February 4, Exodus 16-18

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16 The entire Israelite community departed 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 left the land of Egypt. The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”[a]So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites: “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt,and in the morning you will see the Lord’s glory because he has heard your complaints about him. For who are we that you complain about us?” Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat this evening and all the bread you want in the morning, for he has heard the complaints that you are raising against him. Who are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.”Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your complaints.’” 10 As Aaron was speaking to the entire Israelite community, they turned toward the wilderness, and there in a cloud the Lord’s glory appeared.11 The Lord spoke to Moses, 12 “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them: At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”13 So at evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew evaporated, there were fine flakes on the desert surface, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, “What is it?” because they didn’t know what it was.Moses told them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each person needs to eat. You may take two quarts[b] per individual, according to the number of people each of you has in his tent.’”17 So the Israelites did this. Some gathered a lot, some a little. 18 When they measured it by quarts,[c] the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat. 19 Moses said to them, “No one is to let any of it remain until morning.” 20 But they didn’t listen to Moses; some people left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. Therefore Moses was angry with them.21 They gathered it every morning. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat, but when the sun grew hot, it melted. 22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, four quarts[d] apiece, and all the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He told them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you want to bake, and boil what you want to boil, and set aside everything left over to be kept until morning.’”24 So they set it aside until morning as Moses commanded, and it didn’t stink or have maggots in it. 25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. Today you won’t find any in the field. 26 For six days you will gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”27 Yet on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they did not find any. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you[e] refuse to keep my commands and instructions? 29 Understand that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he will give you two days’ worth of bread. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.31 The house of Israel named the substance manna.[f] It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Two quarts[g] of it are to be preserved throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”33 Moses told Aaron, “Take a container and put two quarts[h] of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be preserved throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron placed it before the testimony to be preserved.35 The Israelites ate manna for forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate manna until they reached the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (They used a measure called an omer, which held two quarts.[i])

Water from the Rock

17 The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So the people complained to Moses, “Give us water to drink.”“Why are you complaining to me?” Moses replied to them. “Why are you testing the Lord?”But the people thirsted there for water and grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you ever bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? In a little while they will stone me!” The Lord answered Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Take the staff you struck the Nile with in your hand and go. I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah[j] and Meribah[k]because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

The Amalekites Attack

At Rephidim, Amalek[l] came and fought against Israel. Moses said to Joshua, “Select some men for us and go fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the hilltop with God’s staff in my hand.”10 Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 While Moses held up his hand,[m] Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand[n] down, Amalek prevailed. 12 When Moses’s hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army[o] with the sword.14 The Lord then said to Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.”15 And Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord Is My Banner.”[p16 He said, “Indeed, my hand is lifted up toward[q] the Lord’s throne. The Lord will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Jethro’s Visit

18 Moses’s father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything that God had done for Moses and for God’s people Israel when the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt.Now Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, had taken in Zipporah, Moses’s wife, after he had sent her back, along with her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom[r] (because Moses had said, “I have been a resident alien in a foreign land”) and the other Eliezer (because he had said, “The God of my father was my helper and rescued me from Pharaoh’s sword”).[s]Moses’s father-in-law Jethro, along with Moses’s wife and sons, came to him in the wilderness where he was camped at the mountain of God. He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowed down, and then kissed him. They asked each other how they had been[t] and went into the tent. Moses recounted to his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardships that confronted them on the way, and how the Lord rescued them.Jethro rejoiced over all the good things the Lord had done for Israel when he rescued them from the power of the Egyptians. 10 “Blessed be the Lord,” Jethro exclaimed, “who rescued you from the power of Egypt and from the power of Pharaoh. He has rescued the people from under the power of Egypt! 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he did wonders when the Egyptians acted arrogantly against Israel.”[u]12 Then Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’s father-in-law in God’s presence.13 The next day Moses sat down to judge the people, and they stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’s father-in-law saw everything he was doing for them he asked, “What is this thing you’re doing for the people? Why are you alone sitting as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”15 Moses replied to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I make a decision between one man and another. I teach them God’s statutes and laws.”17 “What you’re doing is not good,” Moses’s father-in-law said to him. 18 “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone. 19 Now listen to me; I will give you some advice, and God be with you. You be the one to represent the people before God and bring their cases to him. 20 Instruct them about the statutes and laws, and teach them the way to live and what they must do. 21 But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 22 They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every major case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten your load,[v] and they will bear it with you. 23 If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.”[w]24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 So Moses chose able men from all Israel and made them leaders over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26 They judged the people at all times; they would bring the hard cases to Moses, but they would judge every minor case themselves.27 Moses let his father-in-law go, and he journeyed to his own land.

As Americans, especially Texans, we tend to do everything on our own and not ask for help. We pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and carry on day by day. We value independence. It is no coincidence that chapter 18 is right after the victory over Amalek. In that victory Moses needed help to hold his hands up because he was exhausted. The very next chapter he is exhausted again and takes advice from his father-in-law to let others help him.

 There is a flaw in our independence. God designed us to be dependant on each other. We need others in our lives to help get through the day and do what God wants us to do. Galatians 6 tells us to bear one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ. Who’s burdens are you bearing? Who is helping bear yours? 

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