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Moses 16 – Food From Heaven


How many miracles did God perform from the time that Moses requested pharaoh to let His people go?

How many days did they see the miracle of cloud by day and the fiery cloud by night?

45 times

Exodus 16:1-3 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
And the children of Israel said to them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Was God unmindful of the wants of Israel? Our wants? Listen what he said to Moses:

Exodus 16:4 Then said the LORD to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.

Bread from heaven for two million people? God is much larger that your biggest problem!

That I may prove them.

That the rain of manna was designed by God as a means of education is apparent from these words. The miraculous provision of food was to train the people to respect and obey His holy law.

And directions were given that the people gather a daily supply, with a double amount on the sixth day, that the sacred observance of the Sabbath might be maintained.

Verse 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

On the sixth day

Of what does this expression reminds you?

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

What was the nature of the test implied in verse 5?

This is the only previous occurrence of this expression, and thus of the fact that in six days God completed His work of creation (Gen. 2:1–3).

Considered together with Genesis 2:1–3 and Exodus 20:8–11, this reference clearly points to the fact that the Hebrews knew of the weekly cycle prior to the giving of the law at Sinai (cf. Gen. 29:28).

This divine institution was given for unfallen human beings. God saw it fit to give it to fallen man as well reminding us that He can recreate.

If the observance of the Sabbath was a test to ancient Israel what about modern spiritual Israel?

In conjunction with verse 23, verse 5 indicates that only the seventh day had a name, “the holy Sabbath”. The other six days were designated by numerals, first, second, third day, etc.

Twice as much.

Why did twice as much manna fell on the sixth day, and they were to gather twice as much?

Verse 6 And Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, At even, then you shall know that the LORD has brought you out from the land of Egypt:

Then you shall know.

What was the first evidence the Israelites would have that God had heard and considered their complaints?

Food food food!

Verse 7 And in the morning, then you shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he hears your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that you murmur against us?

Exodus 16:8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD hears your murmurings which you murmur against him: and what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.

Flesh and bread they would now have “to the full.” God would demonstrate that He could supply in the desert what Egypt possessed, and more.

Verse 9 And Moses spoke to Aaron, Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he has heard your murmurings.

Why should they come near the Lord before receiving food? In recognition that God was the one against whom they had rebelled.

Verse 10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

What kind of glory could this be? Have they seen something like this before? A splendor such as they had never witnessed symbolized the divine Presence.

Through manifestations addressed to their senses, they were to obtain knowledge of God. They must be taught that the Most High, and not merely the man Moses, was their leader, that they might fear His name and obey His voice.

Verses 11,12 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak to them, saying, At even you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.

It was only on rare occasions that the Lord provided flesh for the Israelites. But two are recorded, the one here in the Wilderness of Sin and another at Kibroth-hattaavah in the Wilderness of Paran (Num. 11:31–34).

Israel was not in actual need of flesh food, since the “corn of heaven” (Ps. 78:24) was adequate to supply all their needs.

Verse 13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host

Verses 14,15 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, on the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them, This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.

What does manna mean?

The form man was an old Semitic particle meaning “what.” It appears as manna, in the Palestinian Amarna Letters, documents written in the 14th century B.C.

We may therefore conclude that this short phrase is properly translated, “What is this?” (LXX), or “What is it?” (RSV). This exclamation reveals the surprise of the Hebrews when they discovered the unfamiliar substance.

While looking at the inscriptions on an Amarna tablet, I thought of the accuracy of God’s Word. Expressions like manna, found only in documents from the middle of the second millennium B.C., would not have been used by a writer in the first millennium, for he would have been unaware of their existence at the time of the Exodus.

The story of the Exodus was written by a contemporary of that great event, one who was acquainted with the phraseology of his own time, and who knew how to use it.

Verse 16-19 This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer (3.4 litres) for every man, according to the number of your persons; take you every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.

What a breakfast – prepared in the kitchen of heaven! What deep spiritual message does the manna bring? A type of…?

The manna, falling from heaven for the sustenance of Israel, was a type of Him who came from God to give life to the world.

Said Jesus, “I am that Bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven. . . . If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:48-51.

And among the promises of blessing to God’s people in the future life it is written, “To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” Revelation 2:17. {PP 297.2}

Verse 20 Notwithstanding they listened not to Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.

Communion with Christ should be the first thing in the morning. If I neglect this exercise the heavenly manna loses its flavour

Verse 21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

What did God do to prevent them becoming lazy?

They must gather every day in order to have anything to eat. Furthermore, they must rise early, since the manna melted “when the sun waxed hot” (v. 21). Although there were no fields to plow or harvests to bring in, the fact that they must arise early to gather their food shows that God planned every detail of this phenomenon for the people’s benefit and training.

Poverty and want are the reward of those who sleep late (see Prov. 6:9–11).

Verse 22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

Verse 23 And he said to them, This is that which the LORD has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath to the LORD: bake that which you will bake to day, and seethe that you will seethe; and that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

Why did God expect them to make these preparations

Every week during their long sojourn in the wilderness the Israelites witnessed a threefold miracle, designed to impress their minds with the sacredness of the Sabbath: a double quantity of manna fell on the sixth day, none on the seventh, and the portion needed for the Sabbath was preserved sweet and pure, when if any were kept over at any other time it became unfit for use. {PP 296.2}

Verse 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.

Most of the people obeyed, and experienced a new miracle when that portion laid aside for the Sabbath neither “bred worms” nor “stank.” For how long did this weekly procedure taught the people to make Friday a day of preparation for the Sabbath, and to make the Sabbath itself truly a day of rest?

Verses 25-28 And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath to the LORD: to day you shall not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, How long refuse you to keep my commandments and my laws?

Verse 29,30 See, for that the LORD has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide you every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.

We can learn important lessons from God’s patience

Instead of always punishing Israel for their repeated murmurings and acts of disobedience, God condescends to reason with them, explaining the purpose of His requirements.

The Sabbath was a holy day of rest, a divine gift, with which they were not to tamper; hence, the double portion of food the day before.

Why were the Israelites directed to remain in camp on the Sabbath, and not to go out for manna or for any other purpose?

Their time on that day was to be spent in rest at home and in meditation upon sacred themes. It was a time when families could find each other again after a week of work and other activities.

Verses 31-34 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commands, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread with which I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
And Moses said to Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.

The word translated “pot” is from an Egyptian word meaning a rather large jar. Here, however, it seems to have been used to designate a metal vessel.

Does the Bible tell us what kind of metal?

Hebrews 9:3,4 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the Ark of the Covenant overlaid roundabout with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.

Are we going to see God’s holy law one day? Why manna and a budded rod?

God’s gifts are incentives to obedience. God’s law promises abundance of good things to those who obey.

Are we transgressing? God offers us His forgiveness as well as His power to obey. Shall we accept it?

God requires that His holy day be as sacredly observed now as in the time of Israel. The command given to the Hebrews should be regarded by all Christians as an injunction from Jehovah to them.

The day before the Sabbath should be made a day of preparation, that everything may be in readiness for its sacred hours.

In no case should our own business be allowed to encroach upon holy time

For forty years they were daily reminded by this miraculous provision, of God’s unfailing care and tender love. In the words of the psalmist, God gave them “of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels’ food” (Psalm 78:24, 25)–that is, food provided for them by the angels. Sustained by “the corn of heaven,” they were daily taught that, having God’s promise, they were as secure from want as if surrounded by fields of waving grain on the fertile plains of Canaan. {PP 297.1}

After the break we will travel to Rephidim where God miraculously provided water from a rock.

Updated on 21st Mar 2022

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