. But when you lose that trust, the grace becomes grumbling. Can you see why grumbling is such a serious sin? They were facing a new adversity. You can understand that they had probably already drank all the water that they had brought with them for this journey into the wilderness.
And at the moment when they are getting parched of thirst, they spot a water source. You can imagine the excitement as the front of the camp passed the word back. This is terrible. This is brackish, bitter water. It was undrinkable. You can imagine their disappointment. Too many blessings! A groan is one thing, but a grumble is another. The Bible is full of groaning. Romans 8 says that we groan along with all of creation to be set free from this bondage to decay.
There are lots of grumbles too. Three days is all it took for all that grace to turn into grumbling. I think I can say with confidence that this is a sin that all of us are guilty of. Grumbling is a sin we universally dislike in others and invariably approve of in ourselves. Grumbles all the time! We like Tigger and bouncing around. We see it in our kids. You take the kids on a wonderful family trip.
It takes lots of your time, energy, and money. Or you take a wonderful trip to the United Kingdom. And what happens? When are we going to eat?
Why did we ever go? When are we going to be back?
- From Bitter To Sweet.
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This is wonderful! We are making memories! You see it so clearly in your children, and you get so frustrated as parents. I told you it was amazing!
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You believed it. I made you believe it. It was amazing! God has a remedy for all our troubles before they happen to us. A delightful employment it is to notice how God forestalls himself; how long before we reach the encampment, if there be the bitter well, there is also the healing tree.