The worship songs were wonderful, weren’t they? But it didn’t take long, and it didn’t take much, for those singers to be sinners, and that congregation to be complainers, and even contenders against Moses and Aaron, and ultimately against God.
It’s understandable to communicate, “Hey Moses, looks a little dry here.” Moses would have probably said, “You’re right, let’s pray. The same God who saved us from Egypt, will supply all of our needs. It doesn’t mean there won’t be times when we get a little thirsty, or a little hungry, but He’s testing us, we need to trust Him.”
But the people complained, and they contended. Moses did the right thing by crying out to God, but I’m sure the pressure from the people made His life and prayer time, tougher than it should have been.
It’s hard to believe, but just 6 weeks after experiencing such a great salvation and redemption from Egypt, they wanted to return to their slavery (Exodus 16:1-3), primarily because they wanted meat and bread to eat. Imagine that, after God had saved them in such spectacular fashion, they thought God was only good at starting this new life, that He couldn’t complete this mission, that they all were going to die. They believed the lie.
May we truly trust the Lord…after all He’s done for us. It’s okay to communicate, but let’s not grumble or complain…God will be testing us.
I’m reminded of:
Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV) “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
God would provide this amazing Manna in the wilderness for 40 years, just as He provides for us, one day at a time. Now, some might complain about the menu and ask God for more of a variety, after all, 40 years of pancakes might sound monotonous, but keep in mind, it wasn’t supposed to be 40 years. It should have only been 2 years and 11 days. 2 years at Mount Sinai and then the 11-day journey to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:2). But their doubt and disobedience caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
I have a hunch we need to be a lot more careful when it comes to food. Beware of gluttony, beware of a life where our god is our belly (Philippians 3:19). Don’t worry about food and don’t worship it either, just take in what God gives, each and every day – it can be like Manna for Today. We read the Psalmists words about the Manna:
Psalm 78:24–25 (NKJV) “Had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. 25 Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full.”
The Manna would be a picture of Jesus, God’s bread from heaven (John 6:30-35).
We have another picture of Jesus presented to us in the section, when the people once again, contended with Moses for water (Exodus 17:2). Moses again, did the right thing by crying out to the Lord, who instructed him to strike the rock and water would come out of it. The Rock was a picture of Jesus. We read in:
1 Corinthians 10:4 (NKJV) “…and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”
When Jesus was “struck” in His death and resurrection, this opened the door for the Holy Spirit to come, which the water here symbolizes (see also John 7:37-39).
This was not going to be an easy task for Moses and Aaron, leading 3 million people in the middle of the wilderness. Especially fickle folks like them. It’s difficult to fathom that after all that God had done, they questioned whether or not the LORD was even among them (Exodus 17:7).
(sigh) may that not be us.
The Kingdom of God is very much like a wedding feast that the Father is having for His Son and His Son’s bride, and the Jews were (generally speaking) the first ones to be invited. In a general sense, Jesus is indicting Israel because they cared nothing about this wedding. They were not willing to come (see also Matthew 23:37). Even though the King sent them numerous invitations, even though it would be glorious, they made light of it, they didn’t have time for God, they had their own lives to live, so they brought judgment upon themselves.
Since Israel was not willing to come, the invitation went out to the Gentiles. I’ve always loved Matthew 22:9, it’s an encouragement for us all to “go out” and invite people to church, to Christ, to the “Wedding.” The Father is willing to provide the clothes of righteousness in Christ, but we must be sure to wear the gracious garment He has provided by faith in Him.
It’s tragic to see the way the religious leaders thought they could trap Jesus by testing Him – what arrogance, what ignorance; Jesus was here to save them, but they were completely caught up in building their own kingdom on earth. They tested Him with the question of taxes, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” It was one of those polarizing issues. If Jesus simply said “Yes,” He would ostracize the Jews; if Jesus simply said, “No,” He could be accused and convicted of sedition. Jesus went deep, He asked for a denarius (He probably didn’t have one) it bore the image of Caesar, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, but render to God the things that are God’s.” The Bible teaches we are to pay our taxes (Romans 13:1-6) but it also teaches that we are created in the image of God, let’s be sure to pay our taxes and give God our lives.
The Sadducees were the liberals of the day and they did not believe in the resurrection (they didn’t believe in life after death). They come to Christ with a question of a woman who married 7 different brothers because of the Levirate law. Their question was, whose wife would she be in heaven? Jesus identified their problem as not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. In heaven there is no marriage, we’ll be like the angels in that sense. It doesn’t mean you won’t know your spouse there, as a matter of fact I always tell my wife, “We’ll still be best friends forever.”
Jesus let the Sadduccess know, there is no marrying and multiplying in heaven, but there is life after death. Jesus goes on to quote Exodus 3:6, 15 – where the Lord identifies Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – even in Moses’ day! God wasn’t speaking in the past tense…no, He’s still their God. There is a resurrection, there is life after death, as a matter of fact, God even wired us in such a way that we all know it deep down in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Another Psalm of David, who was not only the sweet Psalmist of Israel, but the rugged soldier of many battles, who teaches us how to fight the good fight.
The enemy will oppose us, the wicked will come against us – let’s be sure to make that same proclamation, that declaration of salvation, as David did:
Psalm 27:1 (NKJV) “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
What a relief, there is NOTHING to be afraid of, even if an army surrounds me, I will be confident in Christ, I will stay focused on Him with laser vision.
Psalm 27:4 (NKJV) “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”
What a beautiful passage to be consumed with One thing, to be in fellowship with God – every day of my life – to do what? To behold His beauty and to learn…about Him, and me, and us, and life forever and ever.
Another one of those Proverbs challenging us to hold tight to these words of wisdom.
To bind God’s Word around our hearts doesn’t speak of wearing it as a necklace, it speaks of loving it and hiding it in our hearts, it speaks of memorizing God’s Word. Let’s do our best to memorize Scripture.
Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
And then another one of those Proverbs given to guard us from sexual sin. Not to go anywhere near it, don’t lust in your heart, don’t look into her eyes – for good reason:
Proverbs 6:26a (NKJV) “For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread…”
That doesn’t sound good, by any means!
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.