Exodus 16: Bread from Heaven

1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

-We sometimes look back at these stories and kind of chuckle at the Israelites and why they grumbled so much when they get to see visible signs of God and witness miracles. But I challenge you, try going several days without food while also marching as part of millions including whining kids and let’s see how strong your faith is! The Israelites here are acting exactly as any other group of beings would act. They are no better or no worse, all of us have the same sinful nature and if we were at the same spiritual maturity level, we would act the same. We may be a little stronger, as Moses was, because God has worked with us in our lives, but perhaps not much.

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

-This “test” is dependence on God. God would like them to wait on Him for food and then He will rain it down every day but twice is much on the sixth day. This is to distinguish the sabbath day of rest so that they will not be doing work of gathering food on the Lord’s day but will have enough from the day before.

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

-Moses is rightfully telling the people that any complaints towards them about not having food or water or whatever it might be is a direct complaint to God. God knows all and just because the people can take Moses or Aaron to the side and complain does not mean that it “softens” the complaint. It is the same as if they got right in God’s face and said “DAMN YOU!”. Who are Moses and Aaron for them to complain against? They cannot provide food. We must always keep this in mind when we complain or don’t feel looked out for. Every time we worry and complain, we are telling God that He is failing to take care of us properly.

9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” 13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.

-Many speculations have been made on what this bread called “manna” actually is but in short, we don’t really know http://www.gotquestions.org/what-was-manna.html . Apparently, either it had some kind of spiritual properties like the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did or God actively caused the bread to go short on those who were greedy but be generous to those who were generous. There really is no telling but it does seem to be the case that this is the only time in all of history this bread existed. It began here and continued until Joshua lead the people into the promised land. This was a miracle 6 days a week that would continue for 40 years. It just shows the lengths God will go to accomplish His purposes. If hundreds of thousands of people in the desert have no food, He will miraculously make bread appear six days a week to feed everyone to abundance for them to survive. Just think what He might do for you? And Omer is a unit of measure for volume believed to be about 3.64 liters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omer_%28unit%29 .

19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. 22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.” 27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

-It is so great that we have a God of patience. I can’t help but wonder why God wouldn’t just strike dead anyone who disobeyed but He is trying to teach, not punish. God is not an angry God and instead is loving and merciful. He gives everyone a chance at obedience and even allows us to fail, sometimes often, without suffering all the consequences. There appeared to be no consequences to those that tried looking for more the seventh day. Whether these people were just hungry and wanted more or still, somehow, thought perhaps this was a natural phenomenon despite all the miracles up this point, we don’t know. The point is, the people are not being obedient. I compare this time to the training of a dog. The dog will fail over and over again until they finally get it right. The process is so burdensome yet so rewarding when the dog is finally trained. Something interesting about dogs is they do not understand the concept of pointing. If you point your finger at something, they will look at your finger, never at what you’re pointing at. The Israelites seem to be doing the same here, as we do so often. We are looking at God’s finger instead of where He is pointing. We can read this passage and focus entirely on the science of where the bread came from (the finger), or we can look at the significance of the bread and what God is doing here. God is taking care of the people, teaching them dependence, and training their society to observe the Sabbath and keep it Holy.

31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)

-At first, the verse seems to be telling people to keep jars of manna to tell generations later but actually God is telling Moses to keep one jar. We find out what happens to this one jar in Hebrews 9:3-4, “Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.” These items were all kept together and when the temple was destroyed, God sent these artifacts to heaven to keep them from enemy hands and they will reappear again in the new earth. John saw these artifacts in Revelation 11:19 when he writes, “The God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen within His temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.” So the Ark of the Covenant along with the jar of manna is in heaven right now.

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