Exodus 16:1-12 We must always look to God for endorsement, not to people
Exodus 16:1-12 We must always look to God for endorsement, not to people
Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
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 day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”
6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, for He hears your grumblings against the Lord; and what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.’” 10 It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons 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 grumblings of the sons 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.’”
When the Israelites came to the wilderness of Sin they missed the meat and bread back in Egypt. They grumbled against Moses by accusing him for bringing them into the desert to kill them. They did this as a pretext to coerce him into giving them what they want. When pushed to a corner, Moses did not respond in kind but looked to God for divine support and endorsement. Knowing the Israelites have been enslaved all their life, Moses treated them with patience and grace. God showed Himself as gracious by gently rebuking the people for their grumblings and at the same time honoured their requests. Today’s devotion teaches us: We must always look to God for endorsement, not to people.
Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin.
The people grumbled against Moses
God led Israel through the wilderness in phases. The wilderness comprises various challenges purposed to test the people’s hearts and to sanctify them. Here at the wilderness of sin, the people grumbled against Moses not out of genuine need as observed in 15:22 and 17:1. Israel was not at the point of starving to death. For they were desiring the “pots of meat” in Egypt and “bread to the full”. They audaciously accused Moses of deliberately leading the nation out into the wilderness to die. The people’s complaint was not a natural reaction to difficult circumstances. For they were overcome by fleshly desires and determined to manipulate and coerce Moses into giving them what they want. Numbers 11:4 and Psalm 78:30 give explicit accounts condemning the people’s cravings as unacceptable. Acts 7:39 speaks of them as seeking to return to the bondage of Egypt.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.
God responds to the people’s grumbling and accusation
God’s seeming disregard for the people’s grumbling and craving for meat contrasted with Moses and Aaron’s passionate reaction. Even though the people’s words were thankless and cutting, God judges their obedience to His commandments more than their words. And He has no qualms about giving meat and bread for the people to enjoy. His only demand is for the people to obey His instructions: to gather not more than a day’s portion every day and to keep the Sabbath rest.
So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, for He hears your grumblings against the Lord; and what are we, that you grumble against us?”
Moses responds to the people’s accusation
Here, Moses and Aaron issued a direct response to the people’s complaints and accusations. First, Moses asserted that he did not harbour ill intent to kill them, for they will soon experience God’s goodness and it is He who delivered them out of Egypt and into the wilderness. Second, the people’s murmuring against Moses was in fact a veiled attempt to manipulate God into giving in to their demands. Moses exposed their unbelief by stripping away the pretence, “Why come against us? Your fight is with God!”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.’”
God appears to end all disputes
Moses gathered the congregation to see the divine manifestation of God. For God Himself would appear to bring an end to all disputes with a decisive judgement. Although God acknowledged their longing for meat and bread, their behaviour was nevertheless still considered as “grumbling”. It is remarkable that God vindicated Moses and Aaron and in the same breathe honoured the people’s requests. God meets their requests not to legitimise their behaviour and desires but to show Himself as the gracious LORD your God while giving them time to change.
We must always look to God for endorsement, not to people
For all that Moses had done for the people, the way they treated him was not only unthankful, they were cutting, undeserving of kind treatment. Only a month and a half ago, they were just slaves having no rights. Now they were making overt demands expecting the journey to be a walk in the park. Moses did not respond in kind but looked to God for divine support and endorsement. God openly endorsed Moses, and gently rebuked the people for their grumblings while honouring their requests. While many look to people for endorsement, we look to God for divine support and endorsement. Without God’s open endorsement, we cannot bring change to the world. Ultimately, people must come to recognise that we are sent by God and carry His mandate to establish His rule on earth.
Why did the Israelites behave in an impetuous way?
The Israelites, having been enslaved for 400 years did not understand human dignity and the concept of free will. Hence, they could not treat others with dignity or learn to respect the decisions of others. All their lives they have been treated unjustly by the Egyptians, the only authority they knew. Hence, they have grown to distrust authorities even Moses or God for that matter. And they see the law not as a device of justice but of injustice. Because slaves have no personal rights, they have no concept of ownership or possession. Hence, they fear losing everything they have and seek to secure what they could for the moment. Because slaves are treated harshly and the slightest mistake incur immediate retribution, they have no concept of grace or forgiveness. That said, slaves have learned to yield their bodies but not their will to authorities. They were accustomed to a feigned display of compliance in exchange for reprieve.
Humanity is enslaved by sin and death
Humanity, like the Israelites have been be enslaved. Ever since the fall of Adam, humanity is hopelessly imprisoned by the sin of lust, greed, violence, unfaithfulness, and heading towards eternal death. Thus, humanity carry the characteristics of slaves. Although their bodies are free, their hearts are filled with violence, manipulating and killing one another. Only when man comes to Jesus, can he obtain grace and be freed from the prison of sin and death. The church is sent with divine endorsement to free humanity from the prison of sin and death.
We must continually look to God for divine endorsement
We, by our own ability and authority can never free another person from prison. Many lack divine endorsement, not only were they ineffective, they were hurt by the very people they try to help. But when we are endorsed by God, God protects us from hurt, and the world will come to acknowledge us as prophets sent from heaven. One who seeks divine endorsement obtains divine authority to speak and act on behalf of God. That said, a majority of full time ministers seek endorsement from the organisation they serve. Such may be well liked by people, but they could not bring about true change and revival. They may be effective in administering the functions of the church, organisation or company, but could not inspire supernatural faith and the fear of God among people. If we want to be effective in changing the world, we must above all seek divine endorsement.
How should we deal with people in general?
As followers of Christ, we must not respond in kind when dealing with impetuous or abusive people. But by your patience and wisdom…
- help them regain their dignity by giving them space to make their own decisions, and to treat them with gentle respect.
- help them regain their trust in authority and the law by being fair and just.
- help them regain the sense of their person rights by being generous with things while giving them freedom to do as they please with what they possessed,
- help them experience God’s grace by giving them space to make mistakes,
- help them understand the necessity for law and order by being consistent in rewarding and disciplining them in accordance to their actions.
- help them regain their trust and transparency by being genuinely concerned for their wellbeing and doing all things out of goodwill.
How should we seek divine endorsement?
Whether you are a member, leader, or a full time minister, do the following:
- When making important decisions, above all seek to understand God’s will as opposed to your opinions or those of others.
- When reading the bible, let the word speak for itself. Be confident that you alone are fully capable of hearing what the Spirit is saying.
- Do not be afraid to break out of existing establishments to pursue God’s calling for you. For God’s endorsement is far greater than men’s endorsement.
- Converse with God daily concerning your day’s work. Seek His opinion above the opinions of men.
- Do not compromise God’s directives for you, but depend on God to vindicate you in His way and time.
Dear Lord, speak to me, reveal yourself to me so that I may obey and be approved by you. I seek your approval above the approval of men. Empower me with your wisdom and courage so that I may help establish your righteous rule on earth. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.