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New Begining

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Opening Up Exodus Chapter 6: God Meets the Need (15:22–17:7)

God meets the need

(15:22–17:7)

God is not just the God of the new beginning—he is also the God of the entire pilgrimage of his people. As the journey unfolds, God’s people will discover the riches of his grace and his provision for them. Having begun a new thing, he maintains it and continues it along the way.

You cannot take 600,000 men, as well as their wives and children, on a journey into the desert without coming across some basic hitches and snags to do with food and drink! Yet God continued to demonstrate his love, faithfulness, grace and power, by making provision for his people in the most remarkable of ways.

Bitter water made sweet (15:22–27)

After a journey of three days in the desert, water became a necessary commodity, but there was none. Imagine the delight of Israel to come across water; but imagine then Israel’s dismay when the water was discovered to be bitter and undrinkable! The name of the place was called ‘Marah’, meaning ‘bitter’, a Hebrew word which took on a powerfully personal significance in the Book of Ruth when Naomi (whose name meant ‘pleasant’), asked that she be called ‘Marah’ because of the way in which God’s hand had been against her.

However, God was able to turn the bitter water into sweet, thirst-quenching water. God asked Moses to throw a log into the water, and it became sweet. The chapter adds the intriguing comment that ‘there the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them.’ In a sense, this was a preparation for the giving of the law at Sinai, which was also a place of testing.

The ‘testing’ referred to is the challenge of giving total obedience to God; all along the way, God is looking for total commitment and consecration. Will his people listen to his voice or not (Ps 81:8ff)? The promise to those who will hear and obey him is that he will not allow them to be afflicted with the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians. The Lord may be a man of war, but he is also a healer (15:26).

That became evident when God eventually took his people to Elim, to the springs of water and the palm trees. What a contrast with Marah! Yet so often in the experience of God’s people, their journeys take them to Marah today and Elim tomorrow; God always knows what is best for his people.

Bread from heaven (16:1–36)

The need for water was accompanied with a need for food. In spite of seeing how God can make provision in the most unpromising of circumstances, the Israelites continued to grumble and complain, accusing Moses of bringing them out to the wilderness only to kill them with hunger (16:3).

In fact, God’s provision for his people at this point was to exceed their expectations. God promised that he would ‘rain down’ bread from heaven, and for forty years in the wilderness, he fed his people with manna (Ps. 78:24–25), and with quails, which was justification enough for Stephen’s claim that Moses led them out of Egypt, ‘performing signs and wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years’ (Acts 7:36).

Several things about the manna are worth noting.

FIRST, this was a supernatural provision. There was nothing ordinary about this fare. Indeed, Psalm 78:25 describes it as the ‘food of angels’, a reference, no doubt, to the fact that God provided it for his people in an extraordinary way.

SECOND, it was a daily provision, yet it did not appear every day. God purposely tested his people to see if they would walk in his law (16:4) by sending manna for six days out of seven, with the promise of a double portion on the sixth day that would provide two days’ food. The passage will later talk about the solemnity and holiness of the Sabbath day as the reason for this arrangement (16:23, 25, 26, 29).

This is extremely important, because by the time the Sabbath law is given at Sinai, the pattern of a weekly day of rest has already been established. The fourth commandment, while requiring that one day in seven be given to the Lord for worship, does not stipulate which day that should be. That must be established on other grounds, and is established, first, by the pattern of God’s creation, and second, by the law regarding the manna.

There was a very practical implication to all of this. While the manna was available for all, it had to be gathered strictly according to God’s regulations. Those who left the manna on the ground until the following day discovered that it had putrefied (16:20); on the other hand, those who gathered in the double portion on the sixth day found the portion for the seventh to be as fresh as any other. At the same time, any who went out on the Sabbath day for a fresh supply discovered there was none (16:26).

THIRD, it was a sufficient provision. In spite of the large number of people who needed food, God’s supply was bountiful. It was one of the great miracles of the desert floor that there was always enough manna. There was neither too much nor too little (16:17–18). Families and individuals discovered that God’s provision is always just enough.

FOURTH, it was a constant provision. Our attention is drawn to the fact that this supply remained the source of their nourishment for the duration of the wilderness journey: ‘The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan’ (16:35). This is further clarified and corroborated in the narrative of their entrance into Canaan, concerning which we read that God’s people kept the Passover, ‘and the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year’ (Josh. 5:11–12). It was food for the wilderness, and the supply never stopped until God fulfilled his promise and took his people into the land of Canaan.

FIFTH, it was a provision to be held as a memorial to God’s grace and goodness. This sweet tasting, heavenly bread was to be preserved in a jar before the presence of God (16:31–34). As such, it was to become one of several items relating to the Ark of the Covenant. Hebrews 9:4 says that the Ark contained the jar of manna, although 1 Kings 8:9 appears to contradict this. It is not unreasonable to suppose, however, that by the time the Ark is placed in the Temple, after it had been captured by the Philistines, the pot of manna may have been removed from it. Whatever the truth of the matter, the manna in the jar was kept before the Lord as a testimony to his goodness to his people.

Water from the rock (17:1–7)

In spite of previous blessing, the people still find it easy to grumble and complain. Again, the grumbling has to do with water. As they come to Rephidim, the last stop before Sinai (see Num. 33:14–15), the people of Israel ask, ‘Where will God find water for us, and how can he satisfy the needs of so many people in such a place as this?’ For this reason, Rephidim becomes Massah, or Meribah, the place of testing (see Ps. 81:7).

Moses brings his burden to the Lord. While the people complain against God, Moses complains TO God. God commands Moses to strike the rock, from which water gushes out (17:6). Again, the supernatural nature of God’s provision is evident to all Israel.

But it is interesting to see what the New Testament makes of this incident: Paul says of God’s people that ‘they all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ’ (1 Cor. 10:4). In some sense, therefore, the striking of the rock at Rephidim, resulting in the provision of water, provides us with an analogy of the one who is our Rock, and who gives us spiritual water to drink: Jesus Christ himself.

Opening Up Exodus Chapter 6: God Meets the Need (15:22–17:7)

God meets the need

(15:22–17:7)

God is not just the God of the new beginning—he is also the God of the entire pilgrimage of his people. As the journey unfolds, God’s people will discover the riches of his grace and his provision for them. Having begun a new thing, he maintains it and continues it along the way.

You cannot take 600,000 men, as well as their wives and children, on a journey into the desert without coming across some basic hitches and snags to do with food and drink! Yet God continued to demonstrate his love, faithfulness, grace and power, by making provision for his people in the most remarkable of ways.

Bitter water made sweet (15:22–27)

After a journey of three days in the desert, water became a necessary commodity, but there was none. Imagine the delight of Israel to come across water; but imagine then Israel’s dismay when the water was discovered to be bitter and undrinkable! The name of the place was called ‘Marah’, meaning ‘bitter’, a Hebrew word which took on a powerfully personal significance in the Book of Ruth when Naomi (whose name meant ‘pleasant’), asked that she be called ‘Marah’ because of the way in which God’s hand had been against her.

However, God was able to turn the bitter water into sweet, thirst-quenching water. God asked Moses to throw a log into the water, and it became sweet. The chapter adds the intriguing comment that ‘there the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them.’ In a sense, this was a preparation for the giving of the law at Sinai, which was also a place of testing.

The ‘testing’ referred to is the challenge of giving total obedience to God; all along the way, God is looking for total commitment and consecration. Will his people listen to his voice or not (Ps 81:8ff)? The promise to those who will hear and obey him is that he will not allow them to be afflicted with the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians. The Lord may be a man of war, but he is also a healer (15:26).

That became evident when God eventually took his people to Elim, to the springs of water and the palm trees. What a contrast with Marah! Yet so often in the experience of God’s people, their journeys take them to Marah today and Elim tomorrow; God always knows what is best for his people.

Bread from heaven (16:1–36)

The need for water was accompanied with a need for food. In spite of seeing how God can make provision in the most unpromising of circumstances, the Israelites continued to grumble and complain, accusing Moses of bringing them out to the wilderness only to kill them with hunger (16:3).

In fact, God’s provision for his people at this point was to exceed their expectations. God promised that he would ‘rain down’ bread from heaven, and for forty years in the wilderness, he fed his people with manna (Ps. 78:24–25), and with quails, which was justification enough for Stephen’s claim that Moses led them out of Egypt, ‘performing signs and wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years’ (Acts 7:36).

Several things about the manna are worth noting.

FIRST, this was a supernatural provision. There was nothing ordinary about this fare. Indeed, Psalm 78:25 describes it as the ‘food of angels’, a reference, no doubt, to the fact that God provided it for his people in an extraordinary way.

SECOND, it was a daily provision, yet it did not appear every day. God purposely tested his people to see if they would walk in his law (16:4) by sending manna for six days out of seven, with the promise of a double portion on the sixth day that would provide two days’ food. The passage will later talk about the solemnity and holiness of the Sabbath day as the reason for this arrangement (16:23, 25, 26, 29).

This is extremely important, because by the time the Sabbath law is given at Sinai, the pattern of a weekly day of rest has already been established. The fourth commandment, while requiring that one day in seven be given to the Lord for worship, does not stipulate which day that should be. That must be established on other grounds, and is established, first, by the pattern of God’s creation, and second, by the law regarding the manna.

There was a very practical implication to all of this. While the manna was available for all, it had to be gathered strictly according to God’s regulations. Those who left the manna on the ground until the following day discovered that it had putrefied (16:20); on the other hand, those who gathered in the double portion on the sixth day found the portion for the seventh to be as fresh as any other. At the same time, any who went out on the Sabbath day for a fresh supply discovered there was none (16:26).

THIRD, it was a sufficient provision. In spite of the large number of people who needed food, God’s supply was bountiful. It was one of the great miracles of the desert floor that there was always enough manna. There was neither too much nor too little (16:17–18). Families and individuals discovered that God’s provision is always just enough.

FOURTH, it was a constant provision. Our attention is drawn to the fact that this supply remained the source of their nourishment for the duration of the wilderness journey: ‘The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan’ (16:35). This is further clarified and corroborated in the narrative of their entrance into Canaan, concerning which we read that God’s people kept the Passover, ‘and the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year’ (Josh. 5:11–12). It was food for the wilderness, and the supply never stopped until God fulfilled his promise and took his people into the land of Canaan.

FIFTH, it was a provision to be held as a memorial to God’s grace and goodness. This sweet tasting, heavenly bread was to be preserved in a jar before the presence of God (16:31–34). As such, it was to become one of several items relating to the Ark of the Covenant. Hebrews 9:4 says that the Ark contained the jar of manna, although 1 Kings 8:9 appears to contradict this. It is not unreasonable to suppose, however, that by the time the Ark is placed in the Temple, after it had been captured by the Philistines, the pot of manna may have been removed from it. Whatever the truth of the matter, the manna in the jar was kept before the Lord as a testimony to his goodness to his people.

Water from the rock (17:1–7)

In spite of previous blessing, the people still find it easy to grumble and complain. Again, the grumbling has to do with water. As they come to Rephidim, the last stop before Sinai (see Num. 33:14–15), the people of Israel ask, ‘Where will God find water for us, and how can he satisfy the needs of so many people in such a place as this?’ For this reason, Rephidim becomes Massah, or Meribah, the place of testing (see Ps. 81:7).

Moses brings his burden to the Lord. While the people complain against God, Moses complains TO God. God commands Moses to strike the rock, from which water gushes out (17:6). Again, the supernatural nature of God’s provision is evident to all Israel.

But it is interesting to see what the New Testament makes of this incident: Paul says of God’s people that ‘they all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ’ (1 Cor. 10:4). In some sense, therefore, the striking of the rock at Rephidim, resulting in the provision of water, provides us with an analogy of the one who is our Rock, and who gives us spiritual water to drink: Jesus Christ himself.

A NEW BEGINNING

READ FROM GENESIS

8:20–9:29

THE RAINBOW

1. Meaning of the Rainbow

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” 9:13

2. The First Rainbow?

Whether rain and rainbows existed before Noah and the flood we’re not certain. Certain scholars believe this was the first occurrence of rain and a rainbow. But after the flood the rainbow was given a specific meaning by God. It became the sign of Godcovenant with Noah and his descendants.

3. An Example of God’s Mercy

God showed his mercy to Noah and his family and to all subsequent generations in his covenant.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” 8:22

OTHER RAINBOWS IN THE BIBLE

1. The Rainbow in Ezekiel

“Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.” Ezekiel 1:26–28a

Ezekiel’s Interpretation of the Rainbow

“This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Ezekiel 1:28b

Ezekiel’s Response on Seeing the Rainbow

“When I saw it, I fell face down, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Ezekiel 1:28c

2. The Rainbow in Revelation

“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and camelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.” Revelation 4:2–3

This rainbow speaks of God’s majesty.

God’s covenant was his unconditional promise never again to destroy all the earth. There still will be natural disasters, but they will not be worldwide, and they may therefore be overcome.

Whais

beginning

■ noun the time or place at which something begins.

▶ the first or earliest participle

▶ (beginnings) a person’s background or origin.

begone

2 Corinthians 3:7–18 NIV
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

7 Now if the ministry that brought death,m which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory,n transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnationo was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!p 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope,q we are very bold.r 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his faces to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull,t for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenantu is read.v It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord,w the veil is taken away.x 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,y and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.z 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplatea a the Lord’s glory,b are being transformed into his imagec with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

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