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Israel, having left the Red sea, journeyeth into the wilderness, and from Elim arrives at Sin. The people murmur for want of bread. God supplies them miraculously, in a method till then unknown. Manna is rained from heaven, and quails cover the camp. The people are taught how to gather their daily provisions; and a pot of manna is, at the command of God, laid up for a memorial. These are the contents of this Chapter.
¶ 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.
If the Reader will be at the pains to calculate, he will find that Israel had been just a month from Egypt, when they arrived at the wilderness of Sin. See Exodus 12:17-18 .
By the whole, may we not, according to scripture in other instances, suppose it meant the greater part. Genesis 19:4 ; Numbers 16:41 .
What an awful instance of the desperately wicked state of the human heart! Is this the same Israel which so lately sung God's mercies at the Red sea? Did Israel indeed live in such plenty by the flesh pots in Egypt? And would it have been better to have died in Egypt, and by the hand of the Lord too, in a way of judgment, than merely to suffer a little temporary inconvenience of hungers. Psa_106:7-8; Psa_106:13 . Reader! have you never detected your heart in murmuring? If you have not, I have, But the issue hath always proved the truth of that precious scripture, Nehemiah 9:33 . That's a charming receipt against repining, under slender provision, Luke 22:35 .
Observe, how the Lord magnifies the riches of his grace. Might not the Lord have justly said, I will rain down fire and brimstone to destroy them. Compare what the Lord did in this instance with what he did in the case of Sodom; and then ask the question of your own heart, what greater evidence do you require of distinguishing mercy! Genesis 19:24 . Make the subject personal, and say as Paul did, Romans 3:9 . Then turn to that scripture, Ezekiel 36:31-32 .
Observe, how frequent notice is taken that the Lord knew the murmurings of the people. Observe what Moses saith, that, in effect, it is with God they were displeased, and not with his servants. So the apostle reasoneth, Romans 13:1-2 . Observe, though God pardons sin, he chastiseth the sinner; see Jeremiah 2:19 . There is a remarkable passage to this effect, Psalms 99:8 . And again, Numbers 14:19-24 .
May we not spiritualize this passage, and say, when the word of God is delivered by his sent servants, it is in fact God himself speaking in the word, and by the word. So Paul thought, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 .
There are two sweet and precious points intimated in these words; the one is, that God undertakes to supply all the wants of his people. Their eyes are to be taken off from Moses, and to be directed to the Lord. John 6:32 . The other is, that thereby he proves himself to be their God, and they his people. How much Moses, in the after stages of Israel's history, dwells upon those glorious truths? Deuteronomy 32:9-14; Deuteronomy 32:9-14 . Reader! may it be your happiness and mine, to know that the Lord is our God in the same covenant way, and from the same covenant tokens.
Some have thought that the quail is the same as the locust. But the Psalmist, in recording this mercy of the Lord, speaks of it as a feathered fowl having wings. Psalms 78:27 .
Manna, or as it is, Man-hu; that is, what is it? A nameless, great mercy: sweet and pleasant to the taste, and probably from its qualities medicinal also. Under how many and various ways was it recommended to the Israelites? It was from above. It was the Lord's immediate gift. It formed a daily supply; new and pure every morning. It was a stated mercy, not merely for a day or two, but for forty years continuance. Is not that petition in the Lord's prayer founded upon it: Give us this day our daily bread? And is not that precept, Mat_6:25-26; Mat_6:34 . But Reader! let you and I look at it spiritually. Oh! how sweet is it to behold in it Jesus. Hail, thou dear Redeemer! thou art indeed the bread of life, the heavenly, the hidden manna. Oh! may I eat of thee, and live forever. See John 6:35-58 ; Revelation 2:17 .
An Omer is about 5 pints of our measure.
The apostle is the best commentator on this, 2 Corinthians 8:15 . Probably they gathered in families, or households; and so each had his proportion after. But is there not a sweet spiritual sense here, respecting the measure of the gospel? He that gathers most of Jesus, hath nothing over, nothing to spare. And the soul that hath the least of Jesus, can lack nothing beside. Ephesians 4:7 .
Sweet thought suggested here! Faith wants no hoards. And he who most knows God, will best know how to trust him. But beside this instruction, I think there is another equally sweet. Considered as a figure of better things to come, a whole Christ, a finished salvation, is perhaps implied. Let no man leave off this. See by way of clue to this subject, Exodus 12:10 .
Oh! the sad mistrusting heart of unbelief, Reader! do you not sometimes groan from the indwelling remains of it? See Psalms 78:19-20 .
Psalms 136:25 .
See Exodus 16:5 , and Leviticus 25:20-21 .
The process of preparing the manna we read, Numbers 11:8 .
The preservation of the Manna, pure and sweet on the sabbath day, while on the other days if laid by it bred worms, and stank, plainly shows that it was not the effect of natural causes. And is there not a spiritual sense in this also, when our corrupt nature is preserved by divine grace? 1 Peter 1:5 ; 1 Corinthians 5:6 .
Hebrews 4:1-3 .
Reader! observe the continued instances of disobedience. Look within, and see whether similar testimonies are not there.
I could wish that the jealousy which the Lord in this place, and in numberless other passages in the Bible, manifests for the observance of his holy day, was made the serious subject of consideration by all ranks and orders in this land. Oh! what a volume would it furnish if the profanations of only a single Lord's day, in this highly enlightened country, could be gathered together into one mass of particulars. Doth not the Lord say of us, as Isaiah 1:4 ? And may we not say as Isaiah 1:9 ?
May we not spiritualize this verse? Is not Jesus, when first revealed, a secret name? Exodus 32:29 ; Judges 13:18 . And what saith the Church of him? Song of Solomon 5:16 .
The apostle takes notice of this, Hebrews 9:4 .
Here was a standing miracle of God's power in the preservation of this food, which 24 hours could not keep pure in its own natural state. And was not this a type of the Church, amidst all her foes, and her own tendency to corruptions.
The testimony was the ark, which held the tables of the law. Exodus 25:16 .
Observe, the food of Israel ceased not through all their journey. Though they were continually rebellious and full of murmurings, the Lord's mercies still continued. They were froward children, but they were children still. Gracious God! well might they sing: for thy mercy endureth ever. Psalms 136:0 , throughout. But is there not a spiritual meaning here? Did the manna cease not until they got to Canaan? And is not Jesus the heavenly manna, the food of his people, until the whole of their pilgrimage is over? Lord! may I know what it is to eat of thy body, that I may have eternal life abiding in me.
An Ephah being 10 times as much in measure as an Omer, must contain nearly 50 pints English.
My soul! learn in Israel's history what the Israel of God, more or less, hath been, in all ages. We left them in the former chapter sitting under their palm trees, and blessing God in their fruitful wells of water. But, when brought for a moment only into a wilderness state, a little disappointment soon produceth murmuring, Oh, my God! pardon thy servant in this also. How often have I repined, and dared to think hardly of God, when like Israel he had only been leading me into the wilderness, to speak comfortably to me there; when difficulties have been induced, perhaps with no other view than but to afford the better opportunity to magnify the Lord's graciousness. Lord! grant that past experiences may afford strength for grace in full exercise, to rely upon thy future assurances. And wherever most straitened, and shut up in creature confidence, may divine faithfulness be then sweetest to my heart. Thou hast promised, and that's enough: Bread shall be given, water shall be sure: and my defense shall be the munition of rocks.
But chiefly in this chapter, in the view of Israel's food, and the manna sent them from heaven, Lord give me grace to behold thee, thou heavenly manna, thou true bread of life, which art thy Father's gift to the famished souls of poor sinners. Lord, in direct defiance of all my murmuring and sinful thoughts, oh! do thou descend, as thou art in thyself pure, holy, and precious, new and renewing me every morning. And while the Holy Spirit is unfolding thee to my view as the Father's gracious gift, and exciting an increasing appetite after thee to be filled, do thou grant that I may so feed on thy body broken, and thy blood shed, that I may live by thee. Let not my portion be like some of the unbelieving Israelites, who tempted Christ, and with whom he was not pleased: but may it be my happiness to know by an heart-felt experience, that thou art the bread of life which came down from heaven, of which, whosoever eateth shall live forever. Lord, evermore give me this bread!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Exodus 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20