Secrets, Rebellion, Bitterness and Poison

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20744575_sThis week we are going to look at secret sins and rebellion and the consequences thereof. You may be surprised at what we find here. Rebellion is one of those sins, we think other people commit and the same goes for secret sins. We look down on people who do this and disregard any teaching on the subject because we believe it doesn’t concern us. Please read this, as I said, you may be surprised by these findings.

YHVH wants us to be pure and set apart. He is pure and set apart, and sin brings separation between us and YHVH. When we read and study His word, He shows us the error of our ways, He convicts us of our sin. When we are convicted of sin by the Ruach (Holy Spirit), we are to repent (turn away from sin) and we will be restored. I tell you this because sometimes when we are convicted of sin, we become overwhelmed and want to give up. Y’shua died for all our sins and through repentance and faith in Him we receive forgiveness. We become new. The purpose of the study is to expose an area of sin in order for us to become free from the bondage thereof.

What brought about this study was a verse in Deuteronomy. As I was reading the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy, this verse caught my attention:

Deuteronomy 32:32
32 “For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, And from the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of poison, Their clusters, bitter.

I was wondering what it may mean. “Their” origin is the same as that of Sodom and Gomorrah, and “their” fruit is likened to bitter poison. Sodom and Gomorrah are obviously used as an analogy here. Let’s look at the context and the meaning of the words for more understanding.

Historical Context

The Song of Moses is a prophecy to Israel and to us. It serves as a warning of the outcome if they, or we forsake YHVH. Moses prophesied about how Israel’s prosperity would lead to their apostasy.

32:15. Many believers learn that prosperity is a more dangerous trial than adversity. In adverse circumstances a believer is reminded of how desperately he needs God’s help, but in time of prosperity he may easily forget God. Israel, ironically referred to as Jeshurun (“the upright one”; cf. NIV marg. and 33:5, 26), abandoned the Lord, their only hope for salvation, when they became prosperous (grew fat). The metaphor of an animal kicking at its owner suggests the mindless nature of Israel’s rebellion against God, their Rock (cf. comments on 32:4).

32:16–17. The nation’s apostasy took shape in the worship of idols (cf. v. 21) which meant they actually sacrificed to demons (cf. Ps. 106:37). Demonic control or influence may, in fact, help explain the powerful hold that idolatry exercised over people in the ancient Near East and Israel in particular at different times in her history. The Apostle Paul may have been thinking of Deuteronomy 32:16–17 when he wrote, “The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons” (1 Cor. 10:20). God was jealous (cf. Deut. 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; 32:21) in the sense that He is zealous to protect the honor that belongs to Him alone. He is against sharing His people’s affections with other gods.2

Israel rebelled against YHVH, they chose to forget Him and remember other gods. What is described by Deuteronomy 32:23 is YHVH’s judgment. It more specifically describes the enemy that will bring about this judgment. We have shown you in a previous article that the physical is interconnected with the spiritual. This enemy can therefor be physical and/or spiritual.

Four things are connected with this verse. We will show you how this is also connected in life. These four are the names Sodom and Gomorrah, and the words bitterness and poison. We shall first look at bitterness and poison in context and use scripture to interpret scripture.

Poison and bitterness

This idea of poisonous and bitter fruit is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:18.

Deuteronomy 29:18
18 so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from YHVH our Elohim, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.

Again, we see how turning away from YHVH, has as fruit: poison (death) and bitterness (wormwood refers to a bitter substance). We find a bit more detail about these people in the rest of the passage. They are referred to as people walking in the stubbornness of their own hearts (Deut 29:19) and their outcome are likened to that of Sodom and Gomorrah (Deut 29:23).

We find a similar reference in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 23:13–15
13 “Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I saw an offensive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray. 14 “Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah. 15 “Therefore thus says YHVH of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem Pollution has gone forth into all the land.’ ”

Jeremiah 9:15
15 therefore thus says YHVH of hosts, the Elohim of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.

In all of these scriptural examples, Israel’s turning away from YHVH and resulting unfaithfulness has as a result bitterness and poison.

In Lamentations, we read how wormwood and bitterness have caused the writer to return to YHVH. From this verse and the others above, we learn that YHVH uses this “poison and bitterness” as punishment to persuade people to repentance.

Lamentations 3:19–24
19 Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. 20 Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me. 21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 YHVH’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “YHVH is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

The writer is reminded of YHVH’s lovingkindness amidst his affliction, which he refers to as wormwood and bitterness.

There is another reference to wormwood and poisonous water in Revelation.

Revelation 8:10–11
10 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. 11 The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.

In this reference a great star called Wormwood will fall on the rivers and springs of water. This will cause a third of the water to become poisonous and many will die as a result of it.

From all these verses we can deduce that there are consequences for turning away from YHVH. In these cases it is bitterness and poison.

We have three applications or contexts of these verses. We have a reference to the past for we know some of this has already taken place. We also have a future context: the verse in Revelation and the prophecies of Jeremiah has a future or prophetic context. We can also apply the verses in the present. All three scenarios can be either physical or spiritual or both. What Israel has done, we are doing and will in future be done. There is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9
9 That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

The question is what are we to learn from this? Maybe there is something we can do differently as individuals and have a different outcome?

Let’s look at the Hebrew words that were translated as poison and bitterness to see what it means.


Taking poison can be harmful or deadly. In both Deut 32:32 and Deut 29:18 the Hebrew word “ros” was used to describe “poison

8032 II. רֹאשׁ (rō(ʾ)š): n.masc.; ≡ Str 7219; TWOT 2098—1. LN 6.197–6.202 poison, i.e., a substance which will harm or kill a living organism, usually made of plants (Dt 29:17[EB 18]; 32:32; Jer 8:14; 9:14[EB 15]; 23:15; Hos 10:4; Am 6:12+); 2. LN 8.70–8.77 venom, i.e., a poison produced as a by-product of some serpents (Dt 32:33; Job 20:16+); 3. LN 8.70–8.77 bitter substance, gall, i.e., a bitter fluid of an organism which is very unpleasant to the taste (Ps 69:22[EB 21]+), note: some sources translate “poison” but context is better served with “gall”; 4. LN 22.15–22.20 bitterness, i.e., a state or condition of experiencing hardship and trouble as a figurative extension of a bitter or poisonous substance (La 3:5, 19+)3


In Deut 32:32, the Hebrew word “merorah” was translated as “bitter”

5355 מְרֹרָה (merō·rā(h)): n.fem.; ≡ Str 4846; TWOT 1248f—1. LN 8.9–8.69 gall-bladder, i.e., a membranous muscular sack in which bile (a bitter substance) from the liver is stored (Job 20:25+), note: NIV translates “liver”; 2. LN 8.70–8.77 venom, i.e., the poison of snakes (Job 20:14+); 3. LN 22.21–22.28 unit: כָּתַב מָרֹר (kā·ṯǎḇ mā·rōr) place in a bitter situation, make one miserable, formally, write down (decree) bitter things, i.e., cause hardship or distress (Job 13:26+), note: some parse this as 53533

In Deut 29:18 the word “wormwood” was translated from “la anah

4360 לַעֲנָה (lǎ·ʿǎnā(h)): n.fem.; ≡ Str 3939; TWOT 1121—LN 6.197–6.202 bitter substance: a very unpleasant substance to consume, which may make one sick, either a root herb, leafy plant oil, or liver-bile; wormwood, i.e., a dark green bitter oil used in absinthe Artemisia absinthium (Dt 29:17[EB 18]; Pr 5:4; Jer 9:14[EB 15]; 23:15; La 3:15, 19; Am 5:7; 6:12+), note: possibly in some contexts “gall” as the bitter liver-bile of animal used in medical arts; or possibly another bitter root not yet identified, see also domain LN 79.39–79.44, LN 8.70–8.77, LN 6.203–6.2043

Bitterness is something we often read of in Scripture. It is used both in literal and figurative form. In literal form it describes a bitter plant or a bile-like substance; something of either plant or animal origin that tastes bitter. In figurative form it describes a mental state of great intense distress.

Another word is also used in Scripture to describe this bitterness, the Hebrew word “mar

5253 I. מַר (mǎr): adj. [see also 5253.5]; ≡ Str 4751; TWOT 1248a—1. LN 79.39–79.44 bitter, i.e., pertaining to having an astringent, pungent, disagreeable taste in the mouth (Ex 15:23; Nu 5:24a; Pr 5:4; 27:7; Isa 5:20), note: for MT text in 2Ki 14:26 hif, see 5286; 2. LN 25.223–25.250 anguished, despairing, bitter, i.e., pertaining to a mental state of great, intense distress, as a figurative extension of a bitter taste in the mouth (Ge 27:34; Nu 5:24b), note: Lisowsky switches 1 & 2; 3. LN 23.88–23.128 poisonous, i.e., pertaining to a deadly substance when applied through a weapon causes death (Ps 64:4[EB 3]); 4. LN 25.223–25.250 unit: מַר נֶפֶשׁ (mǎr ně·p̄ěš) discontented, formally, bitter of soul, i.e., in a state of unhappiness and mental distress (1Sa 1:10; 22:2; Job 3:20); 5. LN 88.105–88.125 unit: מַר נֶפֶשׁ (mǎr ně·p̄ěš) fierce, violent, formally, bitter of soul, i.e., pertaining to a person that can harm another (Jdg 18:25; 2Sa 18:7; Hab 1:6)3

The context, these words were used in giving it the meaning of hardship and intense mental or physical distress in some cases leading to death. How are we to understand this in relation to Sodom and Gomorrah?

Sodom and Gomorrah

The other two words or names in Deuteronomy 32:32 and in some of the other references are Sodom and Gomorrah. How are these connected to poison and bitterness? We shall first look at the meaning of the names.

According to the Hitchcock’s Dictionary of names, Sodom means “secret” and Gomorrah,” rebellious people.” The names represent the sins of these two towns: secret sins and rebellion. The exhaustive dictionary of Bible names confirms this.

Sodom (sod’-om) = Flaming; burning; (root = to burn). Mystery; their secret; (root = to hide). Fettered. 4

Fettered means to be restrained with chains. The way I understand it, is that Sodom is an analogy of secret sins which cause those who engage in it as being restrained with chains.

Gomorrah (go-mor’-rah) = People of fear; fear of the people; a rebellious people; (roots = [1] a people; [2] to be fearful; to tremble). Depression; (root = to bind; to subdue). Bondage. 4

Gomorrah, on the other hand represents rebellion, fear, depression and bondage. It is almost as if the meaning of the names shows us their sins and the consequences thereof. Secret sins causing the participant thereof to be chained by it and rebellion causing fear, depression and bondage. Let’s explore these secret sins and rebellion a bit more.

Secret sins

In Jude 7, the names of these towns are used to refer to those who indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh.

Jude 7
7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Here is an explanation of the term “gross immorality” from the Greek-English Lexicon of the new Testament:

88.271 πορνεύω; ἐκπορνεύω; πορνεία, ας f: to engage in sexual immorality of any kind, often with the implication of prostitution—‘to engage in illicit sex, to commit fornication, sexual immorality, fornication, prostitution.’5

Strange flesh is defined as follows:

88.279 ἀπέρχομαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας: (an idiom, literally ‘to go after strange flesh’) to engage in unnatural sexual intercourse—‘to have homosexual intercourse.’ ὡς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα … ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας ‘they committed homosexual intercourse … like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah’ Jd 7. 5

To go after strange flesh refers to engaging in any unnatural sexual relations. If you were to look up the word sodomy you will get a greater understanding as to what it refers to. You may be surprised as per definition, it includes bestiality, anal and oral sex.


Anal or oral intercourse between human beings, or any sexual relations between a human being and an animal, the act of which may be punishable as a criminal offense.6

We have seen what the consequences are of sexual immorality in our previous article “Relationships – ties that bind” These relationships or encounters cause unrighteous soul ties to the formed. These ties serve as a demonic bridge that causes demons to afflict the person. It also causes a constant longing for that person or persons and prevents the forming of deep, meaningful, lasting relationships. These ties will cause a longing for something else, different or more. They will always be lured back to that lifestyle unless these ties are broken through the authority we have in Y’shua.

Any form of sexual immorality is both secret and rebellious as it is against YHVH’s commandments. What is worst is that these kinds of sins are being committed in the open now. That too was prophesied.

Isaiah 3:8–9
8 For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against YHVH, To rebel against His glorious presence. 9 The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.

In Ezekiel, we also read about the sins of Sodom.

Ezekiel 16:49–50
49 “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. 50 “Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.

From this passage, it seems that the people of Sodom were prosperous, they had abundant food and lived with careless ease. Some of their other sins were not helping the poor and needy and being haughty. These too, are secret sins, because we don’t know what goes on in someone else’s heart. We don’t know if someone is turning a blind eye to the poor and needy. Haughtiness can also be hidden as false humility.

Let’s look into rebellion in more detail.


The plain definition of rebellion in a scriptural sense is spiritual revolt. The rebel actively and willfully does what is prohibited. Disobedience is rebellion. Israel committed spiritual revolt every time they forgot YHVH and worshiped other gods. Rebellion does not only include acts of disobedience, but also a heart of disobedience. It also includes contempt, complaining and bitterness. So, not only does rebellion cause bitterness, but the mental state of bitterness is rebellion. We can confirm this by looking at the meaning of the word.

The word rebellion, “meri” is from the verbal root “marah

5308 מְרִי (merî): n.masc.; ≡ Str 4805; TWOT 1242a—1. LN 39.34–39.41 rebellion, revolt, i.e., an act. or state of disobedience, opposition, or resistance to one in authority (Dt 31:27; 1Sa 15:23; Ne 9:17; Job 23:2; Pr 17:11; Isa 30:9; Eze 2:5, 6, 7, 8; 3:9, 26, 27; 12:2,3, 9, 25; 17:12; 24:3; 44:6+); 2. LN 88.198–88.205 bitterness, i.e., of great mental distress, implying animosity and loathing against another (Job 23:2+); 3. LN 39.34–39.41 unit: בֵּן מְרִי (bēn merî) rebel, formally, son of rebellion, i.e., one in a state of revolt, implying a guilty or sinful state (Nu 17:25[EB 10]+)3

The Septuagint translates marah by parepikraino (“make bitter; make angry; provoke; be rebellious”) 7

Rebellion is likened to the sin of divination.

1 Samuel 15:23
23 “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of YHVH, He has also rejected you from being king.”

Divination is an occult practice and is an open door to demons. Rebellion will thus be the same.

Rebellion is as divination

Let’s define divination

7877 קֶסֶם (qě·sěm): n.[masc.]; ≡ Str 7081; TWOT 2044a—1. LN 33.281–33.285 divination, i.e., the pagan state or process of stating or determining the future (or hidden knowledge) through signs, omens, and supernatural powers (Nu 22:7; 23:23; Dt 18:10; 1Sa 15:23; 2Ki 17:17; Pr 16:10; Jer 14:14; Eze 13:6, 23; 21:26[EB 21]+), note: four broad classes of divination is

1. the position of stars

2. speaking with dead spirits

3. examining animal parts or potsherds

4. cast lots for a yes or no answer, see also domain LN 53.96–53.101; 2. LN 30.75–30.85 decision, conclusion, i.e., the result of a process and so make up one’s mind about a subject (Pr 16:10+), note: this decision is likely made by casting lots or other oracle-type processes; 3. LN 6.219 lot, i.e., a specially marked small stick, pebble, or shard thrown down for making decisions based on pagan views of chance, or believers using the lot perceived as quasi-chance, but believed to be guided by God (Eze 21:27[EB 22]+)3

The practice of any form of divination is rebellion against YHVH. We have previously written about prophecy in the sun, moon and stars and how we are to avoid this practice at all costs, yet it is done and is very popular among believers. Many believers are predicting end-time events based on the position of the stars and are interpreting the blood moons as omens. This is a form of divination and is rebellion against YHVH.

Consequences of rebellion

There are many consequences for rebellion. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire as a result of their “secret sins” and rebellion and it will be so again.

2 Peter 3:10
10 But the day of YHVH will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Those who repent may have a different outcome.

We will now look into a few consequences of rebellion. The first is separation from YHVH.

Separation between us and YHVH

Those who are rebellious will dwell in a parched land, meaning separated from YHVH.

Psalm 68:6
6 Elohim makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

A parched land is a dry inhabitable land. A barren desert.

Not hearing YHVH’s voice

Rebellion also causes us not to hear YHVH’s voice!

Ezekiel 12:2
2 “Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.

Rebellion can lead to deception

Rebellion also causes the minds of those who rebel to be blind, they have eyes but do not see. It darkens our spiritual eyesight or discernment and will cause us to be deceived.

2 Corinthians 4:4
4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of Elohim.

We have done a previous study on this subject, here is a link to the article: Will YHVH allow us to be deceived? When we rebel against YHVH, He can use satan to blind our minds from the truth, which is deception. This article specifically points to mixed worship and how it will cause us to be deceived, but any form of rebellion can cause this.

A cruel messenger

Also, a cruel messenger will be sent against those who are rebellious.

Proverbs 17:11
11 A rebellious man seeks only evil, So a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

Who or what is this cruel messenger?

426 אַכְזָרִי (ʾǎḵ·zā·rî): adj.; ≡ Str 394; TWOT 971b—LN 88.135–88.138 cruel, merciless, i.e., pertaining to ruthless behavior toward another (Pr 5:9; 11:17; 12:10; 17:11; Isa 13:9; Jer 6:23; 30:14; 50:42+) see also 425, 427; see also domain LN 88.75–88.823

4855 מַלְאָךְ (mǎl·ʾāḵ): n.masc.; ≡ Str 4397; TWOT 1068a—1. LN 12.28 angel, i.e., a supernatural being as a class creation that is God’s servant, esp. in informing or proclaiming a message from God (2Ki 1:3a), note: see theological works for identification as to the being of, such as in Zec 12:8 when capitalized in NIV מַלְאָךְ 3

The cruel messenger is an evil spirit or spirits that afflict us. This affliction may take on the form of sickness, mental illness or depression.

When we read about Saul, for this verse in 1 Samuel is about him, this is confirmed.

1 Samuel 16:14
14 Now the Spirit of YHVH departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from YHVH terrorized him.


Four things are linked in this verse in Deuteronomy 32:32. Secret sins, rebellion, bitterness and poison. This poison can refer to death and both poison and bitterness refer to a mental or physical state of anguish or hardship.

Spiritually, this poison and bitterness refer to the bondage created by our sin. This bondage is an unbearable load to carry and will cause us to break under the load. This bondage will either destroy us (as it did in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah) if we continue in our sin, or motivate us to return to YHVH and be restored to Him.

This is YHVH’s purpose with judgment. He is a merciful and loving Elohim. His desire is not for us to perish, but to return to Him and He will use different means to achieve this. The means by which this can be achieved can be through spiritual disease, for example depression or autoimmune diseases. You can read more about this in the article What do we do with disease.

Once we have made the decision to follow YHVH, He starts a work in us, a journey of refinement and healing if we allow Him. YHVH wants all of us, not a part, and will through this refinement process to remove all that stands between us and Him. He is faithful and will be by our side though we go through the valley of the shadow of death for this is how this process may feel to us. He will restore our souls.

Psalm 23:3–4
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

YHVH is with us. We are to embrace His discipline, His correction and praise Him, for He will complete that which He started in us.

Philippians 1:6
6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Messiah Y’shua.


  1. All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD, and Y’shua for Jesus
  2. Deere, J. S. (1985). Deuteronomy. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 319). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  4. Smith, S., & Cornwall, J. (1998). In The exhaustive dictionary of Bible names (p. 229). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos.
  5. Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 770). New York: United Bible Societies.
  7. Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 1, p. 193). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

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3 responses to “Secrets, Rebellion, Bitterness and Poison”

  1. Judith Dennis


  2. Sheryl

    Very timely message for me…thank-you!

  3. Vijayanand G

    Shalom brethren..
    Thank you for the wonderful teaching..

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