Exodus 16:22-30 The spirit of Sabbath is trust in God, the provider and compassion towards others
Exodus 16:22-30 The spirit of Sabbath is trust in God, the provider and compassion towards others
Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”
It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? See, the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.
The Lord embedded in the essential structure of the provision (of manna) the concept of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is purposed to prepare the people spiritually and mentally for life in the promised land. This is necessary for the Israelites who are so used to a life of abuse and repression. The practice of the Sabbath gives them a new nature to live as heirs of God’s kingdom. Today’s devotion teaches us: The spirit of Sabbath is trust in God, the provider, and compassion towards others.
Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one.
The people went out to collect the day’s portion without being informed of the plan. But to their delight and amazement, they gathered twice the normal amount, two omers per person. Moses took occasion to instruct them concerning the Sabbath observance. God has commanded the people to set apart the Sabbath day from the rest of the weekdays as a special rest day dedicated to the worship of God. For six days, the entire nation must abstain from all work, including the gathering of bread and cooking. Hence, on the 6th day, they are to collect a double portion and cook two days’ worth of food. As they followed Moses’s instructions, indeed the manna did not spoil on the next day.
It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none.
On the seventh day (Sabbath), some people disregarded God’s instructions and went out to hunt for manna. The people’s lack of faith in God as their provider and their disobedience angered God. God, in His displeasure, asked them, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?…” The Lord’s words reflect the seriousness of their unbelief, which eventually kept them from entering the promised land.
What is the significance of the Sabbath?
Ancient Israel understood ”Sabbath rest” as synonymous with life in the promised land. What is the purpose of the Sabbath observance? It is to help the Israelites unlearn the mindset and toil they are so used to as slaves, so that they may be regenerated to live the new life as heirs in the promised land. That said, the Sabbath rest is more than just rest from toil and freedom from slavery; it is about embracing a new and divine identity as sons of God. It is regrettable that ancient Israel sees the Sabbath rest as derived from the promised land. For true rest and abundant living comes from God Himself. The psalmist describes the Sabbath rest as God’s rest: “My rest”. Jesus describes Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), the source of the Sabbath rest. Jesus says,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Those who are often weary and heavy-laden are in fact, no different from slaves. Even though they are not technically slaves, their hearts are imprisoned by fear, lust, envy and are destined for eternal destruction. They can’t rest from their work for fear of being left behind by society. God provides the Israelites with a double portion on the sixth day so that they may rest on the seventh day. And Jesus has the power to give rest to all who come to Him. That said, rest is not just freedom from the toil and oppression associated with slaves; it represents Jesus’s way of life: gentleness and humility. We obtain rest by taking on Jesus’s yoke and learning to live like Him. The apostle John describes Jesus’s way of life as the eternal life,
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” – 1 John 5:11.
In the case of the Israelites, their bodies may experience rest and freedom, but their hearts remained enslaved to sin, unfit for life in the promised land. Similarly, many Christians may be freed from poverty and sickness, but their hearts are continually imprisoned by self-centredness, lust and envy. Such have not acquired the spirit of rest synonymous with life in the kingdom of God.
The spirit of Sabbath is trust in God, the provider, and compassion towards others
The practice of Sabbath is the practice of compassion
The Jews observe the Sabbath on the sixth day, while the Christian’s Sabbath rest falls on Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection. However, the Israelites observe the Sabbath in form and not in spirit. They police and prosecute anyone who appears to be working on the Sabbath. But the true spirit of Sabbath is about the practice of compassion towards others. Obviously, the Israelites who attempted to gather more manna at the expense of others lacked compassion.
Jesus corrected the Jews who sought to prosecute His disciples for picking the grains in the field to eat, which they considered as breaking the Sabbath law. But Jesus said to them,
But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. – Matthew 12:6-7
The Jews observe the Sabbath by making animal sacrifices, but their hearts are full of darkness and selfish intents. God is not impressed by a man’s religious works (his animal sacrifices) but by his compassion towards others. We may judge ourselves by our conformance to church or Sabbath rules, but Jesus’s judgement is higher than the judgement of the temple or the church. Some go to church to conform to norms of the Christian culture, but their hearts are far away from God. They have little interest in God or how others are faring in their lives. They occasionally read the word and pray to “score” some favour with God, but have little desire to follow His directives. Some enrol themselves as musicians in the church worship team, in the ushering team and in working committees to be seen as good Christians. Such supposed by their “service” and “sacrifices” God is pleased with them. Jesus proceeds to prove His point by healing a man with a withered hand. Jesus says to those who accused Him,
So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. – Matthew 12:12-13
By healing the man, Jesus commands His disciples to observe the Sabbath by acts of compassion towards others. Therefore, believers must not judge one another by the norms and rules of religion. For God judges our hearts.
The practice of Sabbath is the practice of trust in God as the provider
In the practice of Sabbath, the Israelites look forward to life in the promised land where God is their provider. By receiving a double portion on the sixth day and resting on the seventh day, the Israelites practice their trust in God, the provider. By the time of the Gospels, Jesus teaches that the promised land or God’s kingdom is not a physical territory. For the kingdom of God resides within the hearts of believers. Jesus answers the Jews who question when Israel will be restored as a nation in the promised land,
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” – Luke 17:20-21 (NKJV)
Indeed, God’s dominion on the earth is no longer manifested through a physical nation. But through believers everywhere who are filled with the Holy Spirit (the kingdom of God is within you). And if believers seek to facilitate God’s righteous rule everywhere they go, all things will be provided for them (see Matthew 6:33).
Many churchgoers observe the Sabbath by attending church service on Sunday. But they do not seek to establish God’s rule in their family, community or at the workplace. They are caught in a rat race, trapped by the insatiable pursuit of material wealth. Some even see God as a means to fulfil their fleshly desires. But the practice of Sabbath seeks to reinforce in believers an ordered life of peace and trust in God, the provider.
Are you sensitive to the struggles of others and seek to be a comforter to them? Jesus made Himself an example for us to follow. He has never hesitated to comfort the sorrowful, provide direction to the lost, or heal those who are sick. As the Lord of the Sabbath lives in your heart, let your days be peppered with acts of compassion.
Are you always weary and heavy-laden because of the burdens of life? The Sabbath reminds us to align our hearts to God’s kingdom purpose, which is to bring salvation and righteousness into the world. Jesus says,
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. – Matthew 6:31-33
When we align our mission to God’s kingdom purposes, He will help us solve seemingly unsolvable problems and bring breakthroughs to our careers and relationships.
Dear Lord, fill me with divine love for others. Use me as your vessel to bring hope and comfort, and to heal those who are sick. I trust you as the provider of my needs, and to bring breakthroughs in all my endeavours. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.