God Is Gracious – Rest In Him
Do you think work is a good thing? It is! It is good when we are able to be productive, contributive members of society through our labor.
When does it become bad? When it becomes the center of our life to a point we don’t eat, sleep, or even bathe. We just end up doing, as Rihanna sang, “Work, work, work, work”.
The good news is, God is gracious enough give to us this four-letter word: “REST”. Rest is God’s design and instructed to us for His glory. We need to take a break from our work, whether full-time ministry or work in the corporate world.
We see this in our passage today in Exodus 16:13-30. The title of our message is “God Is Gracious – Rest In Him”.
What was happening?
In Exodus 14, we recount the story of how God mightily and miraculously saved the Israelites from the Egyptians through the parting of the Red Sea.
“30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.” – Exodus 13:30-31 [KJV]
In Exodus 15, Moses and the Israelites sang a song of praise, giving honor and tribute to God after saving them from the Egyptians.
“3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. 4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.” – Exodus 15:3-4 [KJV]
After crossing the Red Sea, Moses led the Israelites to the Desert of Shur where for four days they couldn’t find water. When they reached Marah, they found bitter water. The Israelites complained to Moses saying, “What should we drink?”
This was their first complaint after the Lord saved them from the Egyptians. God, in His patience, responded by miraculously allowing a piece of wood thrown into the water to make it potable. What grace!
From Marah, the went to Elim, a place with 12 springs and 70 palm trees. From there, they went to the Desert of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.
It was then the whole community complained against Moses and Aaron after experiencing so much hunger. They began shouting out selfish and foolish remarks:
“3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” – Exodus 16:3 [KJV]
Surprisingly, God was so patient and gracious as He said to Moses,
“4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” – Exodus 16:4-5 [KJV]
As Moses and Aaron gave this instruction, they also told the people that they were not grumbling against them, but against the Lord. As Aaron spoke to the people, the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud came to Moses and spoke.
“11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.” – Exodus 16:11-12 [KJV]
Little did they see how gracious God had been to them. The dominant attribute of God in this story is His graciousness.
Trust God’s Provision (vv. 13-18)
“13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. 14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. 16 This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. 18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.” – Exodus 16:13-18 [KJV]
The Lord’s provision of manna and quail, according to His Word, came to pass. Manna was given in the early morning for them to gather. Take note that each person took only as much as their family needed (vv. 16-18). There was no excess or deficit. The amount was just right. Researchers also note that manna is perhaps the world’s best-known superfood because of its well-balanced ratios of proteins, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Even their protein source (quail) surrounded the camp! Scientists computed that the amount of birds would’ve totaled 1.14 billion! The Israelites gathered all of them in a day and night!
In short, God gave the Israelites not only what they needed, but the best! And they trusted God in His provision. Do you have trouble trusting God’s provision? Don’t worry. Know that He has your best interests and needs in mind.
Work with Obedience (vv. 19-21)
“19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. 21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.” – Exodus 16:19-21 [KJV]
God also gave specific instructions for manna gathering. In the heat of the sun, it would melt, so they had to grab what they needed in time. It would either melt (v. 21) or rot (v. 20). Despite Moses’ warning, some persisted in keeping it under the sun, whereupon they were not able to eat God’s blessing.
When God clearly gives us instructions, we have to be obedient to Him 100%. You wouldn’t want rotten manna, would you? What areas of your life are divine blessings, but you aren’t in complete obedience to? Time to obey God in those areas.
Keep the Sabbath Holy (vv.22-30)
“22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. 28 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.” – Exodus 16:22-30 [KJV]
So for six days, the gathering of God’s provisions continued. That is, until the seventh day, or the Sabbath. God commanded them to gather twice as much (v.22) as the other days because the seventh day would be one of rest.
Some obeyed, and some didn’t (vv. 27-28). And again, because of their disobedience, they weren’t able to gather food, as God had promised. Eventually, they learned to rest and obey (vv. 29-30).
Do you rest after a hard week’s work? Do you enjoy the fruits of your labor? Or are you a workaholic? Remember that God created rest for us to physically and spiritually be refreshed. How? By enjoying time off from physical labor! That is a sign of His grace. Accept it and rest in Him. You’ll be surprised it’ll be the best rest of your life.