The people of God are finally let go from Pharaoh's harsh bondage of slavery over them. They are free. They can go and worship God and get on with their lives outside of the grips of the Egyptians. God has delivered them! And miraculously so! His deliverance included parting the Red Sea, making a clear path for them to follow, and destroying His peoples' enemies for them! They didn't have to fight this battle. Wow.
So after this, Miriam and Moses start singing. Brother and sister, get together and start praising and thanking God for the deliverance they just experienced. And then Miriam takes up a tambourine and all of the women follow her with their tambourines and start dancing while Miriam sings to them:
Sing to the Lord
for he is highly exalted
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea. Ex. 15:21
A beautiful picture of women in leadership, leading with a grateful heart, in a posture of worship, and by example.
Then things take a turn for the worst. Moses leads the people from the Red Sea into the Desert of Shur. And after three long days of travel they are thirsty and tired. The only water to be found, is bitter water from a place called Marah.
So what do the people start doing? Grumbling.
Shortly after their miraculous deliverance and beautiful worship service to the Lord, they encounter a challenge...and their first response, is not prayerful petitioning to the Lord. Nope. They complain. They grumble. They have forgotten the provision they just experienced barely 72 hours prior.
Does this sound like cranky kids at the end of a really fun day you've tried to provide.
The park, a picnic, playing games, giving them your undivided attention. You get home, and it's non-stop complaining about any old thing, (or in the Israelites' defense, a legitimate thing... but still)? And you may feel like harshly reminding your kids about the fun day you just spent with them, and to smarten up! :)
Surprisingly, this isn't God's reaction to the Israelites in this instance.
the Lord showed him (Moses) a piece of wood.
He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. Ex. 15:25
Not only did God provide a way out of this predicament, He gave them something good! Sweet water in a hot desert. A blessing to be sure. And after they grumbled, even!
Nevermind how ungrateful our kids can be after we love on them - how often do I carry on with my day, after having a fantastic time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word and the first crisis of the day catches me off guard and I'm grumbling! Already forgetting how God promises to provide a way. Yeah. Often.
But the Lord doesn't end this with provision of sweet water. He tests their sincerity and wants them to learn something important:
There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and 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. Ex. 15:25b-27
What does God want His children to know?
---Listen carefully to the voice of the Lord (Read the Word; get advice from other Christians we trust)
---Do what is right (apply what we read in God's Word; consider/listen and do the sound advice we receive)
---Pay attention (keep alert; never stop learning; down let the world drown out God's voice)
---The Lord is the healer (God is our deliverer; God is our provider; God is the one keeping us alive today)