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…
I. THAT GREAT JOY IS OFTEN CLOSELY FOLLOWED BY A GREAT TRIAL. "Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong" is the grateful word of many a rejoicing Christian; and lo! suddenly touched by the finger of Providence, it reels and rocks as though heaved by an earthquake, and falls into the depths of the sea. In the day of prosperity be wise! Rejoice with trembling! Do not presume on the possession of present good. In the hour of peace forget not the preparation for a possible storm. Trust in God with a firm hand, both in sunshine and in shade.
II. HERE IS A GREAT TRIAL TRANSFORMED INTO A GREAT BLESSING. The bitter was not removed, but converted into sweet. So God can make the grief a grace anti change the burden into a blessing. The rod itself shall bud and blossom and bring forth almonds, so that the very thing that chastens the trustful soul shall present beauty to the eye and fruit to the taste. It was a Divine work. The Israelites, even with Moses at their head, had no skill to meet the given necessities of the hour. "The Lord showed them a tree," and so miraculously healed the forbidding spring. Brothers! human wisdom, earth's philosophies, the world's limited resources are all useless in the midst of our desperate needs.
III. HERE IS A GREAT TRIAL, SO TRANSFORMED, PREPARING FOR AND LEADING TO A STILL GREATER BLESSING. (see ver. 27). Christian, be of good courage. Egypt's chains were heavy; but the Red Sea victory made thee glad. Marah's waters were bitter; but the Lord distilled sweet streams therefrom to strengthen and refresh thy soul. Then He led thee to beautiful Elfin, with its springs and palm-trees, and its grateful rest, and in all and through all thou art "nearer" Canaan than when first thou didst believe. Amid all thine alternations of joy and sorrow there shall be, if thou art faithful to thy God, a clear current, progressive gain, and it shall still be better further on.
IV. THIS GRACIOUS ALTERNATION AND ABUNDANT DELIVERANCE WAS ALL EXPERIENCED ON THE LINE OF MARCH. Let the Christian never forget that these are the conditions necessary to secure his gracious progression of conquest, transformation, and exceeding joy.
(J. J. Wray.)
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.