So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness…
What is all this, but a striking picture of human life, and of that which the grace of God can and does effect? All the waters of human life have been poisoned by sin. There is not one drop that has been left quite pure, — all has been made bitter. Much there is still which at a distance looks beautiful and refreshing; and those who walk by sense and not by faith, are often, may, always, deceived by appearances just as Israel was. It is not until they taste for themselves that they find out the truth of Solomon's words, that all is "vanity and vexation of spirit." Look at the attractions of the world, which cause so many souls to wander. What are they all but a vain show, which can intoxicate or lull the soul for a time, but which leave it, oh, how weary and restless afterwards! The waters of the world are truly bitter waters. Or, look at the occupations of life. To some energetic spirits the very difficulty and toil of labour are attractive; but, after a while, will not the question thrust itself upon the busy mind — oh, what is the profit? what the end of all this? Suppose that everything prospers. Suppose that I have enough to satisfy every earthly want, to secure me every gratification, to encompass myself and children with every luxury. What then? There is a voice, a penetrating voice, that says, "Prepare to meet thy God!" that proclaims, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after that the judgment." And then, what will become of me? Or, look again at the relationships of life. Instituted though they are by God, yet sin has embittered them also. Whence is it, that some of the deepest and most certain trials of life come to us? It is through our relationships and our friendships. Deep affection, sacred as it is, has always many anxieties associated with it. How many a mother's heart is gradually worn out by cares about her children! How many a father, when surveying the disturbances of his family, is impelled to adopt the words of the aged Jacob, "All these things are against me!" And then, how many a heart is left widowed even early in life, with a void which nothing earthly can ever fill! Is it too much to say that this world, viewed as it is in itself, is "Marah"? Its waters are bitter. Have not numbers who have embraced it as their all, gone down to the grave, restless, discontented and murmuring? It may seem to some as if we had invested the world with its pleasures, its occupations, and its relationships, in too thick a gloom. If so, we would remind you that we have been speaking of the world, as such, as it is in itself — of pleasures which are far from God — of business and occupation from which God is excluded — and of relationships which are put in the place of God.
Parallel VersesKJV: So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.