Before we go to our next passage (Exodus 16), here are a few events to remember. In type and picture:
Before Exodus 15 – Salvation & Baptism
- The last plague (Passover) and Deliverance from Egypt represents our salvation where blood is shed to redeem us from this world
- Egypt represents to us the slavery to sin under the rule of the Enemy of God (Satan). In type and picture, Egypt contains all the things of “this world” that can keep us away from God.
- Crossing the Red Sea represents our baptism experiencing the death and resurrection of Christ including the very real defeat of the Enemy of God through the symbolic act of baptism.
Exodus 15 – Healing & Strengthening
- The Song of Moses and celebration of Miriam represent a kind of “honeymoon” period after our salvation.
- The bitter waters of Marah represent the things in us that need healing from our past experiences in the world. God establishes that listening to His voice and following the leading of His voice.
- The time at Elim represents the strengthening we need for our journey ahead in the wilderness.
As we review this critical portion of Scripture starting in Exodus 15 and going to at least Exodus 17, it is important to notice something about how God is interacting with the children of Israel. There aren’t any bad consequences for their grumbling and complaining. As you read further on in Exodus, you will begin to see that there are consequences for their various bad behaviors, but not in this section of Scripture (Exodus 15-17).
It is not until Exodus 19 that the children of Israel enter into a two-way covenant relationship with God. God presents them an offer and they accept it. See Exodus 19:3-8. Before Exodus 19, their standing is different. The relationship is completely covered by God and His provision.
From the time that God moves to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt (our Salvation by the blood of Christ) until Exodus 19 (Mount Sinai) the modus operandi (i.e. mode of operation) of God is “under the blood, without law”. In the face of any complaint or issue there is only an outpouring of God’s supply combined with His instruction to prepare and equip the children of Israel for their time of wandering in the wilderness. God wants them to walk properly, but the response to their mistakes is ongoing provision and instruction.
Where is our Food!?!
The children of Israel were well watered and strengthened by the Lord for the journey ahead, but now the complaint is for food. They want to know the source of their ongoing sustenance.
2 And all the community of the Israelites grumbled against Moses and against Aaron in the desert. 3 And the Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread until we were full, because you have brought us out to this desert to kill all of this assembly with hunger.”Exodus 16:2-3 (LEB)
The Israelites came out of Egypt with many animals. Additionally, they had only been on this side of the Red Sea for one month. They were not at a point of starvation, but they were concerned about what they would eat in this desert area. God knows their need and has planned in advance for it.
God explains His plan to use this matter of provision of food to test or prove the children of Israel and whether they will walk with Him according to His law (i.e. in the “right way”). The word in Hebrew for “law” used here is torah. The torah is the combined essence of all of God’s commandments, statutes, and regulations. It is the whole law which God will use to test/prove them. This is their second test after the Red Sea. (See Exodus 15:25 for the first test). This test is ongoing and it is setup before they have actually received the law (torah) from God. It is a daily test from the time that it started until they finish their journey through the wilderness and reach Gilgal (their first location after crossing into the promised land).
4 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Look, I am going to rain down for you bread from the heavens, and the people will go out and gather enough for the day on its day; in that way I will test them: Will they go according to my law or not? 5 And then on the sixth day, they will prepare what they bring, and it will be twice over what they will gather every other day.”Exodus 16:4-5 (LEB)
At this point, God makes it clear that He will provide their nourishment. The children of Israel are being given physical nourishment, but in type and picture it is spiritual food. The spiritual food is the manna (i.e. “bread from heaven”). This is confirmed in the New Testament by both Jesus (John 6:48-51) and Paul (1 Cor 10:3).
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that someone may eat from it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”John 6:48–51 (LEB)
Healthy Food, Served Fresh Daily
God instructs to gather the “bread of heaven” each day. God does not deliver it into their tents, but they must go out and collect it.
16 This is the word that Yahweh commanded, ‘Gather from it, each according to what he can eat, an omer per person according to the number of you. You each shall take enough for whoever is in his tent.’ ” 17 And the Israelites did so, and they gathered, some more and some less. 18 And when they measured with the omer, the one gathering more had no surplus, and the one gathering less had no lack; they gathered each according to what he could eat.Exodus 16:16-18 (LEB)
It is collected by tent which I believe is a picture of a household (a family). Each day there is enough supply for each family to collect and eat. I believe there are several important pictures here, but I will only highlight one of them based on part of the Lord’s prayer — “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Each household is to gather the manna for each day. The “bread from heaven” that is supplied is sufficient for each day.
We must learn to recognize the “bread from heaven” given to us each day. We have to learn how to listen closely to the voice of the Lord each day to receive the “bread from heaven”. In my experience, it has come in the form of the still small voice of the Lord reminding me of a portion of Scripture (a few key words or book and/or chapter). I then go look it up and read through the passage prayerfully asking the Lord to reveal to me what He has for me that day. When I am faithful to collect the bread that is given, He is faithful to provide nourishment for that day. It’s fresh. It’s healthy. It’s served each day, but I admit that I have failed many times in this matter.
Start Your Day Right, No Leftovers Please
19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some people left some of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 And they gathered it morning by morning, each according to what he could eat, and it melted when the sun was hot.Exodus 16:19-21 (LEB)
There are a few mistakes we are shown here to help reinforce our understanding. God speaks fresh each day. He wants us to start the day right (gather it in the morning before the sun melts it away). He does not want us to hold on to yesterday’s bread. This means we aren’t to manage the provision of “bread from heaven”. He is in control of the “bread from heaven” each day and we are to be dependent upon His supply each day.
This is different than how some Christians operate. They have their reading plan and they are in control of the process of partaking of God’s word. There is nothing wrong with a scheduled and regular partaking of the Word of God (in written form), but we must remember that the rhema (spoken word from the Lord) is served to us by the Lord. We don’t control what He will speak. We only have control over whether we will “gather” it. Will we listen for His daily food for us? Will we ask for it? It may come through reading the Word of God (in written form), but I propose that we should make sure to ask, listen and hear Him.
In type and picture, we can see that God is relating to the children of Israel just like He relates to us. The blood of Christ is applied. In spiritual reality, we are delivered out from under the influence of the world and sin. We are baptized into Him. We are given His voice and through our obedience we are healed and strengthened. Then we are given a daily supply of nourishment (“bread from heaven”) administered by God. He gives all of these things apart from the law. The blood has been applied and we are saved, but the law has not been given or received. Rather, there is just interaction between God and the children of Israel (i.e. pictures of us) under the blood (i.e. the blood of Christ).
What I have shared here may be different from what you do on a daily basis. Some don’t partake anything on a daily basis. Others do partake regularly, but the way it is done needs to be healthy. In our world today, it is easy to come into a relationship that operates in more of a Greek way as described by Paul. In the Greek way, we study and learn concepts in our mind. Having understood these concepts we work to apply them according to our abilities. This can turn out to be the way of the tree of knowledge of good and evil where we become “like gods knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). This is a strong thing to say. It is said to encourage some thought on this matter and not as a matter of judgment.
God’s way is not the Greek way. This does not mean that God wants us to remain ignorant. He wants to lead us into all truth, but in a way of relating to Him properly. This isn’t a mental or conceptual exercise. This happens through a conversation between us and the Lord. Through this conversation, the Lord reveals things to us. The Lord knows us. If we will hear his voice and follow Him then we will have a very different experience by following Him the “right way”. (See John 10:27-28)
True and valid rhema (spoken word) of God will always match the written Word of God, but it is very important to remember that the rhema came first. Before the Bible existed, God was speaking. Before the Bible existed, God was relating to men. God utters His Word to each of us for each day. This is His plan and approach. This is His way. We need the written Word of God to be in our minds because it is the very language that God has chosen to speak through. It is a spiritual language which contains spiritual truth and reality, but the basis of walking the “right way” is hearing His voice and receiving His supply of nourishment on a daily basis.
I will close with a bold statement which is intended primarily provoke some thought. This statement is backed up by the rest of Exodus 16 where the children of Israel did not apply God’s instruction for how to gather and eat the manna. We can forsake the Lord in favor of the written Word of God when we partake of the Word of God in the “wrong way”. We can partake of the knowledge of God in our own way. It is clear from this passage that we are to partake from what is served to us on a daily basis according to the speaking (i.e. voice) of the Lord. In order to walk in the “right way”, we have need to partake of the “bread from heaven” in the “right way”.
Lord, you are the Good Shepherd. Please help me to lay hold of the reality of your words in the book of John. “My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. “ (John 10:27) Help me to return to you. Help me to return to listening to you on a daily basis. Please provide the nourishment I need on a daily basis and give me the discipline and encouragement to collect the portion you have for me and my house each day. Please forgive me for any of the ways that I have partaken of your Word in the wrong way. Please lead me into the right way to walk with you.
— A. Laymans prayer