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Sunday, December 31, 2017

posted Dec 31, 2017, 11:01 PM by Site Administrator



Exodus 16:1-36

Key Verse 16:4


4Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.


            First, “Manna training” (1-4; 6-21). Look at verse 1. When the Israelites came to the Desert of Sin, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt, they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” When they had left Egypt, they carried dough, which didn’t contain the yeast, so during this entire journey thus far, they had eaten unleavened bread. For one whole month, three times a day, seven days a week, they had eaten the same dish – unleavened bread. As you know, unleavened bread is not yummy at all, and eating this unleavened bread for one whole month was not easy for anyone. They endured the pain of eating the unleavened bread all the way thus far. How would you respond that you are to eat the unleavened bread for three times a day, seven days a week, and for one whole month? Surely it is not easy to eat it for even one week. Now after one month, all the food they had was gone, and in the desert, there was nothing to eat. Maybe, after skipping the meals one or two times, they could not bear such difficulty and fear any longer. So, the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.


            In their grumbling, they said that in Egypt they had sat around pots of meat and ate all the food, but in the desert now, they were going to die for starvation. Actually, their life in Egypt as slaves was really terrible; their life was bitter. But there was one thing that was really good – from time to time, they were assigned to take care of the meat pots, and thereby, when the eyes of the slave drivers were not on them, they ate the meat freely – it was yummy. They did not talk about how bitter their life was, but how yummy the meat was – the one thing that was good, and they yearned for their life in Egypt. In this way, they said that life in Egypt was good, and life in God was not so good. Their point was, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt when we were enjoying life very well? Only because you brought us out of Egypt, now we are suffering so terribly.” God worked hard to save them; he sacrificed a lot for them. But now they were blaming God for his salvation. It was great insult at God. Many people blame God in the same way; they complain for this new life, because they cannot play video games any longer, or cannot have wild parties any longer.


How did God respond to their grumbling? Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together:


4Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.


            Instead of punishing them, God was going to give them food from heaven. “I will rain down bread from heaven.” The expression, “rain down,” means “abundance.” God would give them food from heaven abundantly. In the desert, nothing would solve their bread problem. If they imported wheat, then, for each meal, they would need about 10,000 bags of wheat, each 50 lbs, every meal, 900,000 bags every month. Or if they used the flocks and herds they had, then, for each meal, they would need about 10,000 cows, or 100,000 sheep; soon, all of their animals would be gone, but still they would be hungry. It was impossible for them to survive in the desert. But God rained down bread from heaven in the desert everyday for the next 40 years without missing even one time. They grumbled that God had brought them into the desert to die for starvation. But God fed them with unknown bread for forty years. In the year 2017, sometimes, we suffered financially; sometimes, we were scared of our job matter. But now at the end of the year, as we look back, we can see that God has taken care of us very well; He has never been late. We must believe in God’s abundant provision; believe that God will give you a good job.


            But God’s purpose was not to just solve their food problem alone. If it was for solving their bread problem alone, God could have fed them in many other fancy and convenient ways – he could ask them to prepare a table for each household, and then, when they woke up, the table would be full of delicious foods just like in Disney Fairy tales; or, God would ask them to prepare a jar for each family, then, when they woke up, they would find that the jar was full of wheat, and as in the case of Elijah and Elisha, or in the case of Jesus feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, the jar would be always full with wheat. Or God would have given them monthly or yearly bread, and it would be convenient both for God and the people. But instead, God gave them bread from heaven every day, so every day, the Israelites had to go out and gather food – each person going out of their tent and gathering bread, instead of comfortably staying home and sleeping – that was God’s training topic.


            Verses 13 and 14 reads: That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.” It was white like a coriander seed, and it tasted like wafers made with honey – it was sweet. They called it “Manna,” which means, “What is it?”


            God gave them bread from heaven, but there were some practical things the Israelites had to do to secure food from God. God commanded them in verse 16, “Each one is to gather as much as he needs.” Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and each person in the community had to go out and gather Manna for himself or herself. Also, verse 21 shows that as the sun grew hot, it melted away. In the desert, the sun grows hot so quickly. So, they had to get up early in the morning to gather Manna; if they were late, they had to fast that day. So, in order to get up early in the morning, they went to bed early. God never said that they should not have any party, but when it was around 10 or 11 PM, they had to stop it and dismiss, so that they would be able to get up early in the morning the next day. Because of Manna, now they had to control themselves and adjust their daily schedule around it. In that way, they learned to live according to God’s commands, controlling their fleshly desires according to God’s schedule in the morning.


            God says in verse 4, “In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” Collectively it seemed that they followed God’s instructions very well because they were following the guidance of the pillar of fire and cloud. But God wanted to see if they would follow his instructions very specifically. Would they obey God’s instructions specifically, willing to deny themselves? Or would they just follow the trend mindlessly? God wanted them to be like well trained soldiers, living according to his commands, instead of doing whatever they felt like doing. For this, He wrestled with them, training them through food, for the next 40 years. Why did God do so? It was because he had a great vision for them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the whole world. His vision for them was that he would establish each one of them as a priest, so holy and powerful, who would be able to serve many nations. Because of this great hope and vision for them, God did not leave them in misery as slaves; instead, God wrestled with them to remove all flesh-oriented lifestyles and habits through Manna training. After receiving this Manna training for forty years, these slave people would come out as the mighty army of God, and God used as his instruments of judgment on the sinful people of Canaan.


            God wants us to be like well-trained soldiers. There are some specific instructions for our Christian life such as worship service, or testimony writing, or fishing, conference, or many other things. And then, He says, “In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” How do you respond? Some people respond rebelliously, saying, “In the New Testament we are free from the law,” and they ignore whatever God says in the Bible; instead, they just do whatever they see fit or they do as their situation allows; as a result, they never grow in God; they are not reliable at all just like undisciplined civilians. But those who receive this training before God sincerely, making all possible efforts to do what they are asked to do despite their hectic schedule and challenging circumstances, grow strong and mature; they become reliable; we know that once a task is given them, no matter what, they will do it. Such people are precious and dependable just like well trained soldiers. God wants all of us to be such well-trained soldiers for Christ, very reliable and dangerous for God’s kingdom work.


            Sometimes I love Kellogg’s Frost Flakes; I buy a big bag of it at Sam’s club with soy milk and bananas. I eat it one or two times, then, that’s it. But the Israel people had to eat the same meal all the time for forty years. It was a real challenge. At first, it tasted like wafers made with honey, meaning, it was tasty. But when they ate it three times a day for seven days, they were sick and tired of it. But there was no other choice; there was no Ralph’s market or Seven Eleven. They had to survive with Manna. So, what did they do? They began to develop special recipes to turn Manna into gourmet meals. Manna was raw material like flour. Numbers 11:8 reads: “The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil.” Soon they developed many other special recipes. They made Manna burgers, manna spaghettis, manna steaks, manna soup, manna smoothies, manna energy drinks, manna granules, manna cookies, manna tofu, manna taco, etc. They did this for forty long years that in the end, all of them became experts in cooking manna. Once manna was given to any of them, about 20 minutes later, it turned out to be delicious gourmet meal, and everyone enjoyed it very much. 


            Forty years later, Moses explained to them the real hidden purpose of this manna training, saying, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” God wanted to teach them this truth – Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The Israelites thought that man lived on bread alone. When they lived as slaves in Egypt, they had no hope or vision for their life; they were born as slaves, lived as slaves and died as slaves generation after generation; so their life was gloomy and depressing. But there was one thing that made them happy and excited: When they were assigned to take care of the pots of meat and enjoyed some meat, they were so happy and excited; as they were coming home, they were humming and singing, and their faces were bright; people were curious and asked them what had happened. Then, proudly, they said, “Guess what? I ate a lot of meat with garlic. Hahaha!” Such people were considered successful people. Their desire, their dream and hopes were set on eating good foods such as meats with garlic and herbs. In their eyes, life was about food. They lived for food and pursued it. They were indeed miserable slaves.


            Now, after bringing them out of Egypt, God wanted to teach them that human life was not about food. So, He rained down food from heaven freely. Then, since they had already food abundantly, they had no reason to pursue it any longer; and since all of them had the same food, no one needed to compete for it either. God solved their food problem. And there was no other thing to do in the desert – no entertainment, or nothing to do in the desert. The only thing they had was God’s words, God’s laws to think about. The only intriguing thing, something that required attention, concentration, and effort to understand or to apply was God’s word. So they thought about the word of God, or wrote God’s words on the ground, or even drew huge pictures of God’s words on the desert floor; they meditated on them and studied about them, and sometimes, they grasped God’s words and found God’s great vision for them, and they were amazed; sometimes, they were comforted; sometimes, they were inspired greatly by God’s words; sometimes, they were encouraged; sometimes, they found God’s love for them in God’s laws. God’s words became the source of comfort, strength, inspiration, joy, happiness and deep sense of fulfillment. Through God’s words, they were sustained and nourished. In the desert, God taught them that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord; in the desert, they learned that human life is not for food or any other thing, but for God’s words; human life is about studying and understanding God’s words, about obeying and fulfilling God’s words.


            All people in the world now live for the security. But human life is not about securing a comfortable life with a career; we were not born into the world to secure a happy family; instead, man lives on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord; we are here to live with the word of God. When people do not learn this, they still live for food, setting their hopes on their career dream or securing a happy family even in the church. Their worship of God remains superficial; at best, they go through the motion; outwardly, they look religious, doing Christian things, but inwardly, their souls are parched like barren land or withered branches, never finding any joy or fulfillment in God. Then, they end up trying to find happiness and fulfillment in something else, falling into Satan’s trap. Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. This is such an important matter. In order to teach this to the Israel people, God wrestled with them in the desert for forty years, giving them instructions and telling them to follow his instructions specifically, even threatening them that, if they did not, they would not have anything to eat. As God’s people, we all must learn this truth – man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. When we learn this, naturally, we wrestle with the word of God, meditating on it and trying to grasp it and digest it. Then, we become really blessed people as the Psalmist says. “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” In the year 2017, many things happened. But as we look back the year, we see that all those things have faded away. Instead, the only things that have left in us and in our life are the words of God He has given us, especially, the words of God based on Luke’s gospel; God has opened our eyes to see the truth of how things would go as the end time approaches, how things would go when Jesus comes again, and in view of his coming, how we must live our lives; through his words on Luke’s gospel, God comforted and strengthened us to stand firm on his side and do the work of evangelists; He has given us hope and vision for our life in Jesus Christ. With the word of God, we have become strong and very courageous to do God’s work on our campuses. Indeed, we can say, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” 


            Simply, the word of God is food for our spirit, containing all necessary nutrients. Just as the Israel people had no other choice but manna in the desert, there is no other food for our spirit in this barren world except the word of God. At first, when people are born again, the word of God is so sweet, like wafers made with honey, or cakes made with olive oil. When they read the Bible, they are so overjoyed and amazed that they even pant. But as time passes by, such joy disappears and they feel num to the word of God. Now even if they read the Bible, it is not the same any longer. So, many Christians wander, without knowing what to do and what’s wrong with them. It is because they have not learned to eat the word of God. Just as manna was raw material, so is the word of God. The word of God is so plain. Now they have to learn how to cook Manna and change it into delicious gourmet meal. When they are told to write testimonies, they have a hard time, because simply they don’t know how to turn the word of God into delicious gourmet dish; they struggle hard, and they feel like squeezing their brain to make sentences. They fail many times. But as they struggle continually with testimony writing by doing what they are asked to do specifically, they develop the capability of eating the word of God; they come to learn how to cook manna; they come to have many special recipes that as this training of eating the word of God goes on, they become experts in turning the raw material of the word of God into powerful, inspirational gourmet dish for their own spirit and for many others’ also. When they share their testimonies, all those who hear them are so inspired and blessed, just like eating gourmet meal. When they teach the word of God to students, their students are shocked and amazed at the depth of the word of God; they feel like eating really gourmet spiritual dish. They are overjoyed and happy and say, “Can we study twice a week?” For example, Genesis is just plain words of God; people read it, but they catch nothing. But now we have developed a special recipe to turn it into gourmet dish that when we teach Genesis, our students are shocked and amazed – their face lit with the grace of God and their spirit is revived. We turned John 1:1-5 into gourmet dish, and it is now super powerful. God’s plan for Israel people was not that only Moses would be powerful and excellent in cooking Manna, but all of them, so that the whole nation would be a kingdom of priests, in which all people were priests; each person in Israel was to be an excellent Bible teacher and powerful messenger of God’s word. How would this vision of God come true? Through manna training. God’s vision for our church is not that one or a few leaders become powerful and excellent in the word of God, but each one of us, all of us become experts in the Bible. Then, we are a kingdom of priests for the whole world, and wherever we go, God can use us freely and do mighty works of salvation for many people worldwide. How, then, can this vision of God come true? Through manna training – the training of eating the word of God daily. By dedicating ourselves to eating the word of God daily even arranging all our schedules around it. We encourage everyone to write deep and sincere testimony once a week – it requires our daily struggle of eating the word of God; if it is not enough, and if you want to wrestle with the word of God more, then, there are daily bread booklets available, and when you struggle with daily bread booklets, in four years, you will cover the entire Bible. I pray that God’s plan for each one of us, God’s plan for our church, may be fulfilled so that we all may grow up as excellent Bible teachers and our church may be a kingdom of priests for the whole world.


          Second, “Sabbath Training” (16:5; 22-36). Look at verse 5. God said to them, “On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much, and on the Sabbath, Manna did not stink or get maggots in it. In other days, if they saved some for the next day, it smelled bad and was full of maggots. But on the Sabbath, it was still fresh, and didn’t get any maggot. Moses said to them, “Eat it today, because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.” The reason God did not give them manna on the Sabbath was so that they might not be bothered by the activity of gathering it; he even didn’t want them to do such a small work on the Sabbath so that they would focus on coming to Him, worshiping Him and having fellowship with Him. That much was the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy; let it not even be bothered by a food matter.


            There are two sets of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. One is Exodus 20, and the other is Deuteronomy 5. These two sets of the Ten Commandments are identical word by word, except the fourth commandment, the commandment about the Sabbath. In these two places, God explains the purpose of the Sabbath law. Exodus 20:11 reads: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The first purpose of the Sabbath law is to commemorate God’s six days’ creation. Remembering God as our Creator is the most fundamental thing we must do; when we do that, we know who He is and who we are – his creatures – and we know what we must do and how we must live our life – we must appreciate his creation of us, because He is the Cause of our existence; and as his creatures, we must love Him, serve Him and worship Him. Remembering God’s six days’ creation and appreciating it is so important that God commands us to commemorate it once every 7 days by setting apart the seventh day, and coming to Him and worshiping Him. This is so important that God does not want us to be bothered by any human activity in the world. When we keep the Sabbath absolutely, we live as his creatures, obeying his command; thus, our relationship with God is sustained, and we live as God’s people. Indeed, keeping the Sabbath absolutely by remembering His six days’ creation and appreciating it is the lifeline for all God-believing people.


            Deuteronomy 5:15 reads: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” The other purpose of the Sabbath law is for us to remember God’s salvation grace. When you remember God’s salvation grace, when you remember how he showed you his grace while you were in misery and pains, you are so happy and thankful to Him that, out of thanks and willingness, you do whatever He wants you to do. Thus, when you remember it, you come to have the right relationship with Him. This is the foundation of our Christian life. This is so important that God commands us to commemorate it once every 7 days absolutely. These two (remembering and thanking God’s six days’ creation and his salvation) are the foundation of our relationship with God – the most important things. For these purposes, we are to make serious and wholehearted struggles to keep the Sabbath absolutely.


            How did the Israelites respond to this Sabbath rule? Moses told them that there would not be any manna on the Sabbath; yet, still, they did not take it seriously; they went out to gather manna, but found none. At this, God was upset with them and showed them how they must keep the Sabbath holy. Look at verses 28 and 29. Let’s read these verses together:


28Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.”  


            God commanded them not to go out on the Sabbath; everyone was to stay where he was. God forbid the Israelites from even gathering food on the Sabbath day; He did not let them do any work, or even walk more than one mile – forget about having a family trip or having a wedding ceremony on the Sabbath, or even a family gathering. The Sabbath day was not usable for them for any purpose. Simply, the Sabbath day was untouchable, fully offered to God – it was holy. So, when they planned their weekly schedule, the Sabbath was already offered to God, and thereby, they arranged all their schedules around the Sabbath day – birthday party, wedding, family gathering, baby shower, business trip... So, in planning, God’s schedule came first (the Sabbath day), and then, their own schedule. Through this, they learned to live a God-first and God-centered life.


         The Sabbath principle is applied to the Sunday worship service for the New Testament believers. People make their vacation plan from Friday to Sunday and say, “We keep worship service there.” Not good at all! The Lord’s day should not be a part of our plan. Instead, we must start our vacation from Monday and come back home by Saturday. Even though we have to sacrifice few days of our vacation period, we must do it to keep the Lord’s day holy; the Sabbath is holy, and our God is worth it. We must adjust our schedule and plan around God’s schedule.


            God commanded them to keep an omer of manna in a jar for the generations to come, so that they could see the bread God gave the Israelites to eat in the desert. When later generations saw manna in the jar, they would learn God’s provision, and they would put their trust in God especially in the matter of food. God would rain down jobs for them, even in the desert-like environment. Also, they would learn the lesson of manna training.


           When God brought them out of Egypt, they were still nothing but slaves – they were born as slaves, and lived as slaves. Their way of thinking, their value system, their lifestyle were all according to their slave mentality. They were miserable, shallow and useless. But God had a great hope and vision for them; so He did not leave them alone in misery; instead, He wrestled with them through manna training and Sabbath training to remove their slave mentality, slave attitude and slave lifestyle, and to transform them into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, so noble, effective and glorious. He wrestled with them in the desert with these two training topics for 40 years. Indeed, only thanks to God’s zeal for them, could they grow up as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.


        Some people ask me, “Missionary John, please train me.” They want to be great servants of God. I accept their daring ambition, and say, “Okay. Write a sincere testimony once a week and keep the Sunday worship service absolutely.” Through writing a deep testimony once a week, we learn to wrestle with the word of God putting our own fleshly desires under our control – no longer flesh oriented people, but people who wrestle with God’s word. Through wrestling with the word of God in testimony writing, we derive all we need for our spiritual life from the word of God – vision and hope, inspiration and encouragement, comfort and strength; by eating the word of God daily, our spiritual life is sustained, and we grow up as God’s people who live by God’s word. Through keeping the Sunday worship service absolutely, we live as God’s people, remembering and appreciating his creation of us, putting our trust in Him who is the Almighty, loving and worshiping Him; and we come to live a God-first, and God-centered life. These two are the most basic duties of all God-believing people. Those who receive these two basic trainings faithfully before God grow up as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, a source of blessing for many.


        The Israel people ate manna until they entered the promised land and ate the fruit there; when they ate the fruit there, the next day, there was no more manna. We eat the word of God everyday, all the days of our life, until we reach the heavenly kingdom, the promised land.


One Word:       This Is The Bread That The LORD Has Given You To Eat