Lesson: Exodus 16:1-36
Key Verse: Exodus 16:4
Jesus speaks about the true bread which comes from heaven, that which gives life, testifying, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:32-35). After a few more words of counsel the Jews began to murmur at Jesus because he claimed, “I am the bread which came from heaven” (John 6:41). Jesus admonishes the people: “Murmur not among yourselves” (John 6:43). They are complaining, grumbling among themselves, and so unable to hear the truth that will save them. Jesus compares the bread which comes from heaven to that which their fathers ate in the wilderness. In the latter case the fathers are dead, the manna only supplying their needs for the wilderness journey. In the other, the bread which comes from heaven, “a man may eat thereof, and not die” (John 6:50).
The bread which gives life is Christ Himself: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). The cross of our Savior is stamped clearly upon the bread of heaven which has been given that we might have life, and have it abundantly and forever.
Our discontents, our putting down of others, any grumbling which are done secretly together, our lodging of complaints which come from within a selfish heart, block out the Light of the Son of righteousness and do harm to the message of the gospel. They hinder truth from getting a foothold in the heart of God’s child. The manna in the wilderness is a revelation of God’s providential love and care for His people, a salvation revealed in the Son who is alone the true bread of heaven.
The “congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of sin, which is between Elim and Sinai.” It was only the second month after their departure out of the land of Egypt and this great congregation of God’s people, “murmured against Moses and Aaron.” They complained that it would have been better to die at the hand of the Lord in Egypt, than to be hungry in the wilderness. Is it better to eat bread in the captivity of Satan, than to have your stomach growl in the presence of the Savior?
Their need was real and the Lord knew of their wants. The murmuring of the people revealed a lack of trust in Jehovah. Yet He embraced them, and tested them that it might be proved that they were His people and that they would walk in His way. The Lord spoke to Moses: “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.”
The Lord knows the grumbling of His people, and the needs which brought them about. Many times what we are missing in our lives leads us to look to self, and then blame others for the state we’re in. Our outlook produces grumbling and doubt rather than trust. It is at these times that we need the blessings which will test us that we might walk rightly before our God. Our prayer should be: “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth” (Psa. 26:2-3).
The Lord prepared food for His people. Each day they were to go out and gather in enough food and so prove whether they would walk in His law or not. The people were to know that what they received was not only by the hand of the Lord, against whom they rebelled, but that it was a gift of grace. They would again be reminded that their Deliverer from Egypt was Jehovah.
The “congregation of the children of Israel” was called together by Moses and Aaron. As they looked toward the wilderness “the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” The Lord God declared His glory to His people through the extraordinary revelation of the cloud, through His prophets, and through the giving of food from His heaven. The Lord confirmed the promise He had given His people through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. They shall know that He was the Lord their God.
Quails were directed, not only to fly over the camps of the Israelites, but to fall within their company, covering the ground. As the dew of morning returned to the sky a small “round thing” was seen on the ground. The children of Israel asked one another about this manna, and Moses said, “This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.” The people were commanded to gather it up, each one according to their need, and no one lacked in food.
Jehovah’s provision is sufficient for all, those who gather little will be satisfied, and those who gather much will feel no want. The Christian recognizes that which is received in his or her life is of the grace of God. And if it is of the Lord then we are to “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34). This promise comes in the light of our Savior’s admonition: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
Moses cautions the people not to take care for the morrow, to leave any of the food till morning. Some of the people did not listen and, leaving some until the morning, “it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.” Obedience is the key to one’s enjoying of what God has so graciously given them. Resting upon the providential care of the Lord who has graciously provided, even our salvation, through Jesus Christ, and obedience to His commands, produces happiness in the heart of the believer.
The people of God were also to be diligent in the gathering up of these gifts of God. They were to “gather it every morning,” for as the sun came up hot, “it melted.” Man spends whole days, even weeks without end, to gather their riches and fill their barns, without giving a nod to their needed obedience to the word of God, of their love for Christ, family or the saints. We can be so busy gathering the fruits of our labors that we forget and become idle in the pursuit of righteousness.
It was on the sixth day that the people gathered twice as much bread and, coming to Moses, were told, “This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord;” and they were to bake and boil that which was needed, in order that they may have food for the Sabbath. There would be no need to gather food on that seventh day.
The Lord again motivates His people to turn to Him and given Him the glory for both their deliverance and daily provisions. The day of rest, the Sabbath, was to be holy unto the Lord, sanctified to Him alone. There were still those who did not believe the Lord, even in the midst of blessing. They went out on the seventh morning and found nothing. The Lord then asks of Moses, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” The day of Sabbath rest is a proper sign of the Christian’s obedience to his Lord. The people were not to resist God’s law but to obey it. Therefore the Lord gives the Sabbath to His people. “So the people rested on the seventh day.” They would learn from this day of rest the meaning of both their creation and their deliverance.
There is a need for a memorial to pass on from generation to generation. Moses spoke of what the Lord had commanded that a part of the manna was to be kept, “that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Moses commanded Aaron and Aaron “laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.”
We too have a remembrance which constrains our sinfulness and strengthens our weaknesses, as we take of the bread and the cup and remember our Savior’s death until He comes. As Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever” (John 6:51).
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