. . . don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.Hebrews 3:8
Our List of the Places of Rebellion in Order
- Mt Sinai
- Kadesh Barnea
You will note that I have added Mt Sinai to the list after my comments in the previous Gem. Now we come to Marah. Here are all the references to Marah in Scripture.
Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the LORD set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.” After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water.Exodus 15:23-27
They left Pi-hahiroth and crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness beyond. Then they traveled for three days into the Etham wilderness and camped at Marah. They left Marah and camped at Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.Numbers 33:8-9
Here are the locations for Marah which I have taken from the various atlases and E-Sword. I am sure if you have read the verses related to Marah, like me you will have questions you want to ask someone. “Hang on a moment, I just want to know why . . . ”
I am not going to address any questions you might have at this stage. Believe me, I have enough of my own to last me a long while. I will address the issues in the Nuggets, not in the Gems. Let’s look at the place of Rebellion named Marah just from the point of view of what happened there. They travelled for three days into the desert without finding water. That’s a pretty serious state of affairs. Put ‘desert’ and ‘no water’ together and it spells out a serious situation. How many people are we talking about? The text tells us 600,000 men left Egypt, but we know there were men, women and children in the party. That has to add up to at least 1,500,000 people. Many scholars and critics estimate there must have been close to 3,000,000 Israelites in the wilderness. It was a changing population over 40 years. That is a mammoth logistical nightmare at the best of times, let alone being stuck in the desert without shops, kiosks or warungs. In the landscape they were travelling in at the time, they had left behind the lakes and the rivers. They had to rely on springs, streams or water holes. This journey they were on was on-going for forty years.
“Seriously, Ian! You believe this stuff?” I am just investigating the text at this point. Oh I am sure you are coming up with all sorts of questions you want to ask. Make a list of them. See if I address your questions in what is to follow over these series of Gems and Nuggets written on The Places of the Israelites’ Rebellion and Tracking The Tangled Trail To Taberah. Make a note of them to ask in due course if I don’t offer an answer to your question. No, at this stage I am not going to solicit your questions as I often do. I have enough of my own questions to work through without adding yours. Believe me when I say I am good at asking questions.
Isn’t it interesting that the Book of Numbers is called ‘Numbers’ in Latin and “In The Desert’ in Hebrew? I suspect part of the reason is that tracking the numbers was also important:
- numbering the tribes to determine their strength
- keeping a track of the total population
- keeping a count of those who died
I hope you noticed that nothing happened at the foot of Mt Sinai to spark their rebellion. It just happened spontaneously. That never happens to you does it? Rebellion arising spontaneously? Generally, our rebellious moments are sparked for ‘good reasons’. I am sure you noticed at Taberah their rebellion was sparked by their hardship. This journey they were on was beginning to get harder and so they began to feel the effect of their deprivation. Now they are demanding solutions.
“Moses, you brought us here on this hare-brained scheme. Get us some water or get us out of here.”
We know this problem is not going to go away, because we know the story and we know what happens. Well, some of us do and others of us are not sure if we can trust it. Still others haven’t yet read to the end of the book. There was a preacher in my early years as a Christian who loved saying, “It’s all going to be alright; I’ve read the back of the book and it all works out for good in the end.” Many of us who claim to be Christians, followers of Christ, have read to the end of the story but we are still not convinced.
Come with me on this journey and let’s see what we can learn together as we dig deeper into Scripture than most of us have ever done before. Come along with us and I wouldn’t blame you if you insisted on bringing your own water bottle.
One way to learn to dig deeper into the Bible is to pay careful attention to the text on every level: note the details and take in the big picture.Ian
A teacher gave a pupil a book and said: “It’s called reading, it’s how you download the new software into your brain.”Anonymous
Do you spend more time putting stuff into your belly than you do into your brain?Bob Gass
Whenever you see confusion, you can be sure that something is wrong. Disorder implies that something is out of place. Usually, at the heart of all disorder you will find man in rebellion against God. It began in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day.A W Tozer