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BREAD FROM HEAVEN FOR THE WILDERNESS
Just one month following the Passover in Egypt, Israel, leaving the refreshment of Elim's oasis, came into "the wilderness of sin" (v.1). Sin means "thorn," and a thorn is an aborted attempt to bear fruit, which issues rather in that which is harmful and painful. In our Christian history too we find that the world through which we pass is a wilderness full of thorns, or in other words, "the sin which so easily ensnares us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Israel's reaction to this barrenness and lack of food was to give way to their sinful nature and complain against Moses and Aaron (v.2). How sadly we resemble Israel! Certainly this selfish murmuring would not produce food and any other good result. But the trials of the wilderness bring out such foolish workings of sin in our own hearts. They say they wish they had died in the land of Egypt while they sat by the fleshpots and had plenty to eat. But they forgot the rigorous bondage under which they had suffered with bitter complaints! They accuse Moses and Aaron of bringing them out of Egypt, though only recently they had sung in triumph to the Lord, thanking Him for His great deliverance. How is it possible that their eyes had become so dim, and in so short a time? Just recently too God had told Moses to throw a tree into the bitter waters of Marah and they became sweet. Why did they not simply appeal in faith to God on this fresh occasion of need? Complaining is not trusting God.
Yet immediately God graciously intervenes to tell Moses He will rain bread from heaven for Israel, that they might go out each day and gather what was necessary for them (v.4). This was marvelous grace, yet at the same time it would be a test, for such grace should produce a real response of thankful obedience to the Lord. There was provision made for all, as well as occupation for their hands.
On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much as on other days, in order to provide for the sabbath, when they were not to gather at all (v.5). Typically this teaches there will be no labor of gathering in eternity, but such labor increases as eternity nears.
Moses and Aaron speak to the children of Israel, to subdue them before the Lord, telling them that at evening they will have a fresh reminder that the Lord (not Moses and Aaron) has brought them out of Egypt, then the next morning they would discern the glory of the Lord in a way they had not imagined.
God had heard the murmurings of the children of Israel against Him: they may say they were complaining only against Moses and Aaron, but what were they but mere representatives of God? Therefore Moses insists that their murmurings were not against Moses and Aaron, but against the Lord (v.8).
When the sun became hot, the manna on the ground melted. Therefore, the time to gather was in the morning, as indeed is true for us today spiritually. The Lord Jesus Himself sought the blessing and guidance of the Father "morning by morning" (Isaiah 50:4). If we are lax at the beginning of the day, this will affect us for the rest of the day, but diligence to begin with will make the whole day brighter.
THE SABBATH SET APART
In obedience to the Lord's instruction (v.5) the Israelites gathered twice as much on the sixth day as on other days (v.22), and Moses informed the leaders that the Lord intended this because the seventh day (the sabbath) was holy, and they were not to gather on that day, but what was left over from the sixth day was to be used on the sabbath. They did so and found that in this case the manna was not corrupted (v.24).
As God had told them, no manna was given on the sabbath. God's day of rest was not to be interfered with by the labor of gathering. In spite of this, some of the people went out with the intention of gathering (v.27) and God placed the blame for this on Moses, the representative of the people (v.28), stressing that the people were to strictly observe the sabbath by remaining in their own places.
The manna's taste was like wafers made with honey (v.31), and a pot of manna was laid up in the tabernacle for the observance of future generations (vs.32-34). Then we are told Israel continued to eat manna forty years, until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 16". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20