WHAT PURPOSE DO THE LAWS OF MOSES SERVE?: Why the Bitter Waters Were Made Sweet in Exodus 15:22-26

How the Lord brought me into this revelation

While recently reading the Second Book of Esdras (aka 4 Ezra), I happened to look at the study notes included at the bottom of the page of my RSV Expanded New Oxford Annotated Bible upon reading 1:22-23. In context, these verses are just few of many as Ezra dictates his ‘Thus says the Lord’ petitions, going through the mercies God has extended to the nation of Israel throughout their chronology. Verses 22-23 reference the Bitter Waters Being Made Sweet from what we find recorded within Exodus 15:22-26.

22 Thus says the Lord Almighty: When you were in the wilderness, at the bitter stream, thirsty and blaspheming my name,
23 I did not send fire upon you for your blasphemies, but threw a tree into the water and made the stream sweet.

Second Esdras 1:22-23 (RSV)

Being that the apocrypha can be found in back of this particular bible — as I randomly flipped towards the beginning of the book, hoping to get close to the Book of Exodus — mind you, there are no coincidences — I just so happened on my single attempt to flip to the exact page Exodus 15:22-25 could be found, as the study notes directed! Amazed, I knew right then God was moving and wanted to show me something:

The symbology behind Exodus 15:22-26

Of course when studying our Bibles, it is proven you simply can not uncover any absolute truth without putting all religious differences aside; stepping out in faith, leaning not on our own understanding — accepting the entire Bible is the interwoven Inspired Word of God — as Jesus indeed serves as the key to unlocking the endless mysteries within our scriptures.   

The Bible reveals to us that water can commonly represent the Word itself. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman within John 4:1-26, 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, [note: this is referencing Jacob’s Well, as the scriptures teach us through the Books of the Major and Minor Prophets Jacob represents the population of Man who stemmed from our Twelve Patriarchs, Jacob’s twelve sons.] 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” This is verified to us earlier in John 1:14, as we are told And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

And as stated before, when put to the test, these claims only prove themselves; as only the Inspired Word of God can do.



As we must only look to the scriptures for answers — as indeed they can not be broken Psalm 119:43, John 17:17, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20 —  one will eventually find themselves pondering verses like Psalm 1:3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 to better understand what the tree could represent within Exodus 15:22-26 — which of course is us, reflecting either our strength or weakness in our walk with the Lord and His truth.

Jesus confirms this within the Gospels, through teachings like the Parable of the Sower found in Luke 8:4-15. His proclamation found within John 15:1-8 also give us even more marvelous insight, as Jesus tells us I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser [John 15:1].

Clearly, the pieces become blatantly obvious that what is being stated here about our Bibles is indeed absolute truth — pointing in the only direction to Jesus of Nazareth as the key; precisely as the unbroken scriptures claim.

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Through all of this we can discern what the story told within Exodus 15:22-26 is teaching us: That the Laws of Moses are bitter on their own, but when applied to our daily lives, they become sweet. I implore you to reread the passage and consider its relevance as it plays into our biblical chronology and (true) history here on Earth.

If this interpretation is true, we should see evidence of this throughout our Bibles:

Already in Exodus 33:18-23 one can discern why Moses resulted to see God’s back upon asking to see the Lord’s glory. Jumping ahead — without coincidence — what the New Testament tells us about The Law is precisely confirmed — that its purpose was to expose our sin, thus was fulfilled upon the sinless blood Jesus offered as the Son of God (see Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:22), serving as the perfect sacrifice to atone all sin for Mankind — Jew and Gentile alike. There are countless scriptures within the writings of Paul that verify this, but I personally find the subject most palpably compressed within the Book of Galatians (see 2:19-21, 3:21-26 and 4:1-7). 

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:19-20 (NKJV)

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:56-57 (NKJV)

I invite you to investigate what other books within the New Testament confirm on this matter. Romans 7:7-25 and Hebrews 10:1-16 could be a good place to start. 

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

Hebrews 10:1 (NKJV)

Addressing popular contrary views within the Body of Christ: 

What about Matthew 5:17-20? 

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Many stand on Matthew 5:17-20 to justify that we should still be striving to live by the Laws of Moses; which of course the unbroken scriptures tell us is impossible to do without falling short; hence its purpose, covered above.

First of all, the term fulfilled used in the scriptures seems to be overlooked with those proclaiming this doctrine (again, with proper study, this can be made clear through following the scriptures highlighted above).

Thus when Jesus said in verse 19, Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven., it becomes apparent, in full context, Jesus was referring to the Beatitudes found within Matthew 5:1-15. As much as it sounds like this is not the case when reading the above passage of Matthew 5:17-20 translated into the English, the fact remains in carrying such a doctrine that brings us back to the Law, the scriptures remain broken; hence countless verses found within the writings of Paul must then be thrown out — not even mentioning the above proof-passages being exposed in this very article from the Old Testament.

At the end of the day, the evidence remains to be rock-solid consistent, clearly proving itself within the scope the Inspired Word of God can only do, without compromising the integrity of our Bibles.   

What about the keeping of the law being proclaimed in such books like the Psalms?

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!

Psalm 119:1 (NKJV)

When we look at verses like Psalm 119:1 for example, the word Torah יָרָה   being used for the law can easily translate into not precisely the Laws of Moses, but the entire body of the Word as a whole. 

Again, this interpretation supports and proves itself, as the scriptures remain unbroken under such an understanding — despite whether you’re a fan of the Strongs Concordance or not.

Does this mean Jesus freed us from the Ten Commandments?

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:35-40 (NKJV)

This question stems from vast debates found within the Body of Christ. It is my personal opinion Christ freed us from the legalistic laws and ordinances found within Five Books of Moses. This would not include the Ten Commandments per se. For example, stoning as a penalty of sin of course goes against the message Jesus left to us within the Gospels; i.e. John 8:1-12.

I also believe this includes other legalistic matters, like how we are to observe feasts, holidays, the Sabbath, etc.

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17 (NKJV)

Jesus indeed covered the broad spectrum of these topics in verses like Matthew 22:35-40, provided above; seemingly leaving us to our own discernment. 

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As we read from the contents of John 8, Jesus freeing us from the Law perfectly complies within the slavery laws that can be studied out in the Old Testament; specifically – with purpose – in the case of Abraham [note: Galatians 4:1-7].

Like many of the studies found on this site, we again see the integrity of our Bibles stand strong, as the truth becomes unveiled perceiving our Bibles (Old and New Testament) as the complete interwoven Inspired Word of God — minus the religion. 

Let the scriptures interpret the scriptures!

I pray this study has blessed, built-up and edified those whose hands this work has found themselves in on this day. God bless you.

Categories: Biblical Studies, Canonical Bible Studies, Studies in the Book of Exodus

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