It is recorded near the end of Exodus, chapter 15, that the Children of Israel had journeyed three days in the wilderness to Marah and were complaining that they found no water. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 63:1 wrote, they were in a dry and thirsty land. “my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;” God, however, in His infinite grace, did provide for them.
It’s a startling experience when we discover that our earthly resources are exhausted and we can no longer rely on them. Our only recourse then is to turn to God. Here is an important principle that is applicable to the walk of the believer and it’s found throughout the scriptures in every dispensation; blessing is dependent upon obedience.
This thought is carried further in Exodus 15:26: “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”
The children of Israel had been redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb and their blessings now depended on their obedience to their Redeemer.
God would be with them as they traveled. Exodus 15:27, “And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.” After the episode at Marah, God still provided for His people and even blessed them with an oasis in the desert where there was food and water and rest for the weary.
He had promised them safety from the diseases of Egypt if they would listen to His voice and do what was right in His sight. Many years later, Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23.
There are many believers who know the joy of salvation but are without the conscious enjoyment of a single blessing because of a careless walk. They don’t study the Word, so they don’t know what His commandments are so they don’t "give ear to His commandments." Their walk is in whatever way seems right in their own eyes. Is it any wonder they are cold and indifferent and not enjoying fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ? God comes to the obedient ones with His unchanging love, and that love is there, even in times of trouble. The power of the Holy Spirit within the believer is found in obedience to the will of their Lord. There is nothing that can make up for the lack of an obedient walk with God.
The conditions they enjoyed at Elim were transient even though they were under the loving care of Jehovah. The children of Israel were pilgrims and as such were destined to travel and not to rest so scripture takes up the next stage of their journey in chapter 16.
Exodus 16:1-3. “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto 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. 2: And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3: And the children of Israel said unto 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 ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Elim was one of the enjoyable experiences on the journey to Sinai. It displayed the grace and long suffering of God in dealing with them. Sinai, however, would be engraved on their memories in connection with the majesty and holiness of the Law. God dealt with them in His mercy and grace up till Mt. Sinai where that was changed by their own request. After that He dealt with the people in holiness and judgment.
That is the difference between grace and law, but whether under grace or law, the flesh remained the same and took every opportunity to reveal it's corrupt character. The whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron at Pi-hahiroth when they saw the army of Pharaoh coming, they murmured at Marab because the water was bitter, and now all they could think of was their stomachs and the flesh pots in Egypt.
The flesh craves whatever it desires but since we have been judged and found guilty and have been redeemed by the death of Christ, we are no longer debtors to the flesh. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Romans 8:12-13
As a result of the complaints of the people, we read this: Exodus 16:4-12. Then said the LORD unto 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 no. 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. 6: And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: 7: And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 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 heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD. 9: And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings. 10: And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto 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. 11: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 12: I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God."
There is no sign of judgment here, only patient and forbearing grace. They were under grace, and grace reigned in spite of their sin and it also presented the Lord with an opportunity to display His glory. (verse 10.)
This was sin, and all sin is really against the Lord, so murmuring against Moses and Aaron, (verse 8.), was murmuring against the Lord.
The believer today would do well to remember that murmuring against God’s servants is sin and it is judged to be murmuring against God, and God does take note of that.
Verses 13-21. "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. 14: And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. 15: And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat."
There is a difference between the symbolism of the quail and the manna. The quail have no special teaching in connection with them while the manna is a type of the Lord Jesus.
The quail were given to satisfy the desires of the people but brought no blessing. In fact, they ate so many some of them got sick and died. Numbers 11:32-33. “And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.”
The Psalmist said, in connection with this, "He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." God may hear the cry of His people, even in their unbelief, and grant them their desires, but it may just be for discipline rather than for blessing.
Believers sometimes forget that our true portion is in Christ and we sometimes desire the things of this world, the flesh pots of Egypt. He may allow us to attain our objective, but the consequence is leanness in our soul.
Verses 16-21. “This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. 17: And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. 18: 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. 19: And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20: Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. 21: And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.”
The manna is a clear type of Christ when He was in this world. He is the One who came down from heaven and Who, as such, became the food of His people while passing through our wilderness. John 6:51: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
There is a marked difference between the children of Israel and believers of this dispensation. The manna was only a picture of Christ to come. Jesus had not at this time given His flesh and blood for their sins, while the actual giving of His flesh and blood has come to pass in our present dispensation.
As manna to our souls, He is the source of grace, not merely the example we should follow. He is our source of strength in this wilderness called the world.
There are some practical directions here concerning the manna. They were each to gather it according to how much they ate. Consequently, the one who gathered much had nothing left over and those who gathered less had enough. Their appetite governed the amount they gathered.
This is true of the believer. We can have as much of Christ as we desire, no more, and no less. If we desire much of the Word, He will supply it. We can’t desire too much but on the other hand, if we only seek a little of Christ, only a little will be supplied. How much we feed on Christ as our wilderness food depends entirely on our spiritual appetite.
No man was to leave any of the manna until the morning; but some disobeyed this and found out that it didn’t work.
The spiritual food we collect today isn’t meant to feed us tomorrow. We need to feed on Him afresh every day. To go on a spiritual feeding binge followed by a spiritual fast will only result in disappointment and loss instead of blessing. God wants to give us our portion a day at a time.
Another thing, the manna was to be collected early before the sun waxed hot and melted it. The best time for the believer to be in God’s Word is in the quiet of the morning when our mind is fresh from a nights rest and we are alone with the Lord. As the day wears on, it’s awfully hard to leave the distractions of the day and find time for the Lord.
Verses 22-30. “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. 23: And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24: And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25: And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26: Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27: And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. 28: And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29: See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye 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. 31: 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.”
When they followed God’s instructions, the results were good.
The Sabbath that God would soon ordain is mentioned here in connection with the manna. We read in Genesis 2:3, "God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made."
The Sabbath, or the seventh day of the week, was to be God’s appointed day of rest. It’s found here for the first time in scripture since God made the world. There isn’t a trace of it all through the age of the patriarchs or while the children of Israel were in Egypt.
Shortly after the manna was given, the Law and the instructions for the observance of the Sabbath were given. The observance of the Sabbath continued until the death of Christ.
The last Sabbath observed under the dispensation of law is recorded in Luke 23:55-56. “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56: And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”
The next verses in scripture usher in the Dispensation of Grace. Luke 24:1. “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre,” and verses 5-6, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6: He (Christ) is not here, but is risen:”
With the resurrection of Christ, the believer was no longer under the law. Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."
How grateful we can be
that salvation is available to all
through faith in the blood of the Lamb of God,
shed for our sins
there on the cross of Calvary.
God couldn’t rest in the presence of sin and the dishonor it does to Him, and as a consequence man couldn’t share that rest with Him. That rest can only be found in Christ and His shed blood.
The manna prefigures Christ, and it is Christ, and Christ only, who can lead us into the rest of God. Hebrews 4:3, “For we which have believed do enter into rest.” That rest is not a present thing, it’s a future blessing. Hebrews 4:9: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” The believers conscience and heart may have rest in Christ but our eternal rest will not be reached until we enter the eternal scene. Revelation 21:3. “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
Moses continues with God’s instructions for the manna in the verses 32-36.
Verses 32-36. “And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33: And Moses said unto 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. 34: As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. 35: And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. 36: Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.”
An omer of manna was laid up before the Lord and placed in the Ark of the Testimony, (also known as The Ark of the Covenant), to be kept for later generations. It was put in a golden pot and placed in the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle. For forty years, during all their wanderings in the desert and until they came to the land they were to posses, this was their daily food. They actually ate manna until they crossed over into the land of Canaan. And, God was with them all the way.