17 July 2018Exodus 16:1-35 (Bread from heaven)
“Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, “Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.”’” (v. 9)
Psalm: Psalm 104:24-35
Just a month after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived at the strangely-named wilderness of Sin, the location of which remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that they were unhappy, complaining about a food shortage. As slaves, they had at least been fed sufficiently to do the tasks allotted to them. Now, they were blind to those days of bondage, grumbling that anything was better than their current predicament.
So, God proposed both a solution and a test of trust and obedience. Bread would rain down from heaven, and they were to collect just enough for that day’s needs (verse 4). On the sixth day they were to gather enough for that day and the next (verse 6), remembering that God had rested on the seventh day of creation, which was set apart to the Lord their God (Deuteronomy 5:14).
They complained to Moses and Aaron rather than directly to God, but their complaints were heard, and if they looked toward the place where God appeared in the cloud (Exodus 13:21), there would be a plentiful supply of meat and bread appear, and they would know “that I am the Lord your God” (v. 12).
The meat would be quail, accompanied by the mysterious ‘manna’, appearing like the morning dew, which could be collected and eaten.
God’s test was to remind them they should “not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). They were to live in a state of daily dependence on God. It would be nice to think that they were both grateful and obedient, but human nature being as it is, some listened, others didn’t, food was left and went rotten. Others forgot to collect extra on the sixth day, then complained when there was none on the seventh.
The message eventually sunk in, the Sabbath was respected, and stomachs were satisfied. In memory of this moment Moses and Aaron had the people store a portion of manna in a jar, as a memorial to God’s goodness and provision.
- Jesus described himself as “the bread of life” (John 6:35). How dependent are you upon God in your daily life?
- How quickly do you find yourself forgetting the good times when life gets difficult? How can you avoid this from happening?
- What mementos or photographs have you got that remind you of your own spiritual journey?