Exodus 15:22-18:27 4/11/2010
In the wilderness of Shur the Israelites had no water. At Marah they had water, but it was bitter; so that they could not drink it. God can make bitter to us that from which we promise ourselves most, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants, and disappointments in the creature, may drive us to the Creator, in whose favour alone true comfort is to be had. In this distress the people fretted, and quarrelled with Moses. Hypocrites may show high affections, and appear earnest in religious exercises, but in the time of temptation they fall away. Even true believers, in seasons of sharp trial, will be tempted to fret, distrust, and murmur. But in every trial we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour out our hearts before him. We shall then find that a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. Moses did what the people had neglected to do; he cried unto the Lord. And God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree which he cast into the waters, when, at once, they were made sweet. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation. But a rebellious Israelite shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian. The threatening is implied only, the promise is expressed. God is the great Physician. If we are kept well, it is he that keeps us; if we are made well, it is he that recovers us. He is our life and the length of our days. Let us not forget that we are kept from destruction, and delivered from our enemies, to be the Lordâ€™s servants. At Elim they had good water, and enough of it. Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the bitter waters of Marah, that shall not always be their lot. Let us not faint at tribulations.
1. (Exodus 16:2-4) The Israelites come to the wilderness of Sin. They
murmur for food, God promises bread from heaven.
Exodus. 16:2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, â€œIf only we had died by the LORDâ€™s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.â€4 Then the LORD said to Moses, â€œI will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
The provisions of Israel, brought from Egypt, were spent by the middle of the second month, and they murmured. It is no new thing for the greatest kindness to be basely represented as the greatest injuries. They so far undervalue their deliverance, that they wished they had died in Egypt; and by the hand of the Lord, that is, by the plagues which cut off the Egyptians. We cannot suppose they had plenty in Egypt, nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness, while they had flocks and herds: none talk more absurdly than murmurers. When we begin to fret, we ought to consider, that God hears all our murmurings. God promises a speedy and constant supply. He tried whether they would trust him, and rest satisfied with the bread of the day in its day. Thus he tried if they would serve him, and it appeared how ungrateful they were. When God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know he was their Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know he was their God.
2. (Exodus 16:11-15,18) God sends quails and manna.
Exod. 16:11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 â€œI have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, â€˜At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.â€™ â€ 13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, â€œWhat is it?â€ For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, â€œIt is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.
At evening the quails came up, and the people caught with ease as many as they needed. The manna came down in dew. They called it â€œManna, Manhu,â€ which means, â€œWhat is this?â€ â€œIt is a portion; it is that which our God has allotted us, and we will take it, and be thankful.â€ It was pleasant food; it was wholesome food. The manna was rained from heaven; it appeared, when the dew was gone, as a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost, like coriander seed, in colour like pearls. The manna fell only six days in the week, and in double quantity on the sixth day; it bred worms and became offensive if kept more than one day, excepting on the sabbath. The people had never seen it before. It could be ground in a mill, or beaten in a mortar, and was then made into cakes and baked. It continued the forty years the Israelites were in the wilderness, wherever they went, and ceased when they arrived in Canaan. All this shows how different it was from any thing found before, or found now. They were to gather the manna every morning. We are hereby taught, To be prudent and diligent in providing food for ourselves and our households; with quietness working, and eating our own bread, not the bread of idleness or deceit. Godâ€™s bounty leaves room for manâ€™s duty; it did so even when manna was rained; they must not eat till they have gathered. To be content with enough. Those that have most, have for themselves but food and raiment; those that have least, generally have these; so that he who gathers much has nothing over, and he who gathers little has no lack. There is not such a disproportion between one and another in the enjoyment of the things of this life, as in the mere possession of them. To depend upon Providence: let them sleep quietly, though they have no bread in their tents, nor in all their camp, trusting that God, with the following day, would bring them in their daily bread. It was surer and safer in Godâ€™s storehouse than their own, and would come thence sweeter and fresher. See here the folly of hoarding. The manna laid up by some, who thought themselves wiser, and better managers, than their neighbours, and who would provide lest it should fail next day, bred worms, and became good for nothing. That will prove to be most wasted, which is covetously and distrustfully spared. Such riches are corrupted, James 5:2,3 . The same wisdom, power, and goodness that brought food daily from above for the Israelites in the wilderness, brings food yearly out of the earth in the constant course of nature, and gives us all things richly to enjoy.
3. (Exodus 16:32-34) An omer of manna to be preserved.
Exod. 16:32 Moses said, â€œThis is what the LORD has commanded: â€˜Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.â€™ â€ 33 So Moses said to Aaron, â€œTake a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.â€ 34 As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony, that it might be kept.
God having provided manna to be his peopleâ€™s food in the wilderness, the remembrance of it was to be preserved. Eaten bread must not be forgotten. Godâ€™s miracles and mercies are to be had in remembrance. The word of God is the manna by which our souls are nourished, Matt. 4:4 . The comforts of the Spirit are hidden manna, Rev. 2:17 . These come from heaven, as the manna did, and are the support and comfort of the Divine life in the soul, while we are in the wilderness of this world. Christ in the word is to be applied to the soul, and the means of grace are to be used. We must every one of us gather for ourselves, and gather in the morning of our days, the morning of our opportunities; which if we let slip, it may be too late to gather. The manna must not be hoarded up, but eaten; those who have received Christ, must by faith live upon him, and not receive his grace in vain. There was manna enough for all, enough for each, and none had too much; so in Christ there is enough, but not more than we need. But those who ate manna, hungered again, died at last, and with many of them God was not well pleased; whereas they that feed on Christ by faith, shall never hunger, and shall die no more, and with them God will be for ever well pleased. Let us seek earnestly for the grace of the Holy Spirit, to turn all our knowledge of the doctrine of Christ crucified, into the spiritual nourishment of our souls by faith and love.
This chapter gives us an account of the victualling of the camp of Israel . Their complaint for want of bread. The notice God gave them beforehand of the provision he intended to make for them. The sending of the manna . The laws and orders concerning the manna. That they should gather it daily for their daily bread. That they should gather a double portion on the sixth day. That they should expect none on the seventh day. That they should preserve a pot of it for a memorial
See how soon they forgot his works, and provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea, Ps. 106:7-13 Note, Experiences of Godâ€™s mercies greatly aggravate our distrusts and murmurings.
The care God graciously took for their supply. Justly he might have said, â€œI will rain fire and brimstone upon these murmurers, and consume them;â€ but, quite contrary, he promises to rain bread upon them. Observe, How God makes known to Moses his kind intentions, that he might not be uneasy at their murmurings, nor be tempted to wish he had let them alone in Egypt. He takes notice of the peopleâ€™s complaints: I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel.
God Bless My Friend
Robert G O’Haver