GRUMBLING AND PROVISION
God delivered his children out of Egypt, and his people are no longer slaves. They had plundered Egypt, and God demonstrated his power over the nations. Egypt was vanquished by the sovereign God of the universe commanding his creation. Israel, his firstborn son, is free but the firstborn of the Egyptians suffered because of their sin and disobedience. One might think that after the Egyptian threat ended that the people enjoyed peace and a comfortable life. However, this is not the case, and Israel still faced a desolate wilderness. It was not long before they experienced and water shortage which tested their faith. Israel did not live as a grateful people who expected the Lord to provide as he had in the past. Instead, they were a needy people that whined, grumbled, and complained. God provided water when he brought them to Elim, but as the people move eastward, they begin to experience a food crisis. It has been almost a month since they left Egypt and what provisions they had were gone. This nation was too large to live off the land, and so for the third time within a month, they began to grumble against Moses and Aaron. They began to sentimentalize their life in Egypt and thought they would now starve to death in the wilderness.
God responds before Moses cries out to him and declares that he would rain bread from heaven for his people. God's provision would be supernatural, and it would also serve as a test for his people. God would send it each day for six days. The people were to take only daily provision except on the sixth day when they would gather a double portion. Moses and Aaron announce to the people that God would know that it was God who had delivered them and they would see his glory in the provision they experienced. They point out to the people that God had heard their grumbling and their complaints were against God, not Moses and Aaron. When Moses directs Aaron to call an assembly of the people, the glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud. Moses issues a statement announcing that at twilight the people would eat meat and in the morning they would be filled with bread because of the Lord their God. That very evening quail covered the ground, and in the morning God's bread appeared, and the people were not sure what to do with it. Moses tells the people to gather as much bread as the needed for the day and suggested about two quarts. There were two restrictions placed on the gathering of their daily bread. The bread was not to be kept overnight, and the people promptly violated this directive which resulted in it breeding worms and stinking. Moses was angry with the people for their deliberate disobedience. On the sixth day after the people gathered twice as much, Moses explains that the seventh day would be a day of solemn rest and a holy sabbath to the Lord. The people again disregarded the word of the Lord and went out to look for bread on the seventh day which resulted in the Lord adding to his instructions by telling the people to remain in their place on the Sabbath.
Israel called God's provision for them manna, and it is described as being similar to a coriander seed that was white and tasted like honey. Moses relays God's command to keep an omer for future generations so that they might learn of God's provision in the wilderness. It would be placed before the Lord before the testimony, and it would later find a home in the ark of the covenant. The passage ends with the witness that God provided manna for forty years until Israel reached the border of Canaan.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think we are so prone to complaining?
- Why do we sometimes misdirect our frustration toward leaders?
- Is it ever right to direct frustration at leaders? When?
- Why do we sometimes remember things the way we wish they were instead of how they truly were?
- Why is it important to recognize God as our provider?
- Why do you think the people continued to doubt God's provision?
- Why do you think the people continued to disobey God?
- Why is Sabbath rest important?
- Do you practice Sabbath rest? Why or why not?
- Jesus will later refer to the manna that God provided and tell the people that it was his father and not Moses that provided the manna. Why do we need to be reminded that God gives us all things?