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Scripture reading: Exodus 16-17
We have considered the faithlessness of the children of Israel who, after the miracle of the Red Sea crossing, turned from celebrating Egypt’s defeat to murmuring “against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (15:24).
Daily Complaining, Daily Manna, and Daily Meat
In Exodus 15, the people complained about a lack of water; in Exodus 16, they complained about a lack of food. When the people left Egypt, they must have packed enough provisions for a month; however, when their supplies were exhausted, they began to murmur against Moses and Aaron. The people complained that they would have been better off dying in Egypt than following Moses into the desert only to starve and die (16:2-3). (Notice how soon they forgot God’s miraculous provision of water, Exodus 15.)
Once again, Moses cried to the LORD. God responded and promised to “rain bread from heaven” (16:4), sufficient for a day that He might “prove [the people], whether they will walk in my law, or no” (16:4). The LORD promised on the sixth day he would provide twice the daily manna, that the people might store enough for the Sabbath (16:5). Moses and Aaron encouraged the people, how the LORD would provide them bread in the morning, and “in the evening flesh to eat” (16:6-8). Moses also taught a spiritual truth all believers should understand and God’s faithful ministers should remember: “The Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord” (16:8b).
Faithful to His promise, quail covered the camp each evening and provided the people with meat. Each morning they found a small round bread they called “manna” (16:15). Moses then instructed the men to gather only enough for their households, “every man according to his eating” (16:18). Moses also admonished, “Let no man leave of it till the morning” (16:19).
What lesson did the LORD teach Israel by providing them daily provisions?
He taught the people to look to Him for their daily needs; yet, some failed to trust the LORD and hoarded more manna than they could eat, and “it bred worms, and stank [rotted]” (16:20). As promised, the day before the Sabbath, the LORD provided enough for the day and the day after (16:22-26). Thus, the people did not need to seek provisions for the Sabbath, “so the people rested on the seventh day” (16:30). As a reminder of God’s faithfulness, Moses directed Aaron to “take a pot” and store “manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD to be “kept” as a lasting “Testimony” (16:33-34).
Thus did the LORD provide for Israel for “forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan” (16:35).
Israel continued her journey in the “wilderness of Sin” and encamped in Rephidim, where “there was no water for the people to drink” (17:1). Once again, the people questioned, “Is the LORD among us, or not?” (17:7). Again, they accused Moses of bringing them out of Egypt to kill them (17:3). The criticism became so vicious, that Moses feared the people were “almost ready to stone” him (17:4). The LORD then commanded Moses to take the rod he carried when the waters of the Red Sea were divided, and stand “upon the rock in Horeb; and… smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink” (17:5-6).
Israel witnessed the LORD’s compassion and provision for their needs; however, the Gospel of John reveals a greater truth. While the “rock in Horeb” supplied water to Israel, it was merely a type, a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ. The water that flowed from the rock in Horeb quenched the temporal thirst of Israel. Christ, however, promised He could give water so that a soul might “never thirst,” for He was the “well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Israel’s First War (17:8-16)
After departing Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, the children of Israel encountered their first enemy when the Amalekites, descendants of Esau (Jacob’s twin brother), came to war against them (17:8). Moses summoned Joshua. He commanded him to choose men in Israel to “fight with Amalek” (17:9).
While Joshua led Israel to war in the valley, Moses stood on the “top of the hill with the rod of God in [his] hand” (17:9). When the arms of Moses were outstretched, Israel prevailed. Still, when his arms grew heavy, the battle went against the nation (17:11). Finally, sitting down on a rock, Moses’ brother steadied one arm. At the same time, a man named Hur held the other aloft (17:12). Thus, Israel prevailed, and “Joshua discomfited [defeated] Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (17:13).
Israel’s first battle in the wilderness served as a reminder that the LORD was on their side. The LORD commanded Moses to write the victory in a book and exhorted him to rehearse the victory “in the ears of Joshua” (17:14). As a memorial to the victory, Moses “built an altar, and called it Jehovah-nissi,” meaning “The LORD is My Banner” (17:15).
A sinful pattern of failing to obey and trust the LORD has emerged in our study of Israel. Therefore, let me encourage you to consider that those who complain are like Israel and are given to exaggeration and accusations.
1) Of what evil did the people accuse Moses? (Exodus 16:3)
2) Why did the LORD warn the people not to hoard daily manna? (Exodus 16:4b)
3) On what day was Israel not to gather manna? (Exodus 16:23-26, 30)
4) What did God command Moses to do that the people might have water to drink? (Exodus 17:5-6)
5) What lesson was Joshua to learn from his first battle with the Amalekites? (Exodus 17:13-16)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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