The pre-requisite to the fullness of the adventure, for the Israelites, was a visit to the oasis of Marah (Exodus 15:22ff)
The Israelites had suffered emotionally and physically after a life of slavery in Egypt. The atrocities they had experienced , the injustices they had seen the oppression they had carried would have taken its toll on all the people. The Egyptians were without mercy, ruthless, oppressive and systematically butchered the Israelite children (Exodus 1:13- 14) It says in verse 14 that the Egyptians made their life bitter, this was a culture where bitterness was rife.
Now at the beginning of a new journey God wants to give his people a fresh start. He wants to take away all the bitterness and heal their hearts (I am the Lord who heals you Exodus 15:26)
Bitterness comes in our lives when we have had unwanted experiences – failures, disappointments, setbacks or loss – that are perceived to be beyond our control. Bitterness occurs when one believes, rightly or wrongly, that other people could have prevented the undesired outcome. Regret involves blaming oneself. Bitterness, much like other negative emotions, could bring on illness.
Why do we want to hold onto bitterness? It is because the letting go of something that has affronted and hurt us down to our very core is hard. What we don’t always realise is that our core, whilst hosting bitterness, becomes full of spiritually rotting, putrid slime. This seeps into our thought world, sleep time and daily living. We find that if someone presses a sore place in our heart we explode into anger spewing this rancid acid out damaging those around. For some of us we implode swallowing this gunk back down to our stomachs making us feel sick and a burning pain within.
In the passage in Exodus 15 we find that the way to heal bitterness was to through a piece of wood in the water that God had chosen. This is a picture of the healing the cross brings to our lives. We are healed because he gave his live for ours.
Today: Let us look how entering freedom means we leave the past behind. Think of situations where you may still feel bitter about the past. Tomorrow we will start to look on Monday at the process of healing bitterness.