Summary: The rhythms of deliverance, discontentment, provision, testing, disobedience, & deliverance; and daily bread, daily work, Sabbath, & commemoration.
A TEST OF OBEDIENCE
In this passage, we join the children of Israel just six weeks into their wilderness journey.
The ten plagues, the first Passover, the deliverance out of Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea all lay behind them.
I see a rhythm here, or perhaps even two rhythms interwoven together.
The (i) deliverance of God – redemption – lies behind.
Before long His people become full of (ii) discontentment - and mouthy with it.
How easy it is to set a rosy character on our past life, and to forget that then, there, we were in bondage (Exodus 16:3).
Yet the LORD is merciful.
He has already heard the cries of His people in bondage (Exodus 3:7).
The same LORD knows our sorrows ahead of time.
Is it beyond belief that He has already prepared our path before us, complete with all the necessities of life (Psalm 23:2-3)?
So instead of directly punishing His people for their insolence, He sets a table before them, and furnishes it with good things (Psalm 23:5).
He makes (iii) provision for all the needs of all His people (Exodus 16:4).
Yet with the provision comes a (iv) testing.
In this we see the second rhythm emerging.
With the (a) daily bread, He also gives us (b) daily work.
If God’s first gift to Adam was a garden, His second was a set of gardening tools (Genesis 2:15).
Within this system, He also gives the (c) Sabbath (Exodus 16:22-23).
Furthermore, the whole episode is (d) commemorated before the altar of the LORD (Exodus 16:33).
In this we see Jesus, the bread of life (John 6:35) – and perhaps also the Communion.
Understandably, but (v) disobediently, there were those who sought to lay up more than a day’s supply (Exodus 16:20).
There were also those who hunted for the food on the one day that they were told that it would not be there (Exodus 16:27).
Yet the LORD did not go back on His word, and continued to provide for the whole forty years of the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16:35).
Perhaps the most significant incident in this whole passage is the appearing of the glory of the LORD in the cloud (Exodus 16:10).
Such is the mercy of the LORD that (vi) deliverance is never far from any one of us.