Exodus 16 (Read Here)
Exodus 17:1-7 (Read Here)
Exodus 17:8-16 (Read Here)
Exodus 18 (Read Here)
Exodus 19 (Read Here)
In our, How is your heart today? Do you find yourself hungry or thirsty for provision, yet it seems as though time is running short? How have you responded to the state of your current circumstances? Are you expecting God to show up right on time, or have you been frustrated, complaining in the waiting? Whichever camp you find yourself in, God extends His grace. Throughout our time in Exodus 16-19 this week, we have had the opportunity to meditate on the sheer mercy and abundant faithfulness of God. He is the ultimate loving Father–and though His heart grieves when we doubt His goodness, He calls us to look up and remember all that He has done before. He is unchanging–the God of the ages. He sent plague upon plague over Egypt and led His people into freedom from slavery. He covered them by cloud during the day for protection and a fire by night to light the way. He put songs of praise in their hearts to replace the wailings of their grief from generations past. He did all of that and so much more, but still, the Israelites doubted. They continually grumbled and declared that they would have rather stayed in bondage in Egypt, where they never went physically hungry than to starve in the wilderness without knowing what would come next. But what about faith? What He has done, He can do again because His power has no end or limitations. Perhaps the Israelites were intimidated by the reality that they were now under the sovereign rule of the unseen God–but they were never unseen by Him. He is the God who sees and hears, and knows all things about His people.
There is a portion from chapter 16 that resonates deeply with us as we ponder its symbolism. Verses 11-12 read, “And the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight, you shall eat meat, and in the morning, you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.” Then you shall know.
Interestingly, we read a few chapters back that God’s purpose for bringing the plagues and hardening the heart of Pharaoh was to show the world that He alone was the LORD God. His purpose in providing food for the people was the same. By using that same phrasing, God gave the Israelites an opportunity to recount the ways in which He made His glory known in Egypt–and to incline their hearts to believe that He would always make His glory known to His chosen people. Rather than cutting the people off for their lack of gratitude, He sent provision from heaven. What a loving Father. He was their portion, and He reminded them time and time again. Later in chapter 16, we read the beautiful, dream-like description of how the quail came at twilight and how the people woke to a lovely, dewy morning. “And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground” (verse 14). The imagery of the dew poses an awe-inspiring notion to the reader. In nature, dew actually plays a role in the purification of air. It also forms a protective barrier on plants to keep them from wilting in hot, dry conditions. God sent the dew to demonstrate that His provision leads to our purification. As we follow the instructions of the Lord by faith, He will keep us holy before Him. Another reason God sent the dew was to protect the manna He sent from the harsh conditions of the wilderness. What God sends forth is always blessed. He invites us to bring our requests to Him, and He will always provide the proper portion we need each day…and it will be enough to keep us resilient through the hard, dry seasons as we continue to trust Him to send provision. He is our pure portion.
Even though God told the Israelites to only gather what they needed each day, some of the people saved some for the next day. This revealed their lack of trust in the Lord to send nourishment again. When this happened, the worms fed on the bread. This teaches us that He alone is the source of life; we cannot sustain ourselves. All of these references to bread offer a foretaste of the bread that would come from heaven again to Israel in the little town of Bethlehem…otherwise known as “the house of bread.” Don’t you find it fascinating that so many of these records in Exodus point to Christ? Each foreshadowing of the Messiah further paints the picture that the God of Israel is the beginning and the end. The Alpha and Omega. The One who was and is to come. Chapter 16 illustrates the point that those who are called by God do not always prove faithful; however, HE is ever-faithful, and His promises never fail!
In chapter 17, the people complained about this time of thirst. Moses was weary of their grumbling, and God told him to simply “take in hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it.” How many times have we forgotten the tools God has given us to conquer the enemy and overcome the wrestlings of our flesh? How often have we set aside those things He has given us as reminders of His power and faithfulness? Moses had the staff–we have the Word. When we grow weary in waiting for God to move, we need to take in hand the Word of God, with which light was spoken into darkness, captives were freed, the dead were raised, and the world forever changed! We must remember that His power is the same as yesterday and forevermore. When God spoke to Moses in this way, it is evident that it revived his faith in a powerful way–because, later on in this chapter, when the Amalekites attacked the people of Israel, Moses said, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand” (verse 9). Now, that is expectant faith! As the battle waged, the Scripture says that for as long as Moses kept his arms outstretched toward heaven, the people of God prevailed. There is so much significance in keeping our hands raised in faith to God, no matter how overwhelmed we might feel. Our praise is a furious weapon against the enemy!
Chapter 18 details the visit Moses had with his father-in-law, Jethro. It’s heart-warming to read of their time together. Can you imagine it? Moses and Jethro have a cheerful reunion, perhaps sitting around a campfire…Jethro sat amazed by the stories Moses passionately told about their adventures from Egypt to the wilderness and how God miraculously paved the way for them. I picture Moses being very animated and excited by the great power God demonstrated to the world and for His prized people. Jethro responded, “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods’” (verse 11). God’s purposes were accomplished–more people were coming to discover the breadth of His great might and wonder as the sovereign Lord! As God works in our lives, we should be enthusiastic in the way that we share His dealings with others. We must ask the Lord to increase our desire and willingness to generate conversations with people that tell of His goodness so that they will know and believe that He is greater.
In our final reading this week, in chapter 19, we learned that God told Moses to tell the people that He is the One who redeemed them, protected them, and sustained them from Pharaoh’s hand. He also stated that He would consider them His own possession and make them a holy nation, if only they would keep their covenant with Him and obey (verses 3-6). What a precious offering. This promise is for each of us now. If only we choose to trust and follow the One who has always strengthened us, He will make us His own. Verse 3 states that “Moses went up to God.” When we long to hear from Him–when the world gets noisy and confusing–where do we go? Are we willing to approach God with confidence that He will respond? Friend, He delights when we separate ourselves from the crowd and draw near with our requests. God told Moses to, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (verse 9-11). What a wonderful reality that the people of God were called into by this proclamation. The expanding beauty of this word of the Lord is found in the reality that we are invited to do the same. As we consecrate ourselves to God, we are committing to devote ourselves in full worship and admiration to the One who saved us. As we do this, God sets us apart for the work of His kingdom. For the Church Age, this word of the Lord also alludes to the coming Christ–that Jesus went before the Father on our behalf. We are washed clean when we believe in the finished work of His death and resurrection, and we wait with anticipation for the miracle of His second coming…the day where “the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people!” We must ready ourselves for this day!
There are countless other treasures to mine from these chapters, but for now let’s simply meditate on these core truths:
– God will remain faithful to His people always, and His power is without end.
– We must remember what God has done yesterday so we will not lose sight of the promise He has for tomorrow.
– It is essential to take in hand the Word of God, stretch our arms to heaven in faith, and trust God to supply us with the strength and ability needed to face the challenges before us.
– There is such significance in pursuing fruitful conversations about what the Lord has done in our lives, and affirming one another in the fact that God is greater than ALL other gods!
-Favor comes by following the instructions of the Lord, worshiping Him in every season, and preparing for His coming glory by drawing near to His presence today.
In closing, I invite you to reflect on Chapter 16:32-33:
“Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it [the manna] be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.”
Friends, we can do a similar practice. In fact, it’s essential that we do. This passage brings to mind a beautiful parallel found in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show us that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” God told the Israelites to preserve some manna in jars so they could carry it with them through the ages to come. This served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people in the wilderness. The preserved bread was a token of God’s sovereign power, a symbol of how He preserved His people against destruction. Now, for those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus, we carry Him, the Bread of Life, in our hearts through the ages. We are called to tell the stories of what He has done in our lives, and to show the world that He alone sustains. He preserved our souls, by His saving grace, when we placed our trust in Him. Therefore, we are the jars that hold the preserved Bread of Life, who was and is our eternal treasure–the ultimate token of God’s sovereign power in sustaining His people as we await the “dew” of heaven to fall on the earth once again!
Prompts to ponder as your rest this weekend:
– Where do I take my complaints?
– What moments in my life, where God sustained me, have I forgotten about?
– Have I thanked the Lord for giving me strength for another day?
– To what have I consecrated myself?
– In what ways can I share the truth of God’s goodness and might with someone today?
– Write a personal prayer to God, fully submitting yourself into His care. Take time to express your fears, concerns, and even your failure to trust Him. Ask the Lord to give you eyes that look for Him in all things, arms that reach for Him in times of need, and a willingness to retreat to quiet spaces in order to hear directly from Him.
Remember, you are a living, breathing testament of God’s saving grace. As you go about your day, walk confidently knowing that He has preserved you as His own possession…and take heart, because He takes care of what belongs to Him! May God bless you with His pure portion and extravagant love.