What is “enough”? When do we have “enough?”
Have you ever had enough chocolate?
How about money? Have you ever had enough money?
How about family? Never mind, of course you can have enough of family. I withdraw the analogy.
When we do not have enough, what response pleases the Lord? Do we take matters into our own hands? Or do we seek to be obedient and trust in the Lord?
II. Exodus 16:1-3 Wilderness of Sin
Today we are in Exodus 16 and we will study the when the Lord provided manna from heaven. Trivia quiz – you’ve probably heard of the manna from heaven. They ate manna in the morning. The Lord provided something else in the evening. Does anybody know what it is?
Exodus 16:13 says the ground was covered by quail.
Exodus 16 is too long to read and study verse by verse in the time we have allotted today, so we are going to pick out a few important verses. Let’s start with the Cliff Notes version – does anybody know what Cliff Notes are? Is there such a thing anymore?
Anyway, Chris taught us last week from Exodus 14 that Yul Brynner chased Charles Heston and the Israelites to the edge of the Red Sea. Remember how grateful the Israelites were? They said with great fondness and adoration to Moses in Exodus 14:11,
Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?
In response, the Lord divided the sea, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, and the Lord closed the sea over Pharaoh’s army. One of the most amazing miracles in the entire bible. In the next chapter, Exodus 15, is a song full of praise and adoration to the Lord for the great things He hath done, beginning with
I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will extol Him.
Obviously, having seen such power and glory from the Lord, the Israelites never again doubted the Lord or grumbled against Moses, at least until dinnertime. Then in Exodus 16:3 the Israelites said to Moses,
“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.”
This, of course, is a recurring thing with the Israelites. God does an amazing miracle, and the next day, the Israelites are like, “Well, so what have you done for me lately?”
Or like, God sending His son to pay for my sins and the sins of every person that places their trust in Jesus, and then us saying, “Well, so what have you done for me lately?”
The scripture in Exodus 16 says the day is the 15th day of the 2nd month after their departure from Egypt, so we know it had been less than a week since the parting of the sea. The people are wandering in the wilderness of Sin. Do I need to draw an analogy here? The Israelites are wandering in the wilderness of sin, and we are… ? That’s right, we too are wandering in a wilderness of sin. If we are not a believer, we are very involved in this rebellion, refusing the gifts from the Lord and demanding to do things our own way. And if we are a believer, we are still surrounded by a wilderness of sin and are still dealing with our own sin nature.
III. Exodus 16:4-17 Manna from Heaven
But the people are hungry and grumbling, “Well, so what have you done for me lately?” The Lord’s answer is one of instruction – remember, this is before even the Ten Commandments had been given. The Lord says to Moses in Exodus 16:4-5,
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. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”
The Lord never tempts us, but He often tests us. His tests are not for amusement or vindictiveness; the Lord test us for His purpose. He tests us to strengthen our faith, to encourage us to walk in obedience. And I believe He does this to us over and over again because we are a lot like the Israelites, forgetting the miracles God has already done for us and constantly asking, “Well, so what have you done for me lately?” And God answers with a test, “This is what I am doing for you lately.” And the Lord’s test always involves our obedience to His call.
The test to the Israelites was pretty simple. Follow these instructions and you will have all the meat and bread you can eat. Simple instructions. In the evening, quail covered the camp, I suppose some sort of evening BBQ. I don’t see any specific instruction in Exodus regarding how many quail they could have, but the next instructions were quite specific. Every morning God provided manna for the day.
What was the manna? The Lord describes it in Exodus 16:4 as bread raining down from heaven. Exodus 16:13-17 describes it like this:
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. 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. 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.
Later in Exodus 16, the manna is described like “coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Numbers 11:7 says it looked like resin or tree sap. Psalm 78:24 says it was “grain from heaven” and the next verse calls it “bread of angels.” It seems to be a sweet bread that would miraculously appear. I think it was kind of like that homemade banana bread my wife made yesterday, only without bananas. And with coriander and honey.
Does anybody know what “manna” means? The Israelites called it, well, let’s look at two verses side by side, Exodus 16 verse 15 and 31,
When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.
The Hebrew word for “manna” means, “What is it?” Literally. They named this miraculous bread from heaven “What is it?” Kind of like we would use the word “whatchamacallit.” Hey, y’all want a quail sandwich? We have quail and we have, um, some whatchamacallit.
The Lord’s test to the Israelites was pretty simple. They were to gather only as much manna as they could eat that day. Don’t gather any more, don’t gather any less. Eat what you gather.
I remember when I was young, my grandfather had a phrase, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach.” I wasn’t sure what that meant as a kid. I imagined my stomach the size of a softball and my eyes the size of marble, and I could see the size of my eyes hadn’t changed. But later I understood what he meant. Sometimes for dinner we’d go to a cafeteria and we’d walk down that long row of the ladies serving all manner of fine cuisine. Seems the first stop was always jello for some reason, often with mysterious things floating in the jello. Then there would be a fish station, then the roast beef and ham and chicken, then the vegetables.
I was a weird child who liked most vegetables like spinach and brussel sprouts. I loved corn on the cob and spinach, but I would never get spinach at the cafeteria because I could never tell it apart from collard greens. Then the desserts like strawberry shortcake and chocolate pudding, and by the time I finished going through the line, I had selected almost everything they had, all piled up on my tray. My grandfather knew I was a growing boy, he often said I had a hollow leg to be able to eat so much. But sometimes I was so enthusiastic about all the food available that I’d select more than I could eat in one sitting. And that’s when Granddaddy would say that my eyes were bigger than my stomach.
Perhaps the Israelites had eyes bigger than their stomachs. The Lord told them only to gather as much manna as they could eat that day, and the Lord would provide for tomorrow’s needs tomorrow. The exception was the Sabbath; the day before, the Israelites were to gather twice as much because there would be no manna delivery service on Sunday.
What did they do? Of course they gathered too much. Some tried to save their manna overnight, but Exodus 16:19 says that manna left overnight bred worms and became foul. Sort of like that mystery package in your refrigerator. You’d throw it out, but you’re afraid to touch it. It has bred worms and turned foul.
Here’s an observation about leftovers in your fridge that everybody shares. If we put something in the fridge overnight, we’ll eat it the next day. Or maybe even the 2nd day. But by the 3rd day, we’re not really so sure if it has bred worms and turned foul. We pick it up and smell it, but we don’t detect anything wrong. And then we put it back in the refrigerator. I’m not going to eat it because I don’t know if it’s gone bad, but it hasn’t yet gone bad enough for me to throw it out. So it sits in the refrigerator for at least 2 more days until it starts to grow some sort of fungus, and *then* it’s ok to throw it out.
Jesus has no scripture regarding leftovers. Well, actually that’s not quite true. Remember the miracle of the loaves and fishes when Jesus fed the 5000? Afterward in John 6:12, Jesus said, “Gather up the leftovers so that nothing will be lost.” But that’s a completely different lesson.
Why did the Israelites gather more than a day’s worth of manna? Well, there’s disobedience, there’s just being a stiff-necked people, probably greed is involved… but I think the issue here is trusting in the Lord’s promises.
The Lord told them in Exodus 16:11-12,
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “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.’”
And Israel answers, “But what have you done for me lately?” The test from the Lord was designed to increase their faith. The Lord is essentially saying, “I will provide for your needs every day, trust in me.”
But some, after gathering their daily manna, hid some under their pillow or under their bed overnight. What if the Lord forgets? What if the Lord changes His mind? It’s a matter of trusting in the Lord that He is faithful and will keep His promises.
Trust and faith are very closely related, but they are not the same thing. Faith is a noun. It is something we have. Faith says, “I know the Lord, and I believe in the Lord.”
Trust is a verb. Trust is something we do. Trust says, “because I believe, I will think and act according to what I believe.” It’s the Christian spiritual walk away from hypocrisy of being two people and toward integrity, of being a single person with a single mind.
The Israelites certainly had faith, the Lord had manifested amazing miracles, not in the distant past, but just in the last week. They knew the Lord and His power. They had faith he was Yahweh.
But some Israelites were lacking in trust. Yes, God promised manna today and He delivered. But what about tomorrow? What if God doesn’t come through, what if He forgets? And even though God promises, I’ll set aside a little something for me… just in case.
It is faith that saves, but it is trust that grows. Trust says that not only do we have faith in almighty God, but I will live my life expectantly in a way that demonstrates my faith. Trust says that I may not know all the plans of the Lord, but I know enough to seek His will and do what He asks of me. If we have a little faith, we have a little trust. Jesus says that’s a good start – with just a little faith, the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains.
There are plenty of examples of scripture that help grow our faith and our trust in the Lord. Isaiah 33:6,
And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the Lord is his treasure.
And Psalm 33:11, God is forever faithful,
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
And of course, the one that gives us such comfort from Romans 8:28,
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
The opposite of trust is doubt. Or worry. Either way, it expresses that we do not trust the Lord to save, to serve, to protect, to heal, to revenge, to comfort. We doubt the Lord’s promises. But God never forgets about us. We are worth a great deal to our Father in heaven. Matthew 10:29,
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
So when we face trials and tribulations and cannot see God’s hand at work, our actions tell us a great deal about us and our trust in Him. We say we believe Him, but what do we do? Do we wait patiently? Psalm 46,
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Or do we gather some extra manna for ourselves, in our own strength, to protect us in case God forgets?
IV. Jesus is our bread from Heaven
The manna freely given by God is a foreshadowing of Jesus. Let’s go back to those leftovers after Jesus fed the 5000. Jesus and the disciples left for Capernaum, and the crowd followed Him. John 6:26,
Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
Like the Israelites in the desert of Sin, they were focused on their own needs. The Israelites had seen the Red Sea parting, yet they grumbled because there wasn’t enough to eat. Likewise, the crowds around Jesus had seen His miracles, but followed Him to get more food. Jesus tried to get their minds off physical bread and onto spiritual “bread of life” in John 6:32,
Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”
But the crowds that followed Jesus were more concerned about the condition of their stomachs than the condition of their souls.
Jesus is the bread of life, and we are to rejoice in the day he hath made today, and not worry about tomorrow. Let God who has control over tomorrow worry about tomorrow for us. Consider that worry is the same as the wilderness of sin, and worry is the opposite of trust. Jesus makes this perfectly clear in Matthew 6:25-34,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God provided manna to the Israelites to save them from starvation. God provided Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls. The literal manna temporarily saved the Israelites from physical death. The spiritual manna saves us from eternal death. John 6:49-50,
“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
Let us trust in the Lord to take care of our tomorrows. Whatever we need, God knows we need it, and He will provide it when it is within His perfect timing.
Do you know what God has done for me lately? Everything.
In response to His gifts, remember, trust is a verb. It is something we do.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
To God be the glory. Amen.