Exodus 15-16

We complain. God provides.

“Do they not realize that I have given them the seventh day, the Sabbath, as a day of rest? That is why I give you twice as much food on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must stay in your places. Do not pick up food from the ground on that day. So the people rested on the seventh day. Exodus 16:29-30 NLT

These two chapters are an interesting contrast between the faithlessness of the people and the faithfulness of God. Three days after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt and the incident at the Red Sea, the people start whining and complaining against Moses and Aaron. They find themselves without a source of reliable water. The waters of Marah are bitter and undrinkable. But God provides a solution. He makes the bitter water sweet. He meets their need. All God asks is that they obey Him. If they will, He will continue to bless them. But one month later they are at it again. This time they are complaining about the lack of bread. They even begin to wish that they were back in the land of Egypt. They find themselves reminiscing about how good they had it back there – in spite of the fact that they were slaves and severely oppressed. Driven by their physical passions, they complain to Moses and Aaron again and accuse them of trying to kill the entire assembly by starvation. But once again, God provides. This time He rains down manna from heaven. He also gives them quail. And He did so in order that they would know that He was their God. “I have heard the people’s complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” (Exodus 16:12 NLT). God provided bread and meat. In spite of their grumbling, God was faithful to provide. He knew they needed to eat. He knew they needed water. He knew them better than they knew themselves. But they didn’t know Him! They didn’t trust Him. They didn’t even talk directly to Him. Instead, they complained to Moses and Aaron. They had no relationship with the One who had delivered them from slavery.

God provided so that they would know Him. He met their needs in order that they might recognize that He was their powerful provider and faithful God. But the one thing God provided that we tend to overlook is found in these two chapters. It is the sabbath. In giving His instructions about gathering the manna, God tells the people to gather it for six days. On the sixth day they are to gather enough for two days. But on the seventh day, they are not to gather anything. Instead, they are to REST. God knew that these people were going to be warn out from their journey through the wilderness. He knew it was going to be difficult. So He set aside one day as a day of rest. In fact, He gives it to them as a gift. “Do they not realize that I have given them the seventh day, the Sabbath, as a day of rest? That is why I give you twice as much food on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days” (Exodus 16:29 NLT). God gave them a day in which to be restored, renewed, and rejuvenated by Him. They were to stay in their tents and rest. God knew what they needed. He knew the physical limitations of their bodies. He knew how much they could endure. So He provided them with a single day of rest. But the people even disobeyed that. They doubted God’s word and disobeyed His command and went out and tried to gather on the seventh day. Why? Because they didn’t think what He provided would be enough. They also gathered more on the sixth day than He told them to. Why? Because they feared for the future and thought they had to provide for themselves. But all it did was rot. God knew what they needed, but they didn’t know God. They didn’t trust God.

God knows we need rest. But rest is something most of us never do. We fill every day of the week with activity. Even our attempts at rest are activity based. We don’t know how to sit and relax. We don’t know how to get alone with God and be rejuvenated and restored. We sleep, but wake up tired. We take vacations, but return more stressed than when we left. We pursue our hobbies in an attempt to relax, but find they don’t meet the need. Why? Because we need soul rest. And there is only one way to meet that need – through time spent alone with God. The Psalmist described this soul thirst this way: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalms 42:1-2 NASB). We need God as much as we need bread, water and meat. Saint Augustine once said, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in You.” You and I have a need for soul rest, and we try to meet that need in so many ways. We look to anything and everything other than God to meet our need for soul rest and nothing ever delivers what we need. And yet God is calling out to us, offering us rest. He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!” (Psalms 46:10 NET). Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT). What we tend to want from God is meat, bread, and water. But He wants to give us rest – soul rest. Because that is what we really need. Over in Jeremiah 6:16, God told the Israelites, “Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” But their response was, “No, that’s not the road we want!” They refused to walk God’s way. They refused to follow His directions. And in doing so, they missed out on His rest. What about you? Are you at that crossroads? Are you willing to take His path and find His rest? Or are you going to say, “No, that’s not the road I want!”? God will provide. But we have to obey.

Father, You want to give me so much more than bread, meat, and water. You want to give me soul rest. I am anxious. I am tired. I am stressed out, tapped out, and in some ways, spiritually burned out. I need Your rest. But I find myself grumbling and complaining about bread, meat, and water. Help me to take the path You have for me – the path that leads to rest for my soul.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org