Bread-Picking Sinners and Faithful God

by Shawn Brasseaux

We will search the Holy Scriptures to observe how sinful man is and how faithful God is!

* * *

In Exodus chapter 16, we find the nation Israel about one month after her deliverance from Egyptian bondage (verse 1). For the past few weeks, the Jews have annoyed Moses by “murmuring” (complaining in a low tone) that the LORD has not provided water for them to drink. We read in Exodus 15:22-24 KJV:

“22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”

How great is Israel’s ungratefulness, but how great is God’s grace. He provides them with potable water:

“25 And he [Moses] cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26 And said, 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.
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.”

Notice God is “proving” Israel (verse 25), testing them, seeing whether or not she will believe Him, and whether or not she will obey Him. But, Israel is unthankful once again. Now they complain that they have no food! Exodus 16:1-3 KJV:

“1 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.

God now proceeds to “prove” (test) them again. Verse 4 says, “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.”

Besides giving them quail to eat in the evening, God promises to feed Israel by raining down manna (bread) from heaven in the morning. He then gave Israel very clear instructions about gathering that manna. Verses 5-16 say:

“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.
13 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 [“What is it?”]: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 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.”

Firstly, per day, each man was to gather “one omer” of manna for each person in his tent (verse 16). Secondly, on the sixth day, they were to gather two omers per person (verse 5), for there would be no manna given on the seventh (Sabbath) day. Verses 25 and 26: “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. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.”

What do you suppose Israel did with God’s simple instructions about picking that manna? Verse 17 explains: “And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.” Those sneaky rascals—some individuals were picking less than an omer of manna for each person, and some were picking more! Surprised? Do not be: these sons of Abraham were like us in that they were also sons of Adam. They were sinners; they did not listen to God.

God knew what they were doing, and He compensated. Miraculously, “And when they did mete [measure] 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” (verse 18). Even though they did not listen to God, He still took from those who gathered too much, and gave to those who gathered too little. But, Israel is not done sinning! Verses 19 and 20 affirm: “And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 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.”

Now, the Jews were not only ignoring God’s instructions; they were also disregarding Moses’ orders… and the camp began to stink because of it. Just imagine the putrid smell of unbelief and sin that filled God’s nostrils! Their sin smelled much worse than that molding bread!

Recall earlier that Moses told Israel, “Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none [no manna]” (verse 26). How did Israel respond? “And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none” (verse 27). How sad, now they began to break the Sabbath day!

Verse 28 says, “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye [Israel] to keep my commandments and my laws?” For the next forty years, Israel ate that manna (verse 35), constantly disobeying God throughout that period. Although Israel failed God’s test again and again, God in His mercy and longsuffering tolerated those bread-picking sinners.

Oh, the abounding mercy of God, that He holds back what we deserve! Oh, the abounding grace of God, that He freely offers what we do not deserve! Thank you LORD, for your grace and mercy!

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