Exodus 16:31-36 Only those who respond to God’s love by obeying Him will be saved

Exodus 16:31-36 Only those who respond to God’s love by obeying Him will be saved

The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey. Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept. The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (Now an omer is a tenth of an ephah.)

Background

The provision of manna speaks of God’s unfailing love. By preserving a portion of manna in a jar, future generations may see and understand why despite God’s kindness, their forefathers fail to enter the promised land. Truly, only those who respond to God’s love by obeying Him will enter in. The manna reminds all believers that unless our hearts are transformed to love God and others, we cannot be saved. Today’s devotion teaches: Only those who respond to God’s love by obeying Him will be saved.

Observation

Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness…

God told Moses to keep an omer of manna in a jar so that future generations may see what God has done for them throughout their days in the wilderness. The jar of manna will eventually be placed alongside with the Testimony (the two tablets of the Law) before the Lord, which is in the ark of the covenant.

God continued to provide manna for forty years until they came to Gilgal, at the border of the promised land. And as soon as the people are able to provide for themselves by cultivating the land, the supply of manna stopped (see Joshua 5:12). The manna testifies of God’s mercy in sustaining the people despite their unbelief. The manna also speaks of God’s righteous judgment against those who do not respond to God’s love through faith. It became evident that even as all fed on the same heavenly bread, only the ones who responded in love for God and for others made it into the promised land.

Truth

Only those who respond to God’s love by obeying Him will be saved.

The manna in a jar served as a warning for all believers

The manna that is preserved in a jar serves as a warning sign to all believers. They would see and understand why despite God’s loving provisions, their forefathers still cannot make it into the promised land. And it has become evident that the generation that died in the wilderness do not live by the principle of love. The manna that came daily for forty years would have helped them recognise God’s love and be transformed to love Him and obey His law. Instead, they became increasingly selfish and violent. Consequently, they were barred from entering the promised land. The Jews in the days of the Gospels were no different. Having eaten of the bread that Jesus multiplied, they tried to take Jesus by force to make Him king (see John 6:15).

God’s love requires a response of faith and obedience

Therefore, the manna in a jar carries an explicit message: Only those who respond to God’s love by faith will be saved. Like the Israelites, many in today’s churches do not respond to God’s love to love Him in return. They love themselves above all and their goal is predominately to obtain blessings and salvation. They will not give of themselves sacrificially and would first attach a personal benefit. For example, they must see the promise of greater financial return before they make an offering. Many false ministers dangle a false promise by quoting from Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over…”. But the spirit of the above promise is love and mercy, not self-gain. Jesus laid down the premise in the preceding verses (35 to 37),

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.”

Faith is serving out of love and goodwill

Therefore, God takes pleasure in one who gives and serves out of goodwill expecting nothing in return. And He takes no pleasure in one who has ulterior motives. Many claim to read the bible and pray consistently, but their prayers mostly concern their personal success and wellbeing. They attend weekly worship services but have little interest in what others are going through. Even if they do serve, they want to be recognised for their work.

We observe churches and charity organisations contribute to the feeding programme for impoverished kids. But they refuse to contribute towards their education which is the key to lift them out of poverty. This is great hypocrisy! In wanting to look good, this organisations need the children to keep coming so that they may continue to function as backdrops to their “charitable” schemes. Apostle Paul said emphatically,

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

A charitable service done out of selfish intent is an abomination to God. The Israelites observe the Law solely for the purpose of obtaining God’s favour for themselves. Because they do not have love, the Law has become a curse to them. Therefore, we must above all be mindful of our hearts’ posture. God does not care how much we know, or how much we have done. For He desires works that are borne out of true compassion no matter how insignificant they may seem to be.

Application

Are you moulded by religious norms such that you have become apathetic to the needs of people? When people come to you with needs, do not just pray for them. But provide practical assistance to tie them through their difficulties (see James 2:15-16).

Do you practice personal favouritism by judging people according to their appearances (see James 2:2-3)? We must treat everyone at the same level regardless of their social, religious or moral background.

Are you accustomed to calculating your returns when you consider helping another? Go out of your way to look out for the needy, especially those who cannot give you anything in return.

Do you pride yourself on your achievements and your standing in the church community? God does not care about these things. Instead, take pride in your inner beauty and your sensitivity to the needs of others.

Dear Lord, reveal to me the hidden things of my heart so that I may see and repent. Take away my tendency towards self-righteousness. I want to see you and experience your love and holiness. In that way, I may become a conduit of divine love to the world. Strip off the veneer of religion and hypocrisy so that I can be real before God and others. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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