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Saturday, April 17, 2021

EXODUS – GOD’s MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE of ISRAEL FROM EGYPT – Chapter SIXTEEN

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

EXODUS 16: “BREAD FROM HEAVEN” – by Sonny Islas, Facebook video

INTRODUCTION: At this point in the Exodus story, it’s been one month since they left Egypt. These Hebrews experienced many hardships, but also saw GOD’s provisions, faithfully given. Yet they complain and complain – they just never seemed to get it. That is why after forty years, the first generation of these Hebrews was not allowed to entire into the promised land – because of their unbelief (HEB 3:7-13)! They’re now one month in, on this new relationship with God – Yahweh The LORD. In chapter 14 God splits the Red Sea, in chapter 15 they perform a ‘musical’ – just kidding; no, they sing a song of victory with Moses leading the choir. So far so good.

EXODUS 16:1-3
1 And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. 2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger
.

These were some mean, grumpy kind of people – they were ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry!). There was no bread in sight! Here we’re going to see how quickly comfort and singing can turn into complaining and sorrow!

Vs. 1 
And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 

This was just the name of this place, likely associated with Mount Sinai, but it could also be called the wilderness of ‘sin’ because of the people’s constant mummering and complaining – sinful!

(Exodus 15:27) In Elim they enjoyed twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees which proved abundant shade and were packed with sweet dates (dates are what Egyptian palm trees are known for). NOW they are in the Wilderness of Zin where their food ran out and where no food is present. At this point – where a hint of difficulty replaced their comforts, they turned their singing (EXODUS 15 as taught by pastor Albert Lopez) into complaining. See how quickly they changed? 

They were in a place of provision and blessing, eating food that the LORD gave them, drinking refreshing water – and there is a song and dance. Remove them from those blessings, even though the LORD was still with them! – but they forgot that - and they start complaining and accusing – wishing even that they had just died in Egypt.

This dramatic desire to complain and quit, reminds me of the parable of the sower and the different soils – mainly the seed that fell on stony ground. In Mark 4:16-17 Jesus says, “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground (stony heart) who, when they hear the Word, immediately receive it with gladness (like the Israelites singing with Moses); and they have no root in themselves (God’s Word and His promises took no root in their hearts), and so endure only for a time (they don’t last and can’t hang on). Afterward, when tribulation (for the Israelites it’s running out of food) or persecution arises for the Word’s sake, immediately they stumble (they complain and throw in the towel).”

So like these Israelites, some professing believers start their journey with GOD and as soon as they hit a bump in the road, they throw in the towel and say, “I don’t want to be a part of this anymore! It stinks being a Christian! I had it better in ‘Egypt’ (a type for the sinful world). They believed the lie!

Let’s take a quick look at where the Israelites went wrong. How did their singing turn into complaining? AND how did their complaining affect them? So, what sparks a complaining attitude and what are the effects of that complaining attitude?

Vs. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

1. What sparked a complaining attitude? They quickly forgot about the greatness and goodness of God – WHO He is and WHAT He is capable of. It’s when you forget about how good GOD is, and how faithful He is, you’re going to become discontent and take your eyes off of GOD, putting them on your circumstances instead.

If He can totally embarrass the entire land of Egypt with 10 plagues (which the Israelites didn’t have to make any effort or contribution, it was all GOD’s doing!), split the Red Sea (they didn’t have to fetch some buckets and help GOD part this sea, it was all GOD’s doing!), He drowned the Egyptian Army and told Israel, stand still, and watch Me – look what I will do for you, and against your enemies! 

He turned bitter water into sweet water and park them in Elim (lots of wells and date-stuffed palm trees for them to enjoy!) – how hard would it be for God to provide them food (God’s greatness and goodness took no root in their stony hearts)? GOD is a generous GOD and gracious and He not only gave us His Son, but now, how much more so shall He freely give us all things along with Him (ROM 8:32)?

It’s the same thing here! They forgot how great GOD was, how good – but this had no root in their stony hearts.

Why is it that some come to church during the good times, but as soon as they get hit with bad times, they disappear? They didn’t see the greatness and goodness of GOD was never truly planted in their hearts! They didn’t see GOD and His Cross as glorious, they didn’t see the salvation that Jesus has to offer as glorious! 

We can sometimes become forgetful – forgetting all that GOD has done for us, how many prayers He has answered for us; we forget even the blessed little details in life, like getting up in the morning, being able to breath, and cook up some breakfast and enjoy it all with a smile. In the midst of innumerable blessings – and one bad thing happens and suddenly, it’s the end of the world!!

Let’s get our focus back on GOD again and acknowledge Him in all of the ways He is ever so good to us, His children!

2. What are the effects of a complaining attitude? It all starts when we take our attention and our hearts from GOD. But what are the effects? Confusion, distrust (the opposite of trust, of faith), a desire to quiet, irrational thinking and speaking that rubs off on others.
Once you start down this road, everything starts to look far worse than it really is. You begin to mis-read people and their motives just as the Hebrews did here with Moses (and indirectly, with GOD!).

Vs. 3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

The Israelites became delusional, as they began to think and say that it was better in Egypt where there was plenty of food; but downplayed their harsh slavery. At this point, all they could think of was their creature comforts, their empty stomachs, and their taste buds; never mind Pharaoh’s cruelty and that they had the LORD Himself with them! 

It’s crazy what complaining can do to us. Complaining takes your eyes off the bigger and better picture – God, His Word, His loving character, His faithful promises, perfect will and divine sovereignty. We start deifying our problems – in other words, our problems become greater than our view of GOD. They appear to be bigger than GOD Himself – a lie of the devil!
We start thinking of those fond memories of our B.C. (Before we came to know Christ) days and all the ‘fun’ we had then – not remembering the dark times, the sorrow, the emptiness of life. . . 

Listen, a Christian who is experiencing hell on earth is still a million times better than a non-believer who is enjoying the finest things in life; a struggling, suffering Christian is better off than a rich and happy non-believer – because in the end we win. We have the LORD Jesus Christ with us! The Israelites seem to not understand this; they were duped into irrationality. “The Egyptians have it better than us!” How could they think this? Because they didn’t know GOD, they didn’t know His heart – sure, they saw lots of His miracles, but they didn’t know GOD personally!

Again, complaining makes us irrational. It makes us exaggerate, where everything becomes worse than it really is. i.e. the Israelites were acting like everyone was starving and that they were dropping like flies. But the reality was that they had just run out of food that they had and instead of praying and trusting in the God of creation, they decided instead to complain.

Remember, complaining can also cause us to accuse others of wrong motives. They become delusional and doubtful and accuse Moses, their leader (who has shown nothing but love for them) of wanting them to die in the wilderness. Imagine being Moses’ shoes? One man standing in the middle of 1 Million+ complainers? Constant complainers are never, ever a blessing! People hate to be around them and their negativity. It gets to a point where Moses is so stressed over these people that he begs GOD to take his life! 

So let’s not follow their example; if we find ourselves in the wilderness, let’s not complain about it, let’s pray about it! Let’s seek GOD about it! It’s important to make our complaint to the LORD as David did (PSALM 142:2), not before others in public!

Yes, you can bring a complaint to a godly brother or sister in seeking counsel, but to complain for complaining’s sake, the people around you will wish (as did Moses) that they didn’t exist.
Don’t be like that – be the kind of person that sees and trusts GOD; that will see the bright side in the light of Truth! It’s not always easy to do that, but such people who do, are the most pleasant people to be around!

EXODUS 16:4-31

It’s important to realize that GOD hears our complaints – even if we don’t direct them to Him, but to others – who are mere human beings, who ultimately can’t answer such complaints or needs as effectively as GOD can.

But in truth, all complaints, whether addressed to GOD or not, are against GOD – why? Because He is the One Who is in charge of the life of believers! If you’re facing heavy circumstances and trials, it’s because GOD allowed them into your life (with the exception of making unwise decisions and choices – then we are just reaping the troubles that result from ungodly, unwise decisions).

4 Then said the Lord unto 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. 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. 6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: 7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.

Here we see God’s patience with a multitude of unbelieving complainers. God graciously rains down bread from heaven! God is so good to us even when we don’t deserve it!
We learn here that God can provide in the least expected way – either providentially like He did with raising up Joseph to deliver Jacob and his sons from the famine or like He does here, just supernaturally raining ‘Twinkies' from heaven’.

One commentator notes that the bread didn’t just fall into their mouths, but that they still had to work to eat in that they had to walk around and gather it up. God doesn’t like lazy. God commanded that the people gather a certain amount (not more or less). 

vs.16 This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: 'Let every man gather it according to each one's need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.

Every day (daily) so that He may test them, whether they would walk in His law or not. On the sixth day (our Friday) they were to gather twice as much.
GOD provides His blessing, but also instruction on how to receive this blessing. It was a test by GOD to see if His people would be obedient and walk in His ways. But sadly, we see here in the next verse:

Vs. 20 Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them

GOD didn’t send down His Son so that you can do whatever you want with Him; He was sent so that you can obey His every Word! It’s the same here with Israel – GOD is giving them life (physically speaking), providing them with bread and quails, but they were to respect Him enough to obey and honor His instruction, and trust Him daily for His provisions. 

When they were commanded to not leave any leftovers for the next day, those who didn’t listen, God made their bread rot which resulted in a stench and worms. This points to how disobedience stinks and how obedience is a sweet smelling aroma unto the LORD. This goes for everything in the Christians life, relationships that dishonors God stink, worship and ministry that dishonors God stinks. 

This is the same with our worship, with our ministries – if we do it our way, it will stink in GOD’s nose. If we do it His way, this will be a sweet aroma!

vs. 22 And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

God was testing them to see if they would follow His instructions. If they respected Him enough to obey Him. God was testing them to see if they would trust Him daily (like the LORD’s model prayer – “Give us our daily bread.”). God wants a day-by-day trust in Him. God had them gather twice as much on the sixth day to prepare them for the near future on keeping the Sabbath day holy – a day of rest and worship – not work (in their case gathering bread).

Just as Israel was to rest on the Sabbath day by not gathering manna, but enjoying the double-portion that they gathered the sixth day and then enjoy it for the next two days. The rest we enjoy today is in JESUS, not the ceremonial Sabbath of the Old Testament, and Jesus rose on the seventh day, and so we enjoy our Sabbath rest – Jesus, by worshiping Him on the day that He resurrected (this was the practice of the church from the beginning).
So these stories were written for our example to follow:

Romans 15:4
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope
.

By the way, God doesn’t test us to find out if we would obey, He already knows – it’s so that we would know where we truly stand with God and if we would learn from our disobedience. We need to change anything in our lives, in our hearts that doesn’t follow the LORD’s ways that He instructs us with in His Word. Let us show our love for the LORD by obeying His commandments (JOHN 14:15,21). Remember that all of the commandments of GOD can be summed up in just two:

Matthew 22:37-40
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets
.

“The law and the prophets”, meaning the entirety of the Old Testament.
And for us, the church, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are to go a step further and higher:

John 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I [Jesus] have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another
.

This Bread from Heaven was a picture and foreshadow of Jesus who is our Bread from Heaven. In John 6:51 Jesus says, I Am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever (unlike those who ate the physical heavenly bread and died in the wilderness); and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” 

God provided manna in the wilderness for the children of Israel for the duration of their 40 years in the wilderness, and this food kept them alive all of that time, preserving their physical life.

Yet Jesus gave His flesh (this “living bread of life…from heaven”) on the cross and anyone who take Him in by faith will live forever! Certainly, our physical bodies die, but in that newness of life that Jesus provides us with, we will enjoy resurrected bodies with our immortal souls and spirits.

The nonbeliever looks to food to keep them alive – and it will, but only physically. The meat that the Son gives us to eat will cause us to live forever, and we have a hunger for GOD, and He promises that those who hunger for Him – for righteousness, shall be filled (Matt 5:6)! Or you can hunger for the food that will rot in this world, and you won’t be filled with righteousness, with Jesus, with His eternal life!

This awesome scene where the LORD miraculously provides bread and quail was also a picture of Jesus who miraculously provided bread and fish for the multitudes in Matt. 14, Luke 9 and Mark 6.

“As fine frost on the ground”: Imagine the scene – there is bread slowly floating down like large snowflakes to the ground. This too was a picture of God’s gentleness. This is a picture of when God sent His Son, “the living bread”, He came as a gentle babe.

The bread was called manna which means “what is this?” This is how Israel responded to Jesus the living bread when He stepped on the scene. In Matthew 8:27 after Jesus calmed the storm the disciples “marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” In Matthew 13:55 the crowds said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Everyone who encountered Jesus in a sense asked, “what is this?

This manna tasted “like wafers made with honey”.

vs. 31 And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey

This was also pointing to the sweetness of Jesus’ character and words. It must have tasted like a Mexican bunuelo (a fried dough covered in cinnamon, sugar, and honey).

EXODUS 16:32-36
32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. 36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah
.

God wanted Aaron to save some of the bread as a memorial of God’s supernatural provisions in the wilderness.
This manna was eventually placed in the Ark of the Covenant. The gold-plated box that was placed in the Holy of Holies where God’s presence dwelt between the cherubim.

Hebrews 9:4, regarding the earthly Tabernacle (Tent of Worship) says, “which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant (The 10 Commandments)”.

These emblems to be stored in the ark of the covenant were types of Christ: the manna representing the Bread of Life and the rod (a lifeless stick that budded) represented the resurrected LORD of Glory! It’s all about JESUS and His Holy Word!

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