August 26, 1992
This chapter deals extensively with murmuring. The people continue the practice which they started before they crossed the Red Sea. Things do not go as they expected, and the first thing they do is murmur.
In this murmuring, they show us human nature: the desire to be redeemed to a bed of ease with no more trials or problems. They expected redemption to take them right into the promised land with no more problems, suffering, sacrifice or work on their part. When it did not provide according to their corrupted definition, they murmur and complain. To them, salvation was salvation from difficulties. Instead, Godly salvation is salvation to a life of victory over difficulties; salvation is to faith and disciplined work under the leading of the Spirit of God. In fact, the Lord promises the redeemed difficulties and problems: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet 1:7.
Murmur-#3885 TWOT=1096 BDB=533b Evidently, Strong has given this a wrong number because both TWOT & BDB say that 3885 refers to a lodging place. Therefore, I will have to use the word Murmuring which is #8519 TWOT=1097a BDB=534a. TWOT gives the best explanation:
"Except for Josh 9:18, a reference to Israel's displeasure
with Joshua's handling of the Gibeonite lie, all occurrences of
the verb lun are to be found in the six chapters in the Pentateuch:
ex 15, 16, 17; Num 14, 16, 17, each with preposition al "against."
In each case the subject of the murmuring is all of the congregation
of Israel. Numbers 16:11, however, may refer only to Korah (cf.
16:19). The object of their verbal assaults is usually Moses and
Aaron (Ex 16:2; Num 14:2); occasionally, Moses is singled out
(Ex 15:24; 17:3; Num 14:36) or Aaron (Num 16:11); at other times
the Lord himself is the object of their abuse (Ex 16:7-8; Num
14:27, 29). In the final analysis their murmuring was always against
God who commissioned the leaders of the people. The murmuring,
of course was not without reason, namely, hunger or thirst in
the desert, or an apparently unattainable goal. But they sinned
because they doubted God and cast aspersion on his justice, goodness,
.. the verb means to express resentment, dissatisfaction, anger, and complaint by grumbling in half-muted tones of hostile opposition to God's leaders and the authority which he has invested in them.
The true nature of this murmuring is seen in the fact that if is an open act of rebellion against the Lord (Num 14:9) and a stubborn refusal to believe God's word and God's miraculous works (Num 14:11, 22, 23). Thus the right attitude in real difficulty is unconditional acceptance and obedience. God's own must never stand in judgment upon him."
Notice that "unconditional acceptance" is unconditional acceptance of the Lord's leading in our lives, not unconditional self-acceptance or acceptance of others. In other words, the only person which we can unconditionally accept is the Lord with His divine providence over all things. Murmuring is when we do not accept His providential leading and control of all things as good. We do not have to outwardly voice our displeasure; rather, murmuring is allowing displeasure with the Lord to surface and remain. We can only accept ourselves and others according to God's revealed law-word, and we must express our displeasure in these areas when they are not in accord with the word of God.
Simply put, murmuring is an expression, either quietly or openly, of displeasure over the Lord's actions in permitting one's circumstances and/or condition in life. Basically, murmuring is always against the Lord because His divine providence rules all actions on earth, Dan 4:32.
Paul clearly explains to us the answer to murmuring. In Phil. 4:6ff, he answers everything which might give cause for murmuring: pray and place it in the Lord's hands and get busy according to His divine instructions.
V. 1, Israel is now 45 days out of Egypt in the wilderness of sin. Wilderness.. This area was not a wilderness as we would think of a wilderness. It was a fertile area which permitted cattle to graze and live because Israel brought out a huge amount of livestock, and the livestock did not live on manna. The treeless condition of that area today is largely due to the Arabs' trade in charcoal which "has interfered with the growth of trees, and considerably diminished both the fertility of the valleys and the number and extent of the green oases." Furthermore, Israel's cattle furnished them with not "an insignificant supply of milk and flesh for food, and also of wool, hair, and skins for clothing." During their 40 years in the desert, the Israelites were not always wandering about, but at times may have been settled for many years with a chance to sow, plant and reap, soil permitting. "But notwithstanding all these resources, the desert was 'great and terrible' (Deut. i. 19, viii. 15); so that, even though it is no doubt the fact that the want of food is very trifling in that region, there must often have been districts to traverse, and seasons to endure, in which the natural resources were either insufficient for so numerous a people, or failed altogether." Keil, vol. II, pg. 71.
V. 2, they murmured against Moses and Aaron.
V. 3, how short a memory. We only remember the good things of our past life in bondage.
These people were more concerned about and interested in having plenty to eat than they were in freedom. They cry out to their leaders, Moses and Aaron, rather than crying out to the Lord. Bondage and slavery does have its advantages. The main advantage mentioned here is cradle to grave security. This is so typical of the folks of our generation and the upcoming generation. They appear to be willing to give up any and all freedom just so someone else will take the responsibility to feed them.
Their blindness is astounding. They are 45 days out of Egypt, 42 days from the first trial at Marah, and their faithlessness is readily apparent. Faithlessness lies just under the surface and comes forth at the slightest test. They are convinced that they are going to die, and take their unbelief out on God's men.
Vs. 4, 5. In v. 3, they complain that they have no bread in the wilderness; furthermore, they compare their present lack of bread with the plenty which they had in Egypt as slaves. In contrast to the supply of bread which their slave masters provided, the Lord says that He will rain bread from heaven for them. The Lord Jesus compared Himself with this bread from heaven which was sent to satisfy man's hunger, Jn 6:31
prove.. there is this word again. The Lord is going to see if they will obey His law or not. How? By raining bread from heaven.
1) the people will have to go out and gather it every morning. Notice that the Lord promises to supply all the bread they can eat, but they will have to work for it. They must go out and gather it every morning. We will look closer at this in v. 14.
2) they are to gather only a certain rate every day.
3) they are to gather double on the sixth day to last them over the seventh.
4) they are to prepare the extra portion for the seventh day on the sixth day.
5) they are to gather none on the seventh.
Prove.. the Lord explains in detail what is to be done concerning their food and when to do it. Will the people follow the word of the Lord in this simple matter?
V. 5, is interesting. Here we have one of the first basic understandings of the Sabbath. The Sabbath shows man's dependance upon the Lord to provide his every need. Man rests in the Lord's divine providence on the Sabbath. The man works hard through the week, then he leaves the results in the Lord's hands.
Note two points:
1) the individual is not to go unprepared into the sabbath. He is to prepare for the sabbath, then depend upon the Lord to bless that preparation.
2) it shall be... Does it shall be meant that the people shall gather twice as much on the preceding day, or does this mean that the Lord will see that it shall be twice as much?
V. 6, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out form the land of Egypt:
1) how much proof do they need that the Lord did indeed bring them out of Egypt. I suppose their love of the security of slavery was extremely difficult to overcome. In fact, they never did.
2) in the evening the Lord brought the quails. How does this tie in with knowing that the Lord brought them out of Egypt?
V. 7, And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; In the morning is when the bread from heaven appeared. Christ compared Himself to this bread, and He was the glory of the Lord. In fact, my WORLD Bible gives Isa 35:2; 40:5, & Jn 11:40 as a marg reference. These passages speak about the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses is either knowingly or unknowingly referring to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ appearing to His people.
The people murmured against Moses and Aaron in v. 2, but here the Lord says that they murmured against HIM. The result of the murmuring is that the Lord provides bread and meat for millions of people.
I think that it is extremely significant that the Lord Jesus, while He walked here among men, provided bread and meat for the multitudes which followed Him, just as He provided bread and meat here for His people who followed Him in the wilderness.
And what are we? Moses tells the people that he and Aaron are only servants of the Lord; they are only carrying out the Lord's instructions, so why are they murmuring against them. He tells the people that they are actually murmuring against the Lord, not against them.
V. 9, for the Lord hath heard.. God hears our quietest thoughts whether good or bad.
V. 10, The Lord answers the murmuring against Himself by having the whole congregation assembles. They are told to look toward the wilderness where the Glory of the Lord appears in that the cloud.
Observe that the murmuring are answered by the appearance of the glory of the Lord.
V. 11, evidently, the Lord spoke to Moses from the cloud and within hearing of all the people who had murmured.
V. 12, is an obvious contrast with their murmuring in v. 3 where they had said that their slave masters had provided them with all the bread they could eat. (Notice that they did not say that their masters had provided meat, although it does mention flesh pots.)
The Lord tells them that He will provide more and better for them than their former masters provided. He is going to show them that their worryings and murmurings are senseless, and that He is a better Master than the Egyptians were.
V. 13, the provision is quails in the evening and bread in the morning. The time is a little confusing here: Num 11 places the time of the sending of the quails as being after the giving of the law at the mount. Num 11 also tells of the contrast of the provision of Egypt with the provision of the Lord, only that time, the Lord strikes them with a terrible plague for their murmuring. (I am sure this difference will be accounted for when I check with Keil and Edersheim.)
It is sad that every time the going gets a little difficult, the people's memory is flooded with how it used to be as slaves in Egypt. God could not do anything with this people until the past was put away, and it was only put away by their death. But Christ enables us to put away the past: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, Forgetting the thing which are behind...
Without the resurrection of Christ, we would of all men be most miserable.
V. 14, The Lord rained the bread upon the ground with the dew: in the morning when the dew was gone, the bread was there. There are many naturalistic explanations for what took place, but I believe that it happened just like it says. The Lord supernaturally placed it on the ground every morning. The significant of the bread upon the ground every morning cannot be overestimated. Christ compared Himself to this bread from heaven. In fact, He said that He was the bread in the wilderness.
dew... 2919 (twot-807a), [2920, this number is used only in the book of Daniel, and is the only number used there. The reason being is that Daniel is in Aramaic, not Hebrew. Thus, the word is an Aramaic word, but the meaning is the same as the Hebrew word.] "The great differences between temperatures of night and day in Palestine causes heavy dew, which keep vegetation alive during the summer drought." God withheld dew from His disobedient people, and figuratively, dew represents God's favor upon a people.
1) Dew is a specific work of God, Job 38:28
2) The king's favor is compared to the dew, Pro 19:12
3) "for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away" the Lord said of Ephraim's degeneration into sin, Hos 6:4. Furthermore, the Lord said that Ephraim's sin would cause Ephraim to pass away as the dew, 14:5.
4) The remnant of Jacob in the midst of many people is compared to the dew from the Lord; thus, a blessing from God upon the people of the world, Micah 5:7
5) Part of God's curse against His people for ignoring His house is the withholding of dew which prohibits the earth from bringing forth fruit, Hag 1:10.
6) (Might also check Zech 8:12.)
7) Moses compares his words to the dew from heaven which brings blessings to the earth, Deut 32:2. My Bible's marg reference is to Ps 72:6: Christ coming down as rain on the mown grass.
The topology is clear: the dew which brought the bread from heaven was a type of Christ. (See Ps 105:40, bread of heaven.)
small round thing.. Maybe the size of a grain of wheat.
V. 15. Manna.. because the people did not know what it was.
Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. In Jn 6.31, 49, 58, Christ made a clear reference to Moses' manna, but He said that He was much better than the OT manna. Men ate of the manna and are dead; men eat of the new manna, Christ, and they live forever.
Cf. 1 Cor 10:3, both the manna and the rock with the water were Christ.)
Christ is the Bread from Heaven which is provided by the Father that man might live.
Vs. 16-19, a work week is established by Moses giving instructions concerning the manna. I would say that this passage is Mat 6:33ff illustrated.
1) Evidently the men of the household was to gather for his own house, v. 16.
2) according to his eating.. No work in gathering, no eating.
3) a certain measure for each person of the household, an omer (about 5.1 pints, 4 pts per 1/2 gal) person was to be gathered every morning. Say there is a minimum of 5 people per family, that was over 3 gal per family. That is a lot of manna the size of a grain of wheat)
4) Only the needed amount for that day was to be gathered, but a double amount was to be gathered the day before the sabbath, v. 5.
5) They were forbidden to try to keep it over to the next day.
First, the father of the household was the one responsible to see that his family was fed. The Lord provided all his needs, but he had to take the responsibility to see that his needs were met.
Second, this gathering of the manna was not a simple task. It had to be gathered every morning before the sun became hot because then it would melt, v. 21. This means that they had to get up at daylight and get to work because the sun would probably be hot by 9:00 AM. The manna was small; therefore, it would take quite a bit of time and effort on the people's part to gather over 1/2 gallon for each person in the household, one small grain at a time. Apparently, they had to get up early and work hard to feed their families. The Lord knows that man needs responsibilities and hard work for his own good. The Lord made them work for their food, even though He was supernaturally providing it.
Third, the amount of manna provided by the Lord would have been beyond comprehension. He was here feeding a good size group of people, perhaps 3,000,000 or so. At 1/2 gal each, that would be 1.5 million gallons of manna every morning. Hurricane Andrew went through Florida this last week and left about 250,000 homeless and without food (August 29, 1992). I watched CNN yesterday while at the Hosp with Mr. Fields, and the task of feeding that many people is overwhelming in human terms. But here for 40 years, the Lord fed better than 3,000,000 people all they could eat. I wonder how far out from camp they had to walk to get this amount of Manna. Keil says that an omer was at least 2 lbs of manna.
Fourth, daily. It forced the people to learn to depend daily upon the Lord. V. 20, we see that some did indeed try to make provision for the next day, and it bread worms, and stank. Why did they try to gather enough for several days at once? Maybe because they wanted to sleep in. But I am more inclined to think that it was because they did not trust the Lord to supply their need the next day. This is according to the Lord's words of Mat 6:33ff. Also the Lord's prayer tells us to pray for our daily bread, not for bread to last for days. We are to have a daily dependance upon Him. But daily prayer is not enough; work must be involved also.
Fifth, Christ is our bread of life. We must individually feed upon the Bread of Life daily if we expect to survive in our wilderness; His word is absolutely necessary for survival. Again, this starts with the father. He is the one responsible to see that his family is led in the way of the Lord.
Sixth, v. 18, each person had sufficient for their daily needs, but they still had to work for it. It was when they measured what they had worked hard to gather that they had enough. I think this shows us that as we do our best with what the Lord has provided, He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory, TODAY. (Even in the wilderness when things get very difficult.)
Seventh, vs. 18, 21, it was only as they gathered the manna according to what they needed that day that the Lord made it sufficient for that day. In other words, they could not stay in bed or go gather just a few grains and expect the Lord to make it go far enough. It was as they gathered what was needed for that day that the Lord blessed and prospered it.
Eighth, v. 18, the one who gathered to much only had enough to do for that day. Again we see that the Lord only promises to provide enough for the day. I think this shows us that we should be cautious about depending on what we set aside for tomorrow.
Ninth, they had to gather 6 days out of seven. With this we see that the Lord's work week is a 6 day week, not 5 or even a 32 hour week. Notice we do not hear anymore about a 32 hour week. The expense of such a foolish notion was passed on in the price of the product, so the product is now being manufactured overseas where they have 50-60 hour work weeks. God made man to work 6 days and rest one. Working less than 6 days leaves him with too much time on his hands, and gets him in trouble.
However, under the Old Testament economy, there were a great many special sabbath days of rest. They actually worked fewer days a year than a 5 day a week man does. However, there "rest" days were built around building a tight nit, national community.
Vs. 22-26, the sabbath is established.
First, typical of the sabbath year, there had to be preparation made for the sabbath. Even though rest was commanded, extra work had to be done so that man could rest. He had to work twice as hard on the sixth day to make up for the seventh. In this manner, the Lord taught responsibility and self-control to a people who were used to having everything provided for them. This generation did not learn the lesson, but the next one did.
Second, in v. 20, some tried to keep some manna overnight and it bred worms and stank. Now everyone is commanded to keep enough for the next day and it will not go bad.
Third, "It is perfectly clear from this event, that the Israelites were not acquainted with any sabbatical observance at that time, but that, whilst the way was practically opened, it was through the decalogue that it was raised into a legal institution." Thus, it was a day of rest unto the Lord, vs. 27 sqq. Keil.
Fourth, the sabbath was made for man's benefit. They were to stay every man in his place and rest. Slaves have no rest; therefore, this was no doubt new to them. It is hard to break old habits, but they can be broken.
1) The exact same action had either God's curse or God's blessing upon it. Why? One was done in disobedience; the other in obedience.
2) Keeping the extra overnight on the sixth day showed their dependance on the divine providence of God to bless their extra labor so they could rest on the sabbath. Honouring the sabbath today (the Christian Sabbath, Sunday) shows our dependance upon the divine providence of God to bless our previous weeks labor and to supply our every need.
The excuse I hear so much for people working on Sunday is that they cannot make ends meet otherwise. They need to cut back their expectations and life style and maybe they need to get another god to serve, ie. the Lord God. The Lord can and will supply every need of His faithful people, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
3) The sabbath is uniquely Christian. Without the Christian faith, the sabbath is ignored even though it is required for man's benefit. I think that RRD is a bad example of this fact: from what I understand, as long as the Donnley family controlled the company, RRD respected the family and honoured the sabbath. They did not work on Sundays unless it was an emergency. Now that the bottom line is the standard for judging all things, Sunday work is next to required. As the Christian base of society is departing, so is the honour of Sunday as a day of rest. It is easy to recognize the rise of paganism; watch the sabbath.
Vs. 27-29, the sabbath is confirmed.
First, some went out and searched for manna on the sabbath anyway. Of course, they found nothing because the Lord had provided nothing. I think that here we have an understanding that it is not the Lord that provides when one works on the "Sabbath."
Second, the Lord rebukes them for not obeying His commandments and laws. The ten commandments were not yet written down, but He had already said what was expected of them. The sabbath would, I suppose, speak the clearest of dependance upon the divine providence of God to supply all our needs.
Third, the people rested on the seventh day. Not necessarily because they wanted to, but because the Lord insisted that they rest.
1) The Lord instructs that an omer of manna be laid up for coming generations to see as a testimony of the Lord's supernatural care for His people. (They wouldn't believe it without seeing it? More than likely, this would make the people more accountable before the Lord because they had the proof right before them of the Lord's supernatural care.)
2) When the people tried to keep the manna overnight, it bred worms and stank; when they kept it overnight for the sabbath, it kept fine; now it is to be kept for generations to come. The thing that impresses me is that the Lord takes care of the most minute detail of everything. My mind is overwhelmed at how the Lord even watches out for a pot of manna because it stayed fresh only by His continual care. But, of course, this is what the Lord said while He was here: not a sparrow falls without His knowledge. I have enough problem keeping track of one thing, and here the Lord keeps track of every hair on every person's head.
3) before the Testimony.. The law was not given yet, so what was this testimony?
4) They ate manna until they came to the borders of Canaan, then the manna ceased. This sure would force them to go into the land. The Lord has a way of placing us in a corner where we must "do or die."
Actually, Joshua 5:11, 12 tells us that the manna stopped the morning after they ate of the old corn of the land of Canaan. The manna stayed with them until they were in the land and celebrated the passover with the old crops of its inhabitants. ("the manna ceased, and when they kept the Passover after crossing the Jordan, and ate of the produce of the land of Canaan on the day after the Passover." Keil.)
5) Of course, the significant thing here, which we will cover latter, is that the Lord supplied all their needs even though they were wandering in the wilderness in unbelief. No matter where we look in God's word, we see this fact: the Lord takes care of His own in spite of themselves, more often than not. Therefore, one cannot look upon supernatural provision by the Lord as conformation that they are in the perfect will of God. Only His word will confirm their relationship with Him.
I know of many instances where folks are obviously contrary to the revealed will of God, yet the Lord is openly supplying all their needs for every one to see.
Furthermore, I think that this experience with the manna tells us that God can supply supernaturally for His people when there is no natural means of supply.
Gleanings from other sources:
There was and is a natural manna in this wilderness, but it was not what the Lord fed His people with. "We are in the wilderness, yet not of the wilderness; our provision is like the wilderness food, yet not the wilderness manna; but, above all, it is sent us directly from God." Edersheim.
"Even the 'daily bread' by which our bodies are sustained, and for which we are taught to pray, is, as it were, manna sent us directly from heaven. Yet our provision looks to superficial observers as in so many respects like the ordinary manna, that they are apt to mistake it, and that even we ourselves in our unbelief too often forget the daily dispensation of our bread from heaven." Edersheim.
"There is yet another point in which the miraculous provision of the manna, continued to Israel during all the forty years of their wilderness-journey, resembles what God's provision to us is intended to be." Edersheim.
"There are many people who sing with great expression and fervour when everything is going just as they want it to go. Their song is full of emptiness; it is a vain speech and a profanation of music." Parker.
"Observe how the most astounding miracles go for nothing. Then the miracles were nothing to those who observed them. They were applauded at the time, they sent a little thrill through those who looked upon them with eyes more or less vacant and meaningless; but as to solid result, educational virtue and excellence, the miracles might as well not have been wrought at all. It was the same in the days of Jesus Christ. All his miracles went for nothing amongst many of the people who observed them. A miracle is a wonder, and a wonder cannot be permanent. Wonders soon drop into commonplaces, and that which astounded at first lulls at last,-yea, that which excited a kind of groping faith may by repetition soon come to excite doubt and skepticism and fear. What wonder, then, if the miracles having thus gone down in importance and value, the most splendid personal services followed in their wake? This is a necessary logic; this is a sequence that cannot be broken." Parker
Observe what an effect long servitude had produced upon the children of Israel.. The man can be driven out of the man; the man can be debased in to almost a beast of burden.. Servitude has done this in every country; and we cannot expect people who have been for generations in bondage to stand up and claim intellectual equality with men who have been living under the sun of freedom century after century.. The eternal form of the lesson is this:-that servitude to sin takes the pith out of manhood. A man cannot be both a bad man and a strong man.." Parker
"The man of science tells us that when we lift a hand we send a motion to the stars. Having heard that statement we account it grand, because it is the statement of one to the exact sciences... When the moral seer tells us that our whining is not against man but against God, we call him a 'fanatic'! The ways of man are not equal. He who is amazed , because he is given to understand that the lifting of his hand sends a shudder to the stars, listens with unbelief to the statement that a lie grieves the Spirit of God, -a sin of any name wounds the peace of Heaven." Parker
"God knows how far he himself is responsible for our circumstances, and up to that degree he is faithful. He will find a solution to all difficulties how tangled and obstinate soever.. If we ourselves have gone into the desert without his permission or consent, we may be allowed to die there, and to remain without a grave in the sand in which we vainly thought to find a heaven: but if we have obeyed the Divine voice, and gone in the providential way, whatever there is on the road-Marah, or place of sand, or great river, or greater sea-God will find a way through all. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Parker
"God is repeating the manna miracle every day. All food comes from above. You mistake, if you think you find your own food otherwhere than from heaven." Parker
Concluding thought: See John 6
Joseph Parker also gives some thoughts on the Moses in the Wilderness:
"First. Processes try men's tempers. See how the temper
of Israel was tried in the wilderness!..
Second. The trials of precesses are to be met not all at once, but a day at a time...
Third. Processes show the different dispositions of men... Provision must be made for madmen...
Fourth. All the processes of life should be hallowed by religious exercises... (1) The Sabbath is more than a mere law; it is an expression of mercy. (2) No man ever loses anything by keeping the Sabbath: 'The Lord giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days.' (3) He is the loser who has no day of rest...
Fifth. Processes should leave some tender and hope-inspiring memories behind them...
Sixth. The process will end..." JP.