People always like to complain. It is a fact. Sometimes they have legitimate complaints, and sometimes they don’t. Suffice it to say, however, that most often the reaction to the complaint is proportional to the legitimacy of that complaint.

When the Israelites, fresh out of Egyptian slavery, saw themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the sea, they cried out to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, you’ve taken us to die in the wilderness…” (Exodus 14:11-12). God responded to this outcry from the recently redeemed Israelites by instructing Moses to split the Sea.

On the other hand, the ungrateful Jews complained a second time (even though they had crossed the Sea and sang praises thanking God) when they “walked three days in the desert but did not find water. They came to Marah, but they could not drink water from Marah because it was bitter” (Exodus 15:22-23). In response to this complaint, the Israelites were given both a solution (Moses threw a special piece of wood into the water that turned the water sweet) and some behavior guidelines: “If you hearken to the voice of the Lord, your God, and you do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to His commandments and observe all His statutes, all the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you, for I, the Lord, heal you” (ibid. 26).

At Marah, the peoples’ complaint was based on supposition. The text doesn’t say that they did not HAVE water, but that they did not FIND water. The first water that they found was not potable, and they reacted. However, unbeknown to them when they complained, they were on a path to “Elim, where were twelve springs of water, and three score and ten palm-trees; and they encamped there by the waters” (ibid. 27). God gave them what they felt they needed, but He also reminded them of the importance and need for trusting Him.

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