Sunday March 4th
Here’s a little story to show you how men and women communicate differently:
A certain man’s wife sent him to the grocery store with these instructions, “Honey, please get one loaf of bread, and if they have eggs, get a dozen.” So he comes home with a dozen loaves of bread. She just stares at him and says, “Why in the world would you buy 12 loaves of bread?” So he tells her, “They had eggs. And you said ‘get one loaf of bread, but if they have eggs, get a dozen!”
So the people of Israel were hungry for bread too! And God was going to provide for them in a very unique way.
Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt.
Did you notice that phrase “the wilderness of Sin”? This was apparently an actual name of a place that was located in the southwest region of the Sinai desert, but how true is that statement about where sin leaves us – in the wilderness! Lost, wandering, and with no way out.
And sin won’t just leave you lost, it will leave you hungry! Which is what the Hebrews began to find out.
2 The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Ah—yeah---but you were slaves! Did you forget that?
Remember, this isn't the first time the Israelites grumbled. In Exodus 14:11, right before God parted the Red Sea, they said to Moses “was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?”
And notice where they are grumbling - “In the desert” People don’t complain when things are going their way. It’s when things aren't going the way that we want them to that we have a tendency to complain. We grumble because of the circumstances we’re in. We quickly forget the many times that God has rescued us and blessed us and provided for us in the past.
Let’s face it, the desert isn’t flowing with milk and honey. It’s dry and it’s hot. The people of Israel weren’t in the Promised Land yet, they were on a journey to the Promised Land. In the same way, our journey through life isn't always filled with ease, comfort, and pleasure. We sometimes go through desert times of trials and hardships because we live in a fallen world.
But the good news is that God makes sure to provide for us all along our journey.
And even though the Israelites should have known that by now, it didn't stop them from doubting and grumbling.
In fact after God gave them exactly what they grumbled for they grumbled about it again in Numbers 11:4-6
“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, 'If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
God's grace is truly amazing, isn’t it? Even when the Israelites were so ungrateful, He fed them. God could have rained down fire and brimstone on them for complaining but instead he rained down bread from heaven.
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, for He hears your grumblings against the Lord; and what are we, that you grumble against us?”
8 Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.’”10 It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
The people cried for both bread and meat back in verse 3, and God gave them both. The Manna from heaven is actually called the “bread of the angels” in Psalm 78:25 “Man did eat the bread of angels;
He sent them food in abundance.”
The meat came in the form of quails:
13 So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. 15 When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.
Quail are small migratory game birds that are connected to the partridge family (not the singing group)
In the original Hebrew the word that we say as manna is simply mon. So what does mon mean? Well, mon is actually Egyptian for “what.” Over the years that they had lived in Egypt, a fair amount of the Egyptian language had seeped into the Hebrew vocabulary. So when they called it “manna” what they were saying was literally, “What is it?”
Do you remember back in verse 4 where God told Moses, “I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction”?
Now we’re going to see exactly what instructions they were given regarding the manna:
16 This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’” 17 The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. 19 Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.”20 But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. 21 They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.
It really shouldn’t come as any surprise, knowing what we’ve already seen of the Israelites, and knowing what we’ve already seen of ourselves, that the people can’t obey even the simplest of instructions. God says, “Just take as much as you need for today, and don’t try to save any for tomorrow. I’ll give you more tomorrow.”
But what do the people try to do? They try to hoard some for the next day. Just in case. The question is, just in case what? Just in case God didn’t keep His promise tomorrow!
That’s what it really comes down to. Are we going to trust God to take care of us tomorrow the same way He did today, and yesterday, and the day before that, and every day of our lives?
And what was the end result of not trusting God? Wormy, stinky bread!
Do you want to try to live your life without fully trusting in and depending on God? Well then don’t be surprised when things end up wormy and stinky!
So God gives them plenty for each day and for good measure God gave them extra Sabbath grace:
22 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”
27 It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? 29 See, the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
Do you see what I mean about Sabbath grace? On any of the other days, trying to save some manna for tomorrow won’t work, but on the day before the Sabbath it will. Why?
Because God wants His people to be free of their worldly cares to be able to spend time with Him.
And the same thing is true for us. In the hustle and bustle and struggle of life, God wants us to be able to take time just to be with Him. And He will take care of the burdens and the distractions that might be keeping us from being with Him, if we will just trust Him and do things the way that He has shown us. Time with God doesn’t just matter to us, it matters to HIM!
The people of Israel would spend 40 years in that wilderness journey. And every single day, without fail, God would provide for their needs.
Anyone here today who is at least 40 years old can say the same thing – that God has been there for you every single day of your life. We should never forget that.
In fact, Moses told the people to do a very specific thing so that they wouldn’t forget what God had done for them:
31 The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey. 32 Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept.35 The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (Now an omer is a tenth of an ephah.)
It doesn’t help too much to say that “an omer is a tenth of an ephah” if you don’t know what an ephah is! But scholars say that an omer was about two quarts of manna so everyone had plenty to eat each day.
In verse 33 Moses tells them to take some of the manna and put it in a jar. Hebrews 9:4 points out that this jar of manna was kept within the Ark of the Covenant:
“having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant”
How does all of this apply to us today? Let’s start with this:
Philippians 2:14 says, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”
Can we be just as easily led to grumble and complain as the people of Israel were? Unfortunately yes, because that’s the tendency of our old nature.
But the apostle Paul specifically warns us in 1st Corinthians 10:6-11
“Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
Does that mean that God will send serpents to destroy us if we complain? Probably not, but what can end up happening is that we might end up missing out on some of our blessings because we’re complaining so much.
That’s what ended up happening to this group of Israelites. They were complaining so much on the journey that they never made it to their destination!
They missed out on the Promised Land!
Look at Numbers 14:22 where God declares:
“not one of the men who saw my glory and miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times. Not one of them will see the land I promised them...”
And our Promised Land is even better than the one that was promised to them.
Theirs was just a place – ours is a person!
They were being led to Israel – we are being led to Jesus!
In John 6:48, Jesus calls Himself the “bread of life”.
Then He goes on to say in verses 49-51 “Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
That’s what we were proclaiming this morning when we shared in communion. Jesus is all the bread we will ever need. Do you have needs? Jesus can meet those needs!
It doesn’t matter what kind of need. It doesn’t matter how big or how small.
Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s choose to trust God today to meet whatever need we are facing through the abundant riches of Jesus, the true manna from heaven!