Greetings in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:5-7)
The Israelites suffered by being enslaved by Egyptians and cried out to God. God heard their cry, sent Moses, and brought them out of Egypt. God is gracious and full of mercy.
Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, changed his mind and pursued the Israelites with his finest army with the best chariots, horses, swords, and spears. The Israelites got trapped between the Pharaoh’s finest army and the Red Sea. The Israelites saw the Pharaoh’s army and blamed God while telling
“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” (Exodus 15:11b-12)
But God calmed the people through Moses and opened a passage through the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk through the Red Sea. But God buried the Pharaoh’s army under the Red Sea by returning the water as they entered deep into the Red Sea following the Israelites. The Israelites eyewitnessed God’s hand and His love and mercy. They praised God by singing and dancing.
Indeed God saved them despite their complaint to God. Although they were not faithful to God, God was faithful to them with his love and mercy.
Then they moved into the land, but soon they encountered a desert. They walked through the desert for three days under the hot sun, and they all used up the water brought with them. They were extremely thirsty, and some of them fainted. A big complaint broke out, and they blamed God for taking them out of Egypt and making them die in the desert with their children and livestock. Again, despite their complaint, God provided water for them.
However, the water was too bitter to drink to their taste. They complained about the taste of the water. But God was patient and turned the water sweet to satisfy their taste. God answered all their complaints with love, patience, and mercy. Is there any other god tolerating complaints and blames? Our God is uniquely different. It is why we say Our God is love. Yes, our God is patient, longsuffering, and full of mercy.
Then they left the place and called it Marah, which means bitter. After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water. God gave plenty of water, and all enjoyed and were fully satisfied.
The whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt. There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.
“If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (Exodus 16:3)
God again patiently heard their complaint and provided again without punishing them. Then God told Moses,
“Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.” (Exodus 16:4b-5)
That evening, vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other and called manna because they had no idea what it was.
So the Israelites went out and gathered what God provided. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. Yes, it is what God does, but people are greedy, not caring others, and gather more than others. However, at the end of the day, God provided what the Israelites needed. The Israelites could not have more than what God provided. It was the truth that God wanted the Israelites to understand by experiencing God. And we also should not forget this truth.
Then God warned them through Moses, “Do not keep any of it until morning,” because God provided them daily as God prepared. But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then, it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell.
How many times have we experienced this? We collect and accumulate earthly things excessively for ourselves, but later we find what we have zealously collected and accumulated becomes useless. Here is God’s message: not to be overly zealous about earthly things and excessively gather them for the future. After all, our future is in God’s hand, and God dearly loves us as His beloved children.
After this, the people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need. And as the sun became hot, the flakes they had not picked up melted and disappeared. After the manna served God’s purpose, there was no more reason why manna stayed to be picked up. The Israelites had to work hard to collect the manna for the day in the morning. Then God took away as the sun became hot.
The opportunity that God has provided does not stay forever. As the set time comes, the opportunity goes away, which will no longer be with us. Thus, we have to work hard for God when an opportunity is with us that God sends to us.
On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual—four quarts for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation. He told them, “This is what the LORD commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the LORD. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.”
God taught them about faith in God through Moses and by using the food rained down from heaven.
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith is real for what we hope, although we don’t see and touch it. The Israelites had to gather food every morning for the day regardless they collected more or less the previous day. And the manna gathered was perfect for their family for the day. What a blessing! Then they faithfully followed God’s instruction – go out and gather manna in the morning for each day as God provided.
Then as a holy Sabbath day was coming, Moses instructed to collect twice for the Sabbath.
By that time, they tried, experienced, and knew they should not collect more than the one-day worth of manna. If they set aside manna, then that portion got spoiled. But, they had to believe what God said and did differently – gather twice for the following Sabbath day. Following this command was especially hard because it was against what they knew. Again, they experienced anything saved for the next day becoming spoiled.
Even so, they obeyed. Then what did happen when they believed and collected twice? They put aside until morning, just as Moses had commanded. And in the morning, the leftover food was wholesome and good, without maggots or odor. It was God’s provision for them.
However, some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food. They did not listen to God and did not believe.
Yes, there are two groups of people in this world. Those who truly believe God’s promise and trust in God, whether God’s promise and command make sense or not. And those who trust their own life experience and knowledge while judging God’s command. If what God says does not match their experience and knowledge, they change or even ignore God’s command. In their lives, God takes a lower position than themselves. As needed, they overrule God.
Look around. What do we see? Do we see more of the first group or the second? Can we imagine what would happen if there were more of the first group than the second in this world? Then there would be no more worldly conflicts. All conflicts in this world come from the second group of people. They do what is right in their own eyes.
By the way, how did God actually respond to some Israelites who did not follow God’s command? They acted like the second group, but God did not punish them. God was patient and merciful to them. Why? God is love.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Then, God lovingly explained to the Israelites through Moses:
“How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day.” (Exodus 16:28b-29)
Why did God give such a seemingly counterintuitive command to the Israelites? God wanted to give a gift to the Israelites. Yes, God’s gift is something that surprises all who receive the gift. God’s gift is given freely without any merits. If we work for God’s gift and get it, it is not a gift but a wage.
God gives His gift freely, even today, and it is the most precious gift to all because it is salvation to all. Yes, it does not make sense, but it is true. We often say there is no free lunch. Everything has its value on earth, and we have to pay for it to get it. But God gives His eternal salvation freely to all. Thus, anyone who believes this truth freely receives God’s salvation – one’s eternal life, which is God’s most precious gift to all.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Surely, many people around us will keep searching for salvation, believing they must pay to get their salvation. But all searches become futile. All religions tried to solve this fundamental problem of salvation but failed. Why? All require us to pay for salvation while requiring an unattainable goal to achieve in one form or another, whether it is an absolute dedication of one’s entire life through a lifelong religious journey without one single mistake, a sudden heroic act, or both.
No, Our Ever-Loving God does not demand any one of them. God accepts us as who we are. Regardless of what we have done before, God accepts us. Why? God’s love is greater than anything else. Surely, God’s love is greater than all things we see, touch, suffer from, cry for, complain about, or even are angry about. God accepts us and loves us no matter who we are. Even at this moment, God patiently waits for us. He welcomes us with His wide-open arms and pours out to us His Unfathomable Love. Is there any other god who is like Our Ever-Loving God?
Even so, some got out to get their food on the Sabbath morning and found nothing. So the people did not gather any food on the seventh day. They learned God in a hard way.
Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: Fill a two-quart container with manna to preserve it for your descendants. Then later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt.”
Moses also told Aaron, “Get a jar and fill it with two quarts of manna. Then put it in a sacred place before the LORD to preserve it for all future generations.” Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He eventually placed it in the Ark of the Covenant—in front of the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
What can we learn? God does not want us just to hold God’s gift and enjoy it only for ourselves. God wants to commemorate God’s gift and what God has done for us throughout the rest of life. Why? God wants to make His gift known to others and our future generations. They also see what God has done for us and receive the most precious gift from God like us, which is God’s eternal salvation.
Again, our God is unlike other gods demanding and imposing religious rules and punishing those violating the religious rules. God is Our Ever-Loving Father, who cares for us always and forever. Let’s enjoy our relationship with Him as His beloved children and joyfully walk with Him. God loves our dearly loving relationship with us, which is what God really desires from us.
Let’s not forget. God provided manna to the Israelites for the next forty years until they arrived at the Promised Land, and God provides the same love and lets us gather what He has provided. We might feel we have collected more or less, but at the end of the day, we have gathered perfectly as God has provisioned each of us with His unfathomable love.
Thus, please don’t try to gather more than God’s provision. After all, we cannot gather even one grain or penny more than God’s provision. And here is one more critical thing we must remember, which many often overlook. What we have received from God is the best. Is there any reason why Our Ever-Loving Father provides other than the best? No. God provides the best for each of us each and every time without exception.
Then why does God provide us with the most precious salvation and the best in our lives? Because we are God’s most precious beloved children, and God dearly loves us.
Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? (Romans 8:32)