I am currently reading through the book of Exodus. This morning, I was on chapter 16 when I came across an insight that simply knocked me off my feet. So, I’ve decided to share it with you. Consider this a glimpse into my personal Bible diary. Exodus chapter 16; The Israelites have left Egypt, witnessed the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, seen their enemies drowned and they are now headed towards the Promised Land. But first, they have to walk across the Wilderness…
1. The Wilderness of Sin
The first thing that I found intriguing was the name of the wilderness, it is called SIN (vs 1). I couldn’t help but acknowledge the fact that we, as believers, are currently walking across such a desert. Yes, we have been delivered from the bondage of Egypt, we are currently being led by the Spirit of God, but we are not yet home. The Promised Land is still afar off. We are trudging through the wilderness of Sin.
2. Misdirected complaints
Secondly, God has ordained human leaders to help us in our journey through this wilderness. What Moses and Aaron were to the Israelites is what our pastors and the different offices of spiritual leaders are to us. Life is hard. Jesus assured us that the journey won’t be easy. But we are imperfect beings, and just like the Israelites, we are doing what we do best – grumbling. Unfortunately, we are directing our complaints to the wrong audience, our pastors.
Moses appropriately answered the Israelites; “What are we; that you grumble against us? …. Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.” (vs 8) Another thing to note is the reason for their grumbling; they were hungry. We tend to grumble when we are hungry. However, what we seldom realize is the fact that our hunger is spiritual; people who do not feed on God’s Word tend to complain a lot about the conditions in the Wilderness of Sin.
3. Our Daily Bread
Thirdly, in the chapter, God decided to send the Israelites bread from heaven, they called it Manna. This daily bread can be likened to the Word of God, which we receive through the daily reading and meditating upon the Word of God, as I am currently doing. I also found the reason attached to the sending of Manna to be quite insightful, God says, “Behold, I am about to rain bread of heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” (vs 4) The word of God is not just words and quotes to be memorized, but a way of life to be adhered to. It is the law of God. To eat the Word of God also entails obliging yourself to obey it. There can be no passive consumption. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22-25)
4. Emphasis on the “Daily”
The fourth thing that I noticed as I studied the chapter is the fact that God feeds us only what we need for today. Yes, sometimes we may be tempted to gobble up a whole Psalm 119 in order to adhere to our reading schedules; other times we may find just one verse too rich to skim past, and we spend hours upon it. However, God will only implant in us the truth that we need for that day. The Israelites that gathered too much, and those that gathered just enough, ended up being nourished according to their needs, not according to their intake (vs 18). This encourages me to read and meditate on what will satisfy me today, not to keep up with some rigorous program. What we need most is to show up.
5. Don’t Waste Your Bread
Fifthly, it is notable to point out that Moses had actually instructed the Israelites to feed on what they needed and not collect surplus. This reminds me of my blog-post on the importance of developing a good reading culture and not just accumulating web links and bookmarks that we may never read. Read what you have, do not spend too much time skimming through numerous sites that you never get time to internalize any single one. What we do not ingest and properly digest ends up like the manna in the days of Moses; “But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank.” (vs 20).
6. Sunday: No Self-Service
Number six. On the sixth day; Moses instructed people to gather what they needed for two days, because they were not supposed to go and labor for Manna on the Sabbath. Some thought they were wiser, and went scourging for it, only to return empty-handed. (vs 27) This made God angry, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” (vs 28-29).
What could this mean? That the Lord has a plan for feeding you on Sunday, and you better take advantage of it, or you will end up empty-handed (or should I say empty-hearted?). God has ordained the church service to be the place where we can go to be fed with God’s Word on Sunday. He wants us to rest in His presence on the Sabbath and allow Him to minister to us through the various means of Grace in the church. Unfortunately, some of us would rather stay at home and read their Bibles or listen to televangelists. There is a way that these alternatives are similar to the Israelites employing their own labors to search for Manna on Sabbath. May we never be such disobedient children.
Yes, God feeds us with His Word on the Sabbath, through the means of Grace in a church service – the fellowship, the congregational worship and the sermon. However, we must form a habit of laboring to read and meditate upon this Manna in the rest of the week. Neither extreme is recommended. We need to study the Word on our own during the week just as much as we need to be ministered to on Sunday.
Finally, don’t you just love the description of this nourishing Manna? “It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” (vs 31) Does this description ring a bell? Psalm 119:103: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Furthermore, “The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan.” (vs 35) So should we, we must never neglect to partake of the Word of God until we get home, in heaven. We need it. We need Him.
This was my dose for today. Have you taken yours?
In His service and for His glory,