Last week we took a three days’ journey with our Israelite ancestors from Rameses through Succoth, Etham and finally (on the 3rd day) to Pi Hahiroth located opposite Baal Zephon, at which point they crossed the Reed Sea with the Egyptian chariots chasing after them. We noted that this would have taken place on the 18th of the month of Aviv, signifying “chai” – the very day of Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead.
Immediately after this miraculous and joyous event, indicating the nation’s formation, another three days’ journey commenced. This journey brought the Israelites, on the 21st day of Aviv, to a place called Mara, which was named so because of its bitter waters. Thus the seventh day of the Feast of Matzot that was to be a holy convocation (ref. Ex. 12:16) and set aside as a solemn day to YHVH, turned out to be a time of worry, complaint and… bitterness.
It was right there that YHVH had pointed out to Moses, a tree (“etz”) that was cast into the waters making them sweet. How much of a promise is there in a “tree”?! How much power is there in a “tree”? It was on a tree that Messiah Yeshua bore the bitterness of our sins in His body, so that we may live in the sweetness of His righteousness (ref. 1st Peter 2:24). There is also a promise which remains, that one day there will be one tree held in the hand of the Almighty; the tree of the united people of Israel and Judah (ref. Ez. 37:19), the tree which is mentioned in Romans 11:17. Then all the bitterness of the former ‘defiling with idols, with detestable things, and with any of the transgressions’ will be turned into the sweetness of ‘deliverance, salvation and cleansing’ (ref. Ez.37:23).
Thus the high Sabbath (“shabbaton”) of the last day of the feast of Matzot became a day of testing, as is declared in Exodus 15:25, but beyond the test YHVH also chose that day for announcing “a statute and an ordinance” according to which: ”If you diligently heed the voice of YHVH your Elohim and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am YHVH who heals you – YHVH Rophe’cha" (v. 26).
The next stop of our fathers, three weeks after this decisive incident, found them in Elim, on the 15th day of the second month (ref. 16:1), “where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, so they camped there by the waters” (15:27). However, even with all this wonderful provision of grace, their complaining did not cease (16:2-3).
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1st Corinthians 10:11).
As we look forward to our wilderness/desert journey, may we remember YHVH’s words: “I’m not doing this for your sake oh house of Israel but for my name sake… to humble you and test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you will keep My commandments or not… and that I might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceeds from My mouth” (Modified from Deuteronomy 8:2-3).