Exodus 16:13-21 The way of the kingdom is to trust God daily for our needs and be ever gracious toward others

Exodus 16:13-21 The way of the kingdom is to trust God daily for our needs and be ever gracious toward others

So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons 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, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’” The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.

Background

Following the people’s complaints, God graciously supplied the bread and the meat. It is also here that God tested the people and found them unworthy of the promised land. By gathering more than they need, they showed themselves as selfish. By leaving some of the food to the next day, they showed themselves as distrusting of God as their provider. Even though the people are freed from slavery, their hearts remained enslaved to selfishness and unbelief. As we know it, the entire generation consumed manna for 40 years while their corpses laid in the wilderness. Today’s devotion teaches us: The way of the kingdom is to trust God daily for our needs and be ever gracious toward others.

Observation

S it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.

The Lord fulfilled His promise of food: the quail came in the evening and in the morning, the manna lay around the camp. Yet the ensuing text in the larger context seem to indicate that only the manna is the continuing gift. In Numbers 11, while en route from Sinai to Kadesh, the people were not contented with manna, in desiring to eat meat they rose up against Moses (see Numbers 11:9-13). Elsewhere in the Old Testament describes the dew as falling from heaven and the manna came with it (see Numbers 11:9). The text describes manna as a “flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.” When the people saw it, their immediate reaction was, “What?” (“man” in Hebrew). Hence, the name “manna” or “What thingy”. Moses addressed the people’s confusion by pointing to the “manna” as God’s gift of bread.

This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’”

Moses proceeds to instruct as to how the people should gather the manna. Every man commissioned by his household is to gather what a person should consume in a day according to the size of his household, which is, “an omer apiece”. When the men went out to collect the manna, the distribution is unequal as some collected more than the stipulated amount. But when each individual’s portion was measured, the household who thought they had gathered much found they had no excess. Similarly, the household who had gathered little found that they had no lack. For God supernaturally ensured that every man gathered as much as he should eat. That said, some disobeyed by not consuming the full portion for the day but kept some for the next day. The next morning, it decayed, bred worms and stank. Moses’s anger shows the people’s disobedience as no small thing. For it reveals the people’s selfishness and basic distrust for God and hence their unworthiness to enter the promised land.

Truth

The way of the kingdom is to trust God daily for our needs and be ever gracious toward others

The manner in which the people gathered the manna showed their selfishness and utter distrust towards God. Firstly, they are commanded not to gather more than what the household required (an omer for each member). The fact that some gathered more at the expense of those who gathered less showed their crass disregard for the wellbeing of others. Secondly, they are to fully consume the current day’s portion and not leave any to the next day. By leaving a portion to the next day showed their unbelief towards God as their provider. Such selfishness and unbelief are characteristics typical of slaves. No doubt, the Israelites were delivered from Egypt and were freemen, but their hearts remained enslaved. As we know it, the entire generation consumed manna for 40 years while their corpses laid in the wilderness. This serves as a testimony to their selfishness and unbelief. How could a people of selfishness and unbelief inherit the land of selflessness and faith! Their desires run contrary to the ways of the kingdom! Indeed, the promised land is a place for sons, not for slaves.

The condition of today’s churches

Like the Israelites, many in today’s churches having been delivered from sickness and poverty remained in the wilderness. For they are unwilling to follow in the ways of the kingdom. They may be freed from the curses of poverty and sickness, but their hearts remained enslaved by the god of this world. They profess to believe in Jesus, but they sell their souls to corporations in exchange for more money, and hence bigger cars, houses and more exotic holidays. In fact, many secretly loathe Christ’s return. They hope against hope to be freed from hell to live in this world forever. These churches “convert” many unbelievers making them worse than before. They used to be mindful and conscientious of how they live fearing the eternal consequences that may ensue. Now, they are told not to fear, for Christ has exonerated them from all punishment. It is regrettable these so called Christians dishonour God by making a practice of sin while peddling Christ’s forgiveness everywhere they go. In selfishness, they climb the corporate ladder by oppressing their weaker colleagues. In unbelief, they secure an excessive amount of remuneration for themselves at the expense of their fellow colleagues. In deceit, they scheme against their clients who trust them with their wealth. Because they love themselves above all, they hoard money and live exorbitantly not sparing a thought for the needy. Such churches and their followers will no doubt go down into the outer darkness.

The kingdom of Christ in the New Covenant

Ancient Israel is the Old Covenant model of God’s kingdom. God made a covenant with Abraham to save and rule the world through the dominion of ancient Israel. Because of the weakness inherent in the Old Covenant, God instituted the New Covenant to save and rule the world. This time, not through ancient Israel, but through the dominion of Christ. The dominion of Christ differs from ancient Israel as it is unconstrained by the physical boundaries of an earthly kingdom. The followers of Christ comprise people of all nations asserting Christ’s rule in wherever they are planted. Today, Christ is actively gathering His followers and baptising them with His Spirit of the New Covenant. Jesus told His disciples who left all things to follow Him,

“Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” – Matthew 19:28-29

In light of Christ’s eternal kingdom, let us put the agenda of the kingdom before our own. And learn to live by His grace one day at a time. In so doing, we may enter His kingdom and rule with Him.

Application

Do you possess an instinct to look out for the wellbeing of others? Make it a personal or family project to contribute to the needy through a church or charity organisation. The amount does not matter but the motive of the heart does. Children will see the charitable ways of adults and grow to become selfless adults themselves.

Do you depend on God’s portion of grace on a daily basis? Or do you depend on your bank account? Those who depend on their hoard of wealth will suddenly find their personal health in short supply. Indeed, wealth can be gathered, but health cannot. And Jesus will supply all things (health and wealth) needed for abundant living in the kingdom. Trust God to supply on a daily basis and be kind to others. Jesus said,

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:31-34

Dear Lord, change my heart and cause me to be sensitive to the needs of others. Sensitize my heart towards the suffering of others so that I may feel with them. Concerning my physical and emotional needs, I will not worry but will seek your directives and obey them on a daily basis. Speak to me and cause me to discover the many ways to converse with you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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