Pastor Rich Knight
July 23, 2023
Before I read the passage, I want to offer a suggestion for studying Old Testament stories. It’s this:
Don’t worry about, did it happen or not? That’s not the point of the stories! They were not written down to inform, but rather to inspire and instruct. Sometimes we spend so much time on – did this really happen the way the Bible describes it – that we never get to the point of the story. If you believe the story happened as described, you still have to ask, what’s the point of the story? What lessons can be learned? If you believe it’s just a story, a parable, you still have to ask, what’s the point of the story? So, you arrive at the same place no matter how you look at it! So if you get stuck on – how could that really happen? – just move along and get to the point of the story.
Let’s take a look.
Exodus 16:1-21, 31 “omer” = a quart
The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim and came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites: ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’ ” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”
13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer per person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.” 17 The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it became wormy and rotten. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed, but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
31 The Israelites called it manna; it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
By the way, do you know what the Israelites made with the manna? All sorts of things: Mannacoti, ManaMuffins, BamannaBread, Pumpkin Spice Manna Lattes.
Matthew 6:34 Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s from the section about trusting God. . God cares for the birds of the air, the lilies of the field; God will take care of you.
Matthew 6:34: “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Question: Do you know what the most important day of your life is?
If you could search back through your entire life, what’s the most important day of all for you?
The day you were born was pretty important.
Learning to walk was a life-changing day, so was saying your first words.
Some might say it was their wedding day that most shaped your life.
Others would say that the day they made their faith commitment to God was the most important day.
I think most of us come to faith gradually, but for some it’s quite dramatic and they can name the day. That aside for a moment
Do you know what the most important day of your life is? It’s today.
Today is the most important day of your life.
Nothing is worth more than this day.
I think that’s one of the main messages in the passage we read today from Exodus 16. Today is the most important day! Serve God today. Walk with God today. Enjoy God today. Love God today. Trust God today. God says, “I will give the people Manna for each today.” And each day I want them to gather what they need to eat for that day, and that day alone. The one exception is the 6th day of the week. They’re to gather double that day, so they can take the 7th day off. The 7th day is to be a sabbath to the Lord.
God’s message to the Israelites was . . . .
“I will take care of you one day at a time. Focus on today.
“Trust me for today. And then trust me for tomorrow.”
Some did. Some didn’t.
Illustration. I’ve used this illustration before.
Imagine that I put out breakfast for my children, and they say, “Are you going to feed us lunch, Dad? Will we have food for lunch?” Of course, I’ll feed you lunch.
And then at lunchtime while they’re eating – “Are you going to feed us dinner, Dad? Please tell us they’ll be food here for us for dinner.” I’d start to get a little concerned. “Yes, of course I’ll feed you dinner. Trust me.” And then at dinner, “Will we have food for tomorrow? Will we have meals tomorrow?”
“Trust me. Trust in my love for you. Trust in my care for you. Trust in who am I. Just trust me.”
I think God sometimes wants to say that to us. Just trust me. Just like God wanted to develop faith in the Israelites, God wants to develop that same faith in us.
- Faith that trusts in God’s provisions, God’s goodness.
Now, before we’re too hard on the Israelites, imagine finishing your dinner and realizing that you’ve just eaten the last bit of food in your house. The cupboard is bare, and you’re just hoping something shows up in the morning. That’s the type of situation they were facing.
And God says to them – One Day at a Time. Focus on today. I will give you manna each day.
I wonder if Jesus had this story in mind when he put together the Lord’s Prayer – Give us this day our daily bread. God gave the Israelites their daily manna.
Focusing on each day is a theme in Scripture.
-to stay in the moment, to live each day fully – not allowing regrets of the past or anxiety about the future to steal the life out of today. Live today today. Live it fully.
–“This is the day that the Lord has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it . . . in this day!”
–Joshua said, “Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and -my house we will serve the Lord.
–Ps. 95 – “If today you hear God’s voice, do not harden your heart.”
–“Today is the day of salvation.”
–“Unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
All we’ve got is today, so what if we were to truly live it as if it is the most important day of our lives? This is hugely important because –
God is found in this day, in this moment!
God’s Grace helps us accept our past.
God’s Promises give us hope and assurance for tomorrow.
But this is the most important day – this is the day of salvation. This is the day for manna from heaven.
Nothing has helped me more these past 10 months than Alisa saying to me, “Let’s just focus on today. One Day at a Time.”
Henri Nouwen: “Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?” There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let’s rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.”
God gives us enough light for the next step.
God gives us enough light for today.
And we trust that God will give us just the right amount of light tomorrow.
Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will be there for you tomorrow. Focus on today.”
Illustration. My favorite professor in college was an English Professor by the name of Nelvin Vos. He had an amazing way of bringing a book, a poem, a play to life. I took him for a class on contemporary drama. One day after class I was chatting with him, and I said, “I’ve enjoyed all of these plays. I couldn’t even name a favorite.”
Dr. Vos said, “That makes me happy, because I try to teach every play as if it were the best and most important play ever written.”
What if we lived today as if it were the best and most important day ever?
Think about it.
My favorite professor Dr. Vos had a blessing that he ended every semester with. On the last day he would always say to the class,
“May you be alive every day of your life.”
May you be alive this day – alive to God, alive to others, alive to life!
And God will give you manna from heaven.
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Love of God our Creator,
And the strength and joy of the Holy Spirit be with you this day, this moment, and forever. Amen.