Exodus 16

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 24, 2008


The slaves have been rescued from Egypt.  They had marched through the middle of the Red Sea.  They had watched the Egyptian army drown.

When they complained about the bitter waters of Marah, God showed Moses a tree.  When Moses had the tree put into the bitter waters, they turned sweet.

Exodus 16

:1-3 The next complaint

:1 And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt.

Elim‘Eylim – “palms”. This was the stop where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees.

Wildernessmidbar – uninhabited land, wilderness

SinCiyn (“seen”) This is probably a good place to remind us all that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, not English. When the translators use the word “Sin”, they are simply giving us the Hebrew word pronounced “seen”, not our English word “sin”. The Hebrew word can be translated “thorn” or “clay”.

The book of Numbers gives us a few details that are skipped here in Exodus.

(Num 33:10-11 NKJV) They moved from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. {11} They moved from the Red Sea and camped in the Wilderness of Sin.

If our placement of the Red Sea crossing at Nuweiba and the location of Mount Sinai in Arabia is accurate, that would mean they are moving south along the Red Sea, along the Gulf of Aqaba.

fifteenth day … - It’s been just a little over a month since the Passover.  They’ve travelled something close to three hundred miles.

:2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

complainedluwn – to grumble, complain, murmur

Last week when they came to the place of bitter waters, they complained against Moses because they couldn’t drink the water.

Now they’re going to complain because they are afraid they’re going to starve in the wilderness.

It’s likely that when they left Egypt they had taken some food supplies along, but they are apparently coming to the end of their food stores.

:3 And the children of Israel said to them, "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."

In the book of Numbers, their complaining would give us a few more details about their diet in Egypt.

(Num 11:5 NKJV) "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;

Archaeologists found and translated a schoolboy’s letter dating back to this time, describing the food in an Egyptian city:

“Its granaries are full of barley and wheat, and they reach unto the sky. Garlic and leeks for food are there, and lettuce of the garden; pomegranates, apples, and olives; figs from the orchard, sweet wine of Kankeme, surpassing honey; red uz-fish from the canal; fish from Lake Neher…”

pots of meat – Egyptians had three-legged bronze pots used for cooking. Ancient Egyptians loved to eat meat. Their favorite meats were ox and goose. They also ate fish from the Nile River. The problem with this complaint is that even though Egyptians would eat a lot of meat, slaves wouldn’t. They remember things differently than they actually were.

Beware of looking back to the “good old days”. We have “selective” memory, and tend to only remember the good times and those we don’t quite remember very accurately. We tend to forget what it was like living under slavery to Pharaoh.

:4-12 God’s response to their need

:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.

testnacah – to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test


Testing 1-2-3

One of the key ingredients in this chapter is the test.
When God allows you to be stretched, could it be that you are facing a test?

Test at Duke

At Duke University, there were four sophomores taking Organic Chemistry. They did so well on all the quizzes, midterms and labs, etc., that each had an “A” so far for the semester. These four friends were so confident that the weekend before finals, they decided to go up to University of Virginia and party with some friends up there. They had a great time. However, after all the partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn’t make it back to Duke until early Monday morning. Rather than taking the final then, they decided to find their professor after the final and explain to him why they missed it. They explained that they had gone to UVA for the weekend with the plan to come to study, but, unfortunately, they had a flat tire on the way back, didn’t have a spare, and couldn’t get help for a long time. As a result, they missed the final. The Professor thought it over and then agreed they could make up the final the following day. The guys were elated and relieved. They studied that night and went in the next day at the time the professor had told them. He placed them in separate rooms and handed each of them a test booklet, and told them to begin. They looked at the first problem, worth 5 points. It was something simple about free radical formation. “Cool,” they thought at the same time, each one in his separate room, “this is going to be easy.” Each finished the problem and then turned the page. On the second page was written: (For 95 points): Which tire?

This issue of the Israelites starving and God providing food was going to be a test.  What was the test? I see two tests here:

Trust. Have they learned to trust God?

Obey. Have they learned yet that they need to be doing what God says?

The last question is really based on the first. God is going to give them an answer to their problem, but if they don’t trust God, they’re not going to do what God says.

:5 "And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily."

:6 Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening you shall know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt.

:7 "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?"


Leadership isn’t fun

that you complain against us?
Moses is learning what it means to lead people. It’s not very fun. You might be doing the very best that can be done, and there are always going to be people who will not be happy.

:8 Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD."


What are you complaining about?

It seems all some people do is complain.
Try These
Harry is at a banquet and keeps complaining that his false teeth are hurting him. The guy sitting to his left reaches into his pocket and pulls out a set of dentures. He hands them to Harry and says, “Try these.” Harry tries them, and says, “Thanks anyway, but they’re too tight.” The guy pulls out another set and hands them to Harry. They fit perfectly, so Harry wears them for the entire night. At the end of the banquet, Harry hands them back to the guy and says, “They fit me perfectly. Are you a dentist?” The guy says, “No, I’m an undertaker.”
Parrot Wouldn’t Talk
A lady is looking to purchase a pet for companionship, and so goes to the local pet shop to purchase a cat or such. However, when she arrives, she is intrigued by the beautiful young parrot on a perch by the counter. “Will this parrot talk?” she asks the owner. “Oh yes, this parrot comes from a long line of excellent talkers. In two weeks, he will be mimicking your speech like he’s having a conversation with you.” The lady excitedly purchases the bird in a large cage (for a handsome fee) and takes it home. Two weeks later, she comes into the store and complains, “This bird you sold me hasn’t said a word!” The owner looks puzzled. “I can’t understand it, that is our best talker. He should talk when he swings.” “What? You didn’t sell me a swing!” The owner happily sells her a swing for the bird’s cage. But, two weeks later, she returns with the same complaint. “I really can’t understand it, he should talk after exercising on the ladder,” the owner says. Frustrated that he didn’t tell her this before, she buys the ladder. Two weeks later, ...you know. The owner says, “something is wrong, because when he climbs on the stairs, and gets on his swing, and looks into the mirror, he definitely should be talking!” She buys the stinkin’ mirror, and in 2 more weeks... In she walks with the cage, containing the swing, ladder, mirror... and one dead parrot with its legs up in the air. “Here’s your dumb bird and all the junk you sold me - all I want is my money back!” The owner was dumbfounded. “Lady, this is the first parrot that has ever come back - didn’t the parrot say any words at all??” “Well, now that you mention it, he did, say one thing,” she said. “He said, ‘Doesn’t, that, shop, sell... Bird food?!?’”
A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official, who apologized profusely saying, “I must have taken Leif off my census.”
Who are the people you find yourself complaining about? A boss? Your spouse? Your teenager?
When I don’t like how people are treating me and I complain, is it possible that I’m really complaining against God?

Could it be that I don’t trust that God is big enough to take care of this person who I don’t like?

Here’s the real principle:  Complaining displays my lack of faith.

:9 Then Moses spoke to Aaron, "Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your complaints.'"

God even hears our complaints. Hmmm.

Sometimes we get the idea that God doesn’t hear us if we don’t pray perfect little prayers.

In truth, God even hears our complaining.

As you'll notice, He even answers them sometimes.

:10 Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to 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 spoke to Moses, saying,

:12 "I have heard the complaints of the children 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.'"

:13-21 Meat and Bread

:13 So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp.

quails – these small birds are actually still common to Saudi Arabia.

: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.

round substancechacpac – scale-like, flake-like

As the dew evaporates, there were little frosted flakes covering the ground.  Grrrreat!

: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. And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.

What is it – the Hebrew phrase here is “man hu”.  In verse 31 it is shortened to just “man” meaning “what”?

They stood around and looked at each other and said, “What is it?”

:16 "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, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.'"

omer‘omer – a dry measure of about 2-3 liters.

This goes to show us that the ancient Israelites were great baseball players. Each person got an “omer”.

:17 Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less.

: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.

If you had more people in your family then you gathered more, if you had less, then you gathered less. The idea is that each person will get an omer of this stuff.

:19 And Moses said, "Let no one leave any of it till morning."

They were to eat it all up.  No leftovers.  No saving it until tomorrow.

But what if this was all there was? These people don’t know for sure this stuff is going to show up every day.

Some of the people are probably thinking about playing it safe. They’re going to keep some of it in case the next shipment doesn’t arrive.

: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.

You could look at this and think that God was teaching the people not to save for the future.  But the lesson here is different.  God is trying to teach them that He will provide for their needs every day.

Jesus taught us to pray,

(Mat 6:11 NKJV)  Give us this day our daily bread.

:21 So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.

They needed to gather it in the morning. If they slept in and waiting until noon to go to the wilderness store, the stuff would be gone.


Spiritual food

I see some principles here that apply to our own spiritual nourishment.
1.     God promises enough for every day.
God promised enough for every person.  It was readily available.
2.      You have to go out and get it
If you want to eat, you need to go get it.
You and I need to take the time to read our Bible and spend time with God every day.
3.     Do it when it’s there.
For some of us it means getting up a little earlier every day to spend time with God before the day gets away.
For others there is a time of day that God provides you – maybe at break time at work, maybe after the kids are asleep – but you need to take the time and use it before the manna melts.
If you don’t take advantage of the time it’s there, it will “melt” and be gone.
4.      Leftovers stink.
Don’t try living off of yesterday’s manna.
Some of us try to live off of what we get from the sermon on Sunday – that’s got to really stink by Saturday …

:22-30 The Sabbath

:22 And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

They had been told (vs. 5) that there would be twice as much stuff available on the sixth day, so they all took twice as much just like they were supposed to.

:23 Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD has said: 'Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.'"

Sabbathshabbath – Sabbath; it comes from the word shabath which means “to cease, desist, rest”. This is the first time the word “Sabbath” is found in the Bible.

There will be an actual law, one of the Ten Commandments, that will clarify what God is asking the Israelites to do.

The word is actually very similar to the word for “seventh” ([email protected]‘iy).  In Genesis 2:2, God “rested” on the “seventh” day.

For the first time God is going to give these weary slaves a “day off”.

:24 So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.

Some people have tried to explain the manna away as some sort of natural phenomena like plants or insects.

People have tried to explain the manna by claiming it came from a type of lichen that produces edible globules, even though the stuff doesn’t grow in this region.

Others suggest that there is a substance that a type of insect secrets on the branches of tamarisk trees. But it only appears for a period of three to six weeks in the month of June. Manna lasted for forty years.

If this was simply a natural phenomena, how do you explain that this stuff breeds worms six days a week, but has preservatives that only on Saturdays.

How?  Very simply. God did it.

:25 Then Moses said, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.

:26 "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none."

:27 Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.


Skepticism versus belief

Some people won’t believe it until they see it.
They are told that something is going to happen, but they don’t believe it until it happens.
I understand the mind of the skeptic. There is a place for “testing” things. There will be people that will come along and tell you things and you need to put them to the test.
But there is a place in the Christian life of learning to trust the Lord.

Salvation is based on this kind of faith.

We trust that Jesus paid for our sins, even though we didn’t see Him die and we haven’t yet stood in judgment before God.

(John 20:24-29 NKJV) Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. {25} The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." {26} And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" {27} Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." {28} And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" {29} Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
You and I have that blessing of being among those who haven’t seen, but still belief.

:28 And the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?

:29 "See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."

:30 So the people rested on the seventh day.


A day off requires faith

Technically the keeping of the Sabbath was supposed to be a Jewish thing.
(Exo 31:17 NKJV)…'It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever…
But the principle still remains for us. God wants us to have a day of rest.
God promises to provide for us to take a day of rest.
He was teaching the Israelites that there would be enough manna to allow them to take a day off.
If I’m not taking a day of rest, the implication is that I don’t trust God to provide for me and my family unless I work seven days a week.

:31-36 Remembering Manna

:31 And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

like white coriander seed – an herb

the taste of it

(Num 11:8 NKJV) … its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil.

(Psa 78:25 NKJV) …Men ate angels' food; He sent them food to the full.

That’s where we get the idea of “Angel Food cake”

:32 Then Moses said, "This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: 'Fill an omer with it, to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.'"

:33 And Moses said to Aaron, "Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, 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.

Heb. 9:4 tells us that the pot of manna was kept inside the Ark of the Covenant.  It was to be a reminder of how God had provided for them in the wilderness.

pot of manna

This would be in the future, since they haven’t even built the Ark of the Covenant, let alone even gotten the tablets of the testimony from God.

A pot full of manna would be kept either before, or inside the Ark of the Covenant, as a reminder of how God had provided for them in the wilderness.

(Heb 9:4 NKJV)  …the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;

By Solomon’s day, the pot of manna had disappeared.

(2 Chr 5:10 KJV) There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.


Remember God’s provision.

Some of us have seen how God has provided wonderfully for us, even in the hardest of times.
Yet we tend to forget if we’re not careful.

:35 And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

Manna wasn’t forever. It was for a time in the wilderness when they needed God’s help. There would come a time when they would need to settle down, plant crops, and take care of themselves. For now God will provide through the miraculous.

:36 Now an omer is one-tenth of an ephah.

The True Bread from Heaven

In John 6 we have a story about Jesus and His disciples going off into a deserted place, a wilderness, where they are faced with a crowd of hungry people.

(John 6:5-6 NKJV)  Same time of year as Exodus 16 (which was a month later)

Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" {6} But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

God tested the Israelites in the wilderness. Here’s another test about hungry people.

(John 6:7-14 NKJV)  Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." {8} One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, {9} "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" {10} Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. {11} And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. {12} So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." {13} Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. {14} Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

That night Jesus and the disciples get to the other side of the lake, and the people catch up to them the next day …

(John 6:25-29 NKJV)  And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You come here?" {26} Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. {27} "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." {28} Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" {29} Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

Don’t miss this.  One of the chief lessons of bread in the wilderness is learning to believe.

The Israelites needed to believe that God was going to provide.
We need to believe that Jesus is the one that God has provided.

(John 6:30-35 NKJV)  Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? {31} "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" {32} Then Jesus said to them, "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." {34} Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." {35} And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

Manna would sustain the Israelites for forty years.  But manna was just another of those pictures in the Old Testament about Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t just sustain us for forty years, He gives us eternal life.

Will you believe in Jesus?