Exodus 15:22-27 (New International Version)
“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’ Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.’
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.”
After the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea, they were led into the desert. How strange that God would lead them from a place of revelation and power to a place of disappointment and dire need. But God wanted to show them that life is a combination of bitter and sweet, triumph and defeat. When the Israelites arrived at Marah, they complained because the water was bitter (Ex. 15:23). After Moses interceded (v.25), God reminded them to keep His commandments (v.26). Then He brought them to the abundance and refreshment of Elim (v.27).
The Lord wanted to teach them that each experience on their journey would reveal their hearts. This test showed they were living by sight and not by faith.
They also learned that God was involved in their daily affairs. He wanted them to know that He not only could part the sea, but He would also supply water for His people. He knew their needs because He planned their way. If you are being led into a wilderness of disappointment and bitterness right now, trust God, for He knows exactly where you are and what you need. As you obey His commands, He will lead you out of the desert and into a place of spiritual abundance, healing, and refreshment.