I'm doing a Beth Moore Bible study this year. I've never done one before but have heard she is a gifted teacher. Her studies are combination workbook and video studies.
This study is called "A Woman's Heart - God's Dwelling Place" and studies the Old Testament tabernacle. People have told me this is a fascinating and inspiring study (be it by Beth Moore or not) but, frankly, I wasn't all that interested in studying the tabernacle. I did so in a Bible class in college for my Religion major, and I was simply not into it at all. But, since this particular Beth Moore study has come so highly recommended by friends who did it last year at our old church, I was eager to accept the invitation to join in.
We do homework in the workbook and today I came across some great stuff. Just have to share it. I don't think I'm breaking any copyright laws by quoting a few passages.
In Exodus 15, God has just miraculously brought the Israelites through the Red Sea on dry ground and subsequently drowned all of their enemies, Pharoah's armies who pursued them. The Israelites were being led by God through the wilderness by way of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. After the Red Sea, He led them three days to a place with water that was not drinkable. The Bible says the waters were bitter, therefore the place was named Marah, which means "bitterness."
God commanded Moses to take a nearby tree and throw it into the waters. When he did, the waters became sweet and Israel's thirst was met.
The passage concludes with verse 26 in which God states that if Israel will follow Him closely He will "put none of these diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer."
Beth Moore notes the same oddity I felt when reading that. She notes how curious it is that God chose this time to introduce Himself as Healer, Jehovah Rapha. It seems kind of out of place. Bad water turned good, then suddenly God is talking about diseases and being their healer. Why not after the Israelites had come down with some sickness and He miraculously healed them all? No, He chose to introduce Himself as Healer within a circumstance whose focal point was the turning of bitterness to sweetness.
"He introduced Himself as Jehovah-Rapha by demonstrating His power over the most common disease from which His children would suffer - bitterness."
"Bitterness is a spiritual cancer, a rapidly growing malignancy that can consume your life. After it consumes the soul, it begins to eat away at the body. It is so contagious that we can pass it on to our children, who are often oblivious to the source.
...No amount of distractions or busywork - not even church work - can treat this spiritual disease.
...Bitterness cannot be ignored but must be healed at the very core, and only Christ can heal bitterness. No one can do it for you, and no one can tell you exactly what is required for your healing. Others can direct you to Jesus, but you must show up for your appointments."
It was at this point that my thoughts turned to the question, "Am I bitter, Lord?" Evidence would indicate that yes, there are areas where things have been left unresolved, hidden, and stashed away, areas where bitterness has crept in. Then I asked myself, "What are my favorite distractions? What tends to satisfy me on the surface and keep me from seeing the things that need changing?"
"In order to heal, you may need to start by forgiving.
Yet you may fear, as I did,
'If I forgive
that will make it all right
and it's not alright.'
Let God whisper into your ear what He whispered to me,
'No, My child; forgiving will
make you all right.' "
Just when I thought I'd had plenty to work with for the time being, she gently reminded me that:
"Healing is a cooperative effort."
"Often, believers let their Healer extract a portion of their spiritual malignancies, then force him to cease because of their lack of cooperation."
and then, the personalization:
"Will you allow Him to finish the good work He began in you?
Are you ready to trust your life to your Healer?
Peace awaits you on the other side of your Marah [bitterness].
Let Him take you there."
Like I said, I just had to share this with you. Good stuff. Worthy of self examination, of much meditation and prayer.