Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"God Provides Manna and Quail" (Exodus 16)

God promised Abraham multiple descendants and a homeland to bless the world (Gen.12:1-3).  Abraham’s descendants multiplied in Egypt but they became enslaved. They cried out in and the Lord remembered His covenant (Exodus 1:7, 2:23) and He called Moses to help deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. The Lord sent several plagues upon Egypt to deliver Israel and to reveal Himself to both the Israelites and the Egyptians (6:6-7, 7:3-5). The Israelites were to slaughter a year-old male lamb and put the blood on their doorframes. Then the Lord ‘passed over’ the Israelite households and brought judgment upon the ‘gods of Egypt’ by striking down every firstborn in Egypt (12:12).

Pharaoh let the Israelites go and the Israelites left Egypt and many other people accompanied them. The Lord led the Israelites to camp by the Red Sea and the Pharaoh sent his troops to pursue them. Moses stretched out his staff over the sea and the Lord divided the sea and the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Pharaoh’s army followed them into the sea but the Lord downed the Pharaoh’s entire army in the sea. The Israelites saw the Lord’s power and they trusted in the Lord and in His servant Moses. After a celebration, Moses and the Israelites continued their journey through the desert towards their promised land. This brings us to the story of the Lord providing the Israelites with ‘quail and manna’ (Exodus 16) so watch the video and read the comments below. 
In the Exodus the Lord delivered His people from Egyptian slavery and led them towards their promised land by the pillar of cloud and fire. In this story God miraculously provided food for the Israelites in the wilderness and tested them to see if they would follow his instructions. The Israelite community came to the ‘Desert of Sin’ where they grumbled against Moses and Aaron. They selectively thought back to Egypt and remembered having food had meat to eat. Then they accused Moses leading them into the desert only to starve them to death. They don’t recall crying out in their slavery and God delivering them out of Egypt and drowning Pharaoh’s army in the sea. Yet, despite their grumbling the Lord promised Moses that He would “rain down bread from heaven”. Then the Israelites were to gather enough for each day, and twice as much on the sixth day. In this way the Lord would test the Israelites to see if they will obey Him.

So the Israelites grumbled but God graciously provided them with meat so that they would know the Lord had brought them out of Egypt. In the morning they would see the glory of the Lord when they were provided plenty of bread. Then when Aaron was speaking, the Israelites looked up and saw the glory of the Lord in the pillar of cloud.  So God promised to graciously provide for them and He manifested His presence among them so that they would know that the Lord is God. God did as Moses said and in the evening quail covered the camp and in the morning a fine, flake-like thing was on the ground. The Israelites asked what it was and Moses said, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat”. They were to gather what they needed and share what they gathered so that no one had too much or too little.  Moses also told them not to leave any of it until morning. Earlier they had seen the power of God displayed in the drowning of Pharaoh’s army and they had trusted Moses. But now some of them ignore Moses and when the ‘bread’ they kept smelled bad and was full of maggots. Then they were told to gather twice as much as usual on the sixth day because the seventh day was a day of Sabbath rest and there wouldn’t be any to gather. They were to cook what they wanted and to keep what was left over for the next day. Some of them went out to gather it on the seventh day and they found none. The Lord considered this to be a refusal to keep His commands.

Now the Israelites called the bread that God rained down from heaven ‘manna’. It was white like coriander seed and it tasted like wafers made with honey. Aaron put some of the ‘manna’ in a jar to be kept before the Lord so that generations of Israelites could see the bread the Lord had provided in the desert when He brought them out of Egypt. The Lord provided the ‘manna’ for the Israelites to eat for forty years till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. Surely, the story teaches that God is fully capable of providing for his people. God even provided graciously for them despite their grumbling against Him. The way God dealt with the grumbling of the Israelites reveals God’s great patience. It also shows us that the Israelites didn’t deserve God’s gracious provision and guidance (Ex. 16:2, 7–9, 12). So God wants us to trust Him to be the one who provides for us. Therefore God expects us to obey him particularly because of all that He has done for us. 

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