Quail and Manna
When we decided to move off the beach a few years ago, we started looking for a building. When I saw the sign on this place, I called the number and asked about it. The owner told me the price and then asked if I was opening a bar. I told him, “No, a church.”
He was so delighted that he immediately started talking himself down on the price! He said that bars had offered much more than the asking price, but being a Christian he refused to sell. But when a church wanted it, he went in the opposite direction to the point where I was worried he would lose on the deal.
As we were getting the place ready, we needed some nice cabinets for the bathrooms. Within just a couple days two, beautiful ones were sitting out by the road waiting for someone to take for free. I could go on and on with such stories, but you get the picture.
The Lord sent us Manna in order to sustain us as a church. He was saying, “Trust me, it will work out as it should.” Today, we will see how He did the same for Israel as they wandered in the wilderness.
Text Verse: You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth. Nehemiah 9:20
My friend Tom often says, “The Lord may not give you everything you want, but He will always give you everything you need.” He is great in that way! He never fails to meet our needs. And quite often, He sends us the things we want as well. He is the Giver of the extravagant, and He is the Provider of all we need. It is a truth that permeates His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. The Glory of the Lord (verses 9-11)
9 Then Moses spoke to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord,
The word for “before” in this verse is liphne which literally means “face” or “faces” and hence we get the idea of “before.” But what is implied is that the people are called together for a special meeting; a face to face meeting.
And not only is it the “people” in general, as if it could imply only the designated leaders of the tribes, but rather Moses has called “all the congregation.” Every person is to present their face to the Lord. And there is a reason for this, as the rest of the verse explains…
9 (con’t) for He has heard your complaints.’”
The word for “complaints” here is tluwnah. It’s a word that was introduced to the Bible in the last sermon and as was explained then, it is only used nine times in the Bible, six times in this chapter and three more in Numbers.
This is the fifth of those six times. It indicates a murmuring or a grumbling, as if the people have a resentment welling up inside of them which they have been sitting around moaning about. It wasn’t just a few people but the entire congregation has been whining. It started somewhere and the infection grew throughout the people of the camp. This was seen explicitly in verse 2, which said –
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” Exodus 16:6
At that time, their reason for complaining was also given –
“Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:3
But their whining was surely unjustified. Matthew Henry gives his thoughts on the words they spoke –
“We cannot suppose they had plenty in Egypt, nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness, while they had flocks and herds: none talk more absurdly than murmurers. When we begin to fret, we ought to consider, that God hears all our murmurings.” Matthew Henry
The Lord did hear their murmurings and promised to provide for them, again withholding His wrath at their lack of faith. His promise included two things – meat in the evening and in the morning bread to the full. When we looked at the verses from last week, in verse 7 it said this –
“And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord; for He hears your complaints against the Lord. But what are we, that you complain against us?” Exodus 16:7
Now, as the congregation is summoned, the glory of the Lord will appear in the cloud before all the people, but as was seen from a breakdown of the structure of the verses, this is not the “glory of the Lord” which verse 7 was speaking of.
Scholars whose commentaries tie the glory of the Lord in verse 7 with that which will now be seen have missed the significance of how the passage is structured and what it is trying to show us.
The pillar of cloud and fire has been with the people since Etham and they were expected to have faith that if the Lord was leading them in this way, that He would tend to their needs in the process. But instead of turning their eyes to the Lord in faith, they turned them inward in complaint.
He is now going to illuminate the cloud with His splendor in an attempt to wake them up and show that that if His glory is there ahead of them, then His glory will also be displayed among them.
10 Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel,
As was the case with Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, we see here as well. Aaron was given the instructions to speak by Moses and then he repeated the words to the whole congregation. However, this is probably more for the benefit of Aaron than it is for the sake of Moses’ speech impediment.
By having Aaron speak for Moses, it will show that he is, like Moses, a qualified representative of the Lord. The congregation was said to have complained against both of them in verse 2 and so having Aaron speak for Moses will show that their complaints against both of them were unjustified.
10 (con’t) that they looked toward the wilderness,
It is significant that these words are included. The Lord could have appeared directly above them as if He were an authoritarian Ruler lording Himself over the people. He could have radiated to them from the top of a nearby mountain as if He were a King on his throne ready to make a judgment or hand down an edict.
He could have appeared from the direction they had come, as if to say, “I will take you back to your pots full of meat in Egypt, just as you wished.” But none of these things occurred. Instead, He will manifest Himself in the direction of the wilderness.
In one sense, He had separated Himself from the people as if to say, “Your grumbling has caused a rift between you and Me. I am separated from you in order to keep from destroying you.” Additionally though, it was also a sign that the Lord determined to continue leading them into the wilderness when they broke camp.
That vast and inhospitable area which lay before them would consume them all if they were to simply venture into it without suitable provision. By manifesting Himself there, it was to be a sign to them that He was their provision and that what He would do would be sufficient for them.
The promise had already been made – “meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full.” Now they would have a visible manifestation of where that promise would come from. By seeing the Lord in this way, in the future they would be reminded of His glory every time they went out to reap what He sewed for them, and to gather what He had graciously left for them.
In this gathering, they were expected to behold the glory of the Lord each day. This then is what it meant in verse 7 with the words, “And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord.” What they picked up would be from the same Source as what their eyes beheld. The Lord in the cloud was to be the Giver of the bread – a marvelous picture of Christ in both instances.
10 (con’t) and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.
As the cloud was with them throughout the journey, this then must indicate a particular change in the cloud itself. Just as Christ was with the apostles throughout His ministry, there was a time when He more fully manifested His glory to them. That is recorded in all three synoptic gospels. Matthew records it this way –
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'” Matthew 17:1-4
The cloud which had led Israel suddenly burst forth with a glory hitherto unseen. There are certainly a few reasons for this. The first was already alluded to – the Lord was with the people and He would be both their guide and their sustenance in the wilderness.
Further, because he appeared to the people as Aaron spoke, it would revalidate his authority to be a spokesman on behalf of the Lord. In turn, because he spoke according to the instruction of Moses, Moses was likewise distinguished and therefore recognized as the Lord’s spokesman.
And finally, it was a visible demonstration of the majesty of the Lord. He wasn’t just an invisible entity which was surrounded by a pillar of cloud and fire. Instead, He is a visible entity which was merely concealed by that pillar. It is a picture of Christ.
Hebrews chapter 1 says that Christ is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” It is this brightness which burst forth from the cloud to show that there is more than just a hidden force, but a glorious Being; the God of Israel.
11 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
At least twelve times in this chapter, a verse begins with someone speaking to someone else and it continues on with what that person says. However, in this one instance, the words, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,” are set off as a separate verse. In this, the chapter has 36 verses instead of just 35. In turn, the book of Exodus is a verse longer, and in turn the Bible is a verse longer.
Each seemingly random addition like this one leads to a more perfect pattern which is found in the structure of the Bible. And so each time we come to a sentence which is divided like this, I try to highlight it to you in order to remind you that there is true wisdom behind each word and verse found in Scripture.
In addition to that, there is something for us to pay attention to here. Moses is mentioned seventeen times in this chapter, Aaron six times. And all six times that Aaron is mentioned, it is either in connection to Moses or speaking as directed by him.
The Lord has chosen Moses as His representative, and in turn he at times designates Aaron as his spokesman. What we are seeing in words, Israel was to see in person. The obvious nature of the established hierarchy makes the rebellions which are recorded all the more poignant.
Like the fifth commandment which asks us to honor our father and our mother, the Lord establishes hierarchies for a reason. When we complain against them, or refuse to be obedient to them, the result is that we end up harming ourselves and our relationships with them and with the Lord.
And one final point about these words. They should probably read, “And the Lord had spoke to Moses, saying…” rather than, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying…”
In time, this verse certainly precedes verse 7. But in order to ensure the proper structure was maintained to show that “the glory of the Lord mentioned in that verse was speaking of the bread from heaven rather than the appearance of the Lord in the wilderness, it is stated to us now.
Hebrew is deficient in tenses and so we have to infer whether something is present tense or past tense. In the case of these words, they are past. They preceded Moses’ words to the people and therefore Moses was not being presumptuous in what He said to the people. Instead, he was relaying what was already said to him, even though it is only now recorded.
12 “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel.
This is the last use of the word tluwnah, or “complaints” in the book of Exodus. Chapter 16 is at least partly given to show us that the Lord is not unaware of our complaining and that He is not unsympathetic to it.
When we are in need, our needs will be met according to His purposes. However, the next time that this word, tluwnah, is used there will be a different result than what is experienced in this chapter. In Numbers 14, the same congregation will receive very bad news because of their complaints –
“Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: 29 The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. 30 Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.'” Numbers 14:28-30
The very wilderness where the Lord has now manifested Himself in splendid glory will become the burial place for all of the people who refused to acknowledge Him as their faithful sovereign leader who would certainly provide for them if they would just humble their hearts before Him.
12 (con’t) Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight
The term for “twilight” here is ha’arbayim. It literally means, “between the evenings” and it was first used in Exodus 12:6 at the time of the Passover. This is now the second time it is used. I won’t re-explain all the details, but it is used 11 times in the Bible and each time it details the work of Christ; the time of day when He died on the cross.
What we are seeing here in the giving of the quail “between the evenings,” and the glory of the Lord being seen in the Manna in the morning, is exactingly seen first in the cross of Christ, Him giving His flesh for the sins of the world, and then in His resurrection where the bread of life, the resurrected Christ, comes forth from the grave in the morning. This is the very reason for the Lord’s Supper where weekly we say these words –
barukh atah Yehovah elohaynu, melech ha’olam, ha’motzi lekhem min ha’aretz – Blessed are Thou O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth Bread from the earth.
It was “between the evenings” that Jesus Christ died on the cross, just as these quail will die for the people’s meal. And, it was in the morning that the Bread of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ came forth from the grave, just as the Manna miraculously appeared each morning.
12 (con’t) you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread.
Remembering that these words have already been spoken to Moses and we are only now seeing them, we can see why there is the change from verse 4 which only spoke of the “bread from heaven.” It is not an arbitrary insert by a fumbling scribe, but a logical progression of thought in combination with a marvelous series of parallelisms which have helped us to determine what is going on.
This is certain because we come to the second use in the Bible of the word saba, which means to be “sated” or “satisfied.” The first was in verse 8. Its use shows us that this verse certainly precedes verse 8 and Moses is repeating what he was told.
If the details seem overwhelming, imagine my Monday, 17 August as I went back and forth between verses tying to put together a timeline that would help you grasp what is going on. In the end, Bible study is hard, but the rewards are heavenly.
We are getting a look into the mind of God as He slowly and methodically reveals His word to us. Each verse is selected to show us what happened and how it has a greater fulfillment in Christ the Lord.
Why is it that the Lord chose this chapter of the Bible to introduce the word saba, or satisfied? It is because this chapter pictures the only thing that can truly satisfy – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is exactly what Jesus said concerning these things in John 6:35 –
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
12 (con’t) And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
The term “Lord” or “Yehovah” is mentioned 22 times in this chapter. The word God or elohim is mentioned only once and it is only mentioned in relation to the Lord – ani Yehovah elohekem, “I am the Lord your God.”
Notice though that the proclamation is made in connection with the giving of the meat and the bread. Out of all of the 22 uses of “Lord” in the chapter, He chooses this verse with this precept to explicitly remind them and us of who He is. Why would this be?
The answer is Jesus. The word “meat” here is basar. It literally means “flesh.” It is the body of a being which is “seen in contrast to the spirit (ruah)” (HAW). The Lord is giving Israel flesh and bread to sustain them. This is exactly what Jesus claimed He was giving to His people.
In John 6, Jesus speaks extensively about the bread from heaven which is detailed in this passage of Exodus. To sum up his words to the people, He says this –
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58
In that passage, He uses both the Greek word for “flesh” which is sarx and the Greek word for “bread” which is artos. This is why this 12th verse of the chapter says, “And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” In the end, it is all about Jesus. Christ gave His flesh and He is the true Bread of heaven. By these, we know that He is the Lord our God.
Take time today to read John chapter 6 from the 22nd verse on and you will better understand the relationship between these two wonderful stories.
You shall know that I am the Lord your God
I will make it evident in the works I do
Be confident that as in this earth you trod
That I have given sufficient evidence to you
I prevailed over the law, which no one else could do
I showed that I am the Holy One of Israel
And then I went to Calvary’s cross for you
And so of My works, you are to tell
I proved My sinless life when I broke death’s chains
In the resurrection, I proved that I have set you free
Now the only thing which remains
Is that You reach out your heart and receive Me
II. Bread from the Lord (verses 13-16)
13 So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp,
This is the first of four times that quails will be mentioned in the Bible. The word is actually in the singular, ha’selav, or “the quail.” It is as if they came up as one and alighted everywhere at the same time, covering the camp.
I will explain the word selav for a new brain squiggle for each of you. Selav is an orthographical variation on the word shalah which means “prosper.” That idea comes from “to be quiet” or “to be at ease.” The connection between the words is that quails are fat and slow in flight because of their weight, and so they are given this name.
The other account of quails being given to the people in this manner is in Numbers 11. However, when the people eat of those quails, many will die. From a New Testament perspective of why, we can go to Paul’s admonition concerning the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians chapter 11.
There in verse 30, Paul told them that because of not discerning the Lord’s body, many were weak and sick and many had died. We are to come to the Lord’s Table recognizing our state before Him, not arrogantly, but in humility. Israel will fail to do this in the book of Numbers and they will suffer because of it.
Albert Barnes notes this about migrating quail which can be observed even in our modern times –
“This bird migrates in immense numbers in spring from the south: it is nowhere more common than in the neighborhood of the Red Sea. In this passage we read of a single flight so dense that it covered the encampment. The miracle consisted in the precise time of the arrival and its coincidence with the announcement.” Albert Barnes
After spending the winter in Africa, they fly north again. Once they cross the Red Sea, they are utterly exhausted and can be gathered up in enormous numbers with no difficulty at all. As Barnes noted though, the miracle is that they arrived exactly at the time the Lord said they would.
Flesh would be given at the same time that Christ died on the cross – between the evenings. The giving of the quails pictures the giving of the Son of God for the nourishment of our life.
13 (con’t) and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp.
The bread from heaven, of which a name has not yet been given, came in the morning with a layer of dew. The word translated here as “lay” is shekavah, which means “an emission.” It’s a surprising word to show up here, but nothing sexual should be inferred.
The word is used for the first time here and a total of just 9 times in the Bible, all in Exodus through Leviticus. This word shekavah is defined as the “(seed of) copulation” (HAW). This would then imply “that which gives life.” If that doesn’t perfectly fit with Jesus’ words of John 6, I’m not sure what does –
“Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32, 33
Again, like the giving of the quail, and even the timing of their arrival, the appearance of the dew around the camp is a perfect picture of the Lord Jesus and His work for us. The true Bread of God is what gives life to the world, pictured by the bread in the wilderness that was provided to give life to Israel.
Interestingly, the term “dew” here has only been used in one account prior to this. That was in Genesis 27, during the blessing by Isaac on his two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was blessed with the dew of heaven and Esau’s blessing was being away from the dew of heaven (NIV). This picture of the “dew of heaven” is beginning to be realized here in Exodus 16.
14 And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.
There is a lot of interesting information in this verse. We have the “dew” mentioned again which was just explained in the previous verse. Once that was gone up from the ground, something wonderful is left behind for the people.
It is a small round substance. The word for “small” is daq. It literally means “thin.” The word for “round” here is khaspas, which is used only this once in the entire Bible. It means round, but not round like a ball. Rather it is round like a scale. Its root means to peel like a scale and so we get the idea of a round thing which is very thin.
And the word for “frost” here is kphowr which indicates “to cover” as in the frost covering the ground. This word comes from kaphar, which means to appease, atone, forgive, be merciful, etc. It is again a picture of Christ who covers our sins in His mercy.
Israel’s receiving of this bread from heaven is merely looking forward to our atonement and the sustaining of our salvation as we walk in this fallen world. As long as we are here, we continue to rely on the true Bread from heaven to sustain us until we enter the Land of Promise, which is also exactly when Israel’s Manna ended.
When they crossed over the Jordan and into Canaan, we read this from the book of Joshua –
“Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. 11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. 12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:10-12
As the Manna only became visible when the dew had lifted, it is probably an explanation for the enigmatic expression used by Jesus in Revelation 2:17 where He promises those who overcome “some of the hidden Manna to eat.” Until the dew lifts, it remains hidden.
15 So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
The Hebrew words translated here as “What is it?” read, man hu. Though it would seemingly be easy to translate this, it isn’t. The word “what” is not man, but mah. And so some scholars say that it doesn’t mean “What is it?” but rather “It is a gift.” The Hebrew word manan means “gift” and so they believe that it is a shortened exclamation for that.
Other scholars disagree and say that man obviously means “what” because that is what it means in the Aramaic language. But why would one word from Aramaic be translated this one time in the Bible as “what?”
The KJV avoids the conflict by saying, “It is manna.” This doesn’t explain anything. Instead, it simply translates what the Hebrew says. But then it causes it to contradict itself because it next says that they named it Manna because they didn’t know what it was. That makes as much sense as a football-bat.
I’m sure that the meaning of the word Manna is as clear as mud to you now. And just so you know when you read the Bible, the word is man, whatever man means. I would prefer “gift” because this is exactly how Jesus and His work is described in the New Testament.
15 (con’t) And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.
Whatever the actual meaning of man is, Moses explains that it is the bread which the Lord has provided for them. It is an exact picture of the words of Jesus in John 6. The Lord has given us the Bread of life to eat and to sustain us for all of the ages to come.
16 This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need,
Moses’ instructions are clear concerning what should be gathered – “according to each one’s need.” The Hebrew however is much more expressive. It says ish le-pi akelow – “man as his mouth to his eating.”
16 (con’t) one omer for each person,
An omer for each person. In Hebrew, la’gulgoleth – literally “for every head.” Gulgoleth means head or skull and you can hear the similarity to the name of the hill where Jesus died, Golgotha – The Place of the Skull. This is the first of twelve times it will be used in the Bible. For each person reckoned, one omer is designated.
This is an average for what a man would normally eat in a day, an omer per person. It is the first time this measurement is given in the Bible and scholars vary in what they believe it is, from about three to six pints. If it is only three pints, and an average family had four people, then that would be six quarts collected daily.
It is assumed that there were about two million people in the congregation and so this would mean about 93,500 bushels of Manna were collected every single day. If you have ever watched one of the stupid programs on TV that show someone collecting some type of stuff in the desert and claiming it is Manna, now you can see how utterly ridiculous that is
This could be nothing other than a miraculously provided food source. Considering that this went on, day after day, for about 40 years, there is no possible way that what is described on those stupid shows could ever come close to meeting what the account says for even one day, much less for 40 years.
16 (con’t) according to the number of persons;
However many dwelt together in each residence, the amount was to be figured according to that.
16 (con’t) let every man take for those who are in his tent.’”
The directions given are very precise and follow a set pattern – “man as his mouth to his eating; one omer for every head; according to the number of souls.” It is this that each man was to take for his tent. And just so you know, the word “tent” in this verse is singular, not plural. The KJV gets a demerit on this verse for translating it as “his tents.”
There has been a lot of specificity in these verses, all of it pointing to God’s provision in Christ. The people would be tended to and they would even be given an abundance to meet their daily needs. As Matthew Henry sums up these words –
“God promises a speedy and constant supply. He tried whether they would trust him, and rest satisfied with the bread of the day in its day. Thus he tried if they would serve him, and it appeared how ungrateful they were. When God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know he was their Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know he was their God.” Matthew Henry
The flesh which God has sent, it is food indeed
It is sufficient to fill us and give us life anew
And when we have partaken, we will then follow at the lead
Of our Lord, who has given Himself for me and you
The dew of heaven has left behind a gift for us
There is bread enough for all to eat
And this only pictures the coming Messiah, Jesus
Oh my! How delicious is this Bread… so very sweet
Thank You, O God, for filling our souls in such a way
You have granted us life through Your Son
And so we will exalt You through Him, each and every day
Until when at last this earthly life is done
Then we shall praise You forevermore O God
As in the heavenly Jerusalem we shall forever trod
III. Our Daily Bread (verses 17-21)
17 Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less.
What seems to be implied here is not disobedience, but rather initiative. Some people were more inclined to gather, and some less. They gathered what came to their hand until they were done gathering. It follows through then that if the Manna pictures Christ, that we can apply the same to us.
Some of us here gather in a little bit of Christ, some gather in a lot. A preacher or a scholar may struggle over the Bible, searching out its mysteries in order to bring them home to his flock. But the blue-collar worker may read the word cursorily at best and not really intending to find anything other than the surface story which is before his eyes.
Likewise, the rich man in the church may gather in a great deal in order to meet the needs of its expenses while the poor widow may only give 2 small pennies to meet them. And yet, when the two are combined, something wonderful happens…
18 So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need.
The marvelous result of the gathering of the people resulted in having exactly what was needed according to each one’s need. The word “left over” is adaph. This is its first use and it means “excess.” It is only found nine times, and only in Moses’ writings from Exodus through Numbers.
A couple things seem to be implied in this passage. One is that this was that the miraculous gathering occurred each day, not just on the first day. And the second thing is that it was all gathered into heaps and then portioned out. What was collected by all collectively met the needs of all individually.
This verse is used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 to show exactly this. In the end, every need is met according to the wisdom of God. He had asked the Corinthians to assist in giving to the saints in Jerusalem who were in need. In order to inspire them on in their giving, he wrote these words –
“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, ‘He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.'” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15
If we learn nothing else from this verse, we should at least see that the Lord truly has it all under control. This isn’t a verse condoning communism. There is nothing here or anywhere in the Bible to suggest that everyone’s property belonged to the collective whole.
Rather this is a passage which asks us to realize that the Lord has handed out abilities and gifts to all and that each of these collectively works towards the fulfilling of every need. Some have greater needs, some have lesser, but in the end, every need is met.
19 And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.”
This directive is given specifically as one requesting trust. In essence, “The Lord will provide and so you are to trust that He will, in fact, provide.” They were to recognize their complete dependence on God, and have sufficient faith that He would meet their needs according to His promises.
In the same chapter of Matthew which includes the words, “Give us this day our daily bread” Jesus seems to remind his audience of this very passage from Exodus –
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:31-34
20 Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.
This is another miracle of the Manna. When we get to verse 24, we will see that when they gathered enough for two days with the approaching Sabbath, it will last both days without breeding worms or stinking.
Further, in verse 33, Moses and Aaron were instructed to “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations.” This Manna was intended to last forever. Thus, the manna was something incorruptible in and of itself, but which became corruptible through disobedience.
This then is an exacting picture of how Paul describes our life in Christ. One’s obedience to the Lord, or lack of it, pictured by how the Israelite’s treated the Manna, was either rewarded or frowned upon. And it was the light of the new day which showed the results of what occurred.
The manna itself had nothing wrong with it, but how it was treated brought the negative result. Paul says that our work for the Lord is the same. If we act in a positive manner, there will be a reward, if negatively, a loss. Here are his words from 1 Corinthians 3 –
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
*21 So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.
And now we see another miracle of the Manna. The Manna that wasn’t collected melted away under the sun. And yet, we will read in verse 23 that it could be baked or boiled, something much hotter than the sun shining on it, and yet it wouldn’t melt away.
The Lord ensured that the Manna wasn’t just left on the ground to be trampled underfoot, nor was it left out where people could gather it any time during the day, and nor could any from outside the covenant community come along and partake of it. Instead, they needed to be diligent in gathering it as early and as much as possible in order to be ready for the day ahead.
The Manna was to be a lesson to them that they were dependent on the Lord for their sustenance, and it was to be a way of instilling in them discipline and obedience while still lavishing them with abundant grace.
For us, it is no different. God has shown us that we are utterly dependent on Him for our salvation. We are also dependent on Him for the gifts we possess. We are to use those gifts through discipline and obedience to His glory. If we fail to do so, it is we who will go hungry.
Everything we need is found in Christ and we simply need to reach out, day by day, and receive it. If you have never made a first and heartfelt commitment to this wonderful Lord who is pictured in these verses, please let me introduce Him to you now so you can…
Closing Verse: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
Next Week: Exodus 16:22-36 (Entering God’s Rest – The Hidden Omer) (47th Exodus Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
Quail and Manna
Then Moses spoke to Aaron this word
“Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel
‘Come near before the Lord
For He has heard your complaints as well
Now it came to pass
As Aaron spoke to the whole congregation
Of the children of Israel
Yes the entire nation
That they looked toward the wilderness
And behold the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud
A sight which did impress
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
“I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel
Speak to them, as I am relaying
Saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat – get ready for a tasty smell
And in the morning you shall be filled with bread
And you shall know that I am the Lord your God
Just as I have said
So it was that quails came up at evening
And covered the camp of Israel
And in the morning
The dew lay all around the camp as well
And when the layer of dew lifted
There, on the surface of the wilderness all around
Was a small round substance which had been gifted
As fine as frost on the ground
So when the children of Israel saw it
They said to one another, “What is it?”
For they did not know what it was
They didn’t have clue, not even a bit
And Moses said to them concerning this tasty treat
“This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat
This is the thing which the Lord has commanded:
‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need
One omer for each person, I am being candid
This is what I have decreed
According to the number of persons, to this extent
Let every man take for those who are in his tent
Then the children of Israel did so
And gathered, some more, some less even though
So when they measured it by omers after they brought it back
He who gathered much had nothing left over, indeed
And he who gathered little had no lack
Every man had gathered according to each one’s need
And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning
Notwithstanding, Moses they did not heed
But some of them left part of it until morning ignoring the warning
And it bred worms and stank because of their misdeed
And Moses was angry with them in turn
Because they refused to pay attention and learn
So they gathered it every morning
Every man according to his need
And when the sun became hot, it melted
An impressive lesson for them indeed
Here we are, O God, just like Israel
We complain about every possible thing
Even when we know that surely all is well
Still we let our complaints openly ring
And we fail to heed to Your word
We find it easier to simply disobey
Even in the presence of our Lord
We get up and complain each and every day
Help us, O Lord, to simply trust and obey
Your word has told us that everything will be ok
Give us hearts that are geared toward glorifying you
And eyes that are fixed solely upon Jesus
This is surely the right thing to do
And so grant this kind favor to each one of us!
Thank You, O God, for our precious Lord Jesus
Thank You for leading us each step of the way
Be exalted on our lips; hear the praises from each of us
As we come before you day unto day
Hallelujah and Amen…