"And the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet; there he made for them a statute, and an ordinance, and there he proved them, and said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Ex. 15:25, 26).
This was the discovery to Moses of Divine Healing. The branch that was cast into the bitter waters had been there before, but undiscovered, and now the Lord showed it to him and the waters were healed.
A WONDERFUL DISCOVERY
What a wonderful epoch it marks in our lives when we discover the hidden promises whose reality and power we had never dreamed of before! Henceforth life becomes all new. How wonderful to find that ever since the Saviour died our complete redemption has been purchased, and only waiting for our faith to claim it; and how we wish that all the world might know the treasure it is losing and the hidden resources of help and blessing which lie, like undiscovered wealth of some secret mine, beneath our thoughtless feet. The branch which Moses found simply represents the promise of God. Our Bible is full of such promises, and all we need is the divine illumination to show them to us and then the faith to claim them and apply them in the hour of need.
The sweetening of the bitter waters of Marah is closely connected in this passage with the ordinance of healing which God immediately proceeds to give to Israel. It is evident, therefore, that the healing of the waters was intended to suggest the other healing covered by the divine promise and what a promise it is! It lays the deep and solid foundation of the Lord's supernatural life for all our physical need. What a difference it makes in our lives when we truly find and fully understand this strong and sure foundation for faith to rest upon.
GOD'S PRIMARY SCHOOL
One should not fail to notice how early this experience came into the history of ancient Israel. Like a fond mother who first cares for her baby's body and afterwards attends to its education, so God first provides for Israel's physical needs, and a little later puts His infant people to school at Mount Sinai and through the deeper lessons of the wilderness. The Lord Jesus began His ministry with physical healing, and so the youngest and humblest child of God ought to know the healing power of the Saviour. It is not surprising, therefore, that it comes natural to our simple-hearted converts in heathen lands, who know no better than to trust the Lord for both body and soul.
OLDER THAN THE LAW
It must also occur to the thoughtful reader that this ordinance of healing in the fifteenth chapter of Exodus is much older than the Law of Sinai, and, therefore, it has not been superseded even by the passing away of the Law. Just as Paul tells the Galatians that the covenant with Abraham could not be annulled by the later Law of Moses, so the ordinance of healing stands even after the passing away of the Mosaic institutions. The very terms "statute" and "ordinance" express permanency in this divine provision; and so it stands today, unless we can find in the New Testament some authoritative statement revoking it, which certainly we shall not find; for all the teachings of Christ and His apostles are but the echo and the fuller expression of the deep truths so well expressed in this ancient Law of Healing.
A TEST QUESTION
It is announced emphatically in the narrative that this was to be a test question with God's people. There "He proved them"; and what a test it is today of Christian life and Christian faith! How few there are that dare to stand it, and how it proves the people of God! How it brings us up to His heartsearching light and compels us to walk in holy fellowship and obedience if we would find the promises true in our bodies. How rigidly it demands an obedience as deep and spiritual as the profoundest teachings of the New Testament require. It is not enough that we do our best and sincerely follow the light we have, but we must "diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord our God." We must take pains to understand His will. We must have a yielded, willing and responsive conscience that fears to offend and jealously feels its way into all His will. And so, while divine healing is the privilege of the youngest disciple, it will not suffer us to continue immature or careless, but will impel us to the deepest spirituality and the most earnest and diligent conformity to all the will of God. There is nothing that has so chastening, humbling, heartsearching and sanctifying an influence over our spiritual life as to live a life of dependence upon Christ for our bodily strength from day to day.
There is another deeply spiritual truth connected with this discovery. Dr. Young translates the last clause of the passage in the continuous present tense: "I the Lord am healing thee." This is the aspect of divine healing which the Apostle Paul so frequently emphasizes. It is not a mere or incident occurring occasionally in life, but it is a life of constant, habitual dependence upon Christ for the body; moment by moment abiding in Him for our physical, as well as spiritual need, and taking His resurrection life and strength for every breath and every step.
Once more, the blessing that follows divine healing is finely expressed in the sequel to this ancient incident. "They came to Elim where were twelve wells of water and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters." There is something exquisite about this sentence. It seems to be a sort of crystallized poem. The very tones fall upon the ear with strange sweetness. We can almost imagine that we feel the balm of the soft tropical air, hear the rustling of the palm trees, and see the sparkling waters from Elim's wells. How refreshing the shade; how exhilarating the fountains; how delightful the rest; how heavenly the overshadowing cloud! It is like a scene from the land of Beulah. It speaks to the deepest senses of the soul of the love-life of the Lord and the peace of God that passeth all understanding. And this is just the experience to which divine healing introduces the soul; the spiritual blessing is even richer than the physical. How real Christ seems to us; how we come to know the Lord as never before, and how He rests us and sheds the fragrance of His love and joy through every sense of our spiritual and physical being until the heart finds utterance in the inspired song, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Reader, have you made this great discovery? It is hidden somewhere in your Bible. Perhaps the very trial that has crushed you is God's opportunity for revealing it to you. God grant that the old story may be reproduced in your life. "He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the water, the waters were made sweet."