Previous Exodus Bible Studies:
Exodus 16 below…
Exodus 16 Bible Study
The Israelites have been brought out through the judgements of the plagues (ch7-10), the shed blood of the lamb (ch11-12) and the waters of the Red Sea (ch13-14). They have rejoiced in song at their great salvation (ch15).
Their story is like ours. We too have been saved from judgement (Rev 15:1-4) through the blood of our Lamb, Jesus (1 Pet 1:19). In the waters of baptism we cross over from the old life of slavery into salvation (1 Cor 10:1-4). So as we learn of Israel’s predicament we are reading our own story. We too have been brought out by the LORD Jesus, heading for glory but in the meantime we have a period of testing, trial and hardship.
In Exodus 16 we begin to realize the nature of their predicament. They are history’s greatest refugee crisis with 2-3 million of them driven from their homes. They are now wandering the desert and don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Unless the LORD provides for them in miraculous ways, Israel will perish.
An African Bishop recently spoke of his Christian experience like this: “I never knew Christ was all I needed until Christ was all I had.” Can you identify with that sentiment? Have there been times of real need in your life when the LORD Jesus showed Himself to be a great Provider?
Read Exodus 16:1-18
How is the Israelites’ sin consistently described in this passage?
Can you identify with their grumbles?
What is so wrong with what they say in v3?
They accuse the LORD of wanting to kill them (this is implied by the ‘LORD’s hand’ reference).
They also completely re-imagine their time in Egypt as a time of feasting and fullness!
They accuse Moses of wanting to starve them.
If you have time, get someone to read out these other classic grumbles from the Israelites in the wilderness: Exodus 17:3; Num 11:4-6; Num 14:2-4; Deut 1:27. What do they all have in common?
Essentially the Israelites accuse the LORD and their leader Moses of wanting to do them harm and they re-imagine life apart from God as much better. Are you ever tempted to do that?
What’s the truth of the matter?
The truth is that the LORD loves them, that’s why He saved them out of Egypt. Egypt was far worse, it was not a time of feasting and fullness but slavery and genocide! And if the LORD went to all that trouble of saving them, surely He’s going to sustain them now!
Who is this grumble addressed to? (v2-3)
Moses and Aaron
Who is it who takes it personally? (v7-8)
What do we learn from this??
We might think we’re having a moan about a human leader or situation, but how often does the LORD hear and take offence?!
There are many cries of lament in the bible – in fact there’s a whole book called Lamentations and the Psalms are full of complaints addressed to God. What’s the difference between that and grumbling?
The prayers of lament are addressed to God. If we have a problem we should “take it up with the Manager”, not spread discontent among others.
How does the LORD meet this grumbling?
He rains down bread from heaven! (v4). He assembles all the people (v9ff) and you might expect them to get a walloping but instead He showers grace on the grumblers.
What do we learn about manna from these verses (you might want to look at v31-36 as well)?
Came with dew, thin flakes, name means “What is it?”, it’s bread, ‘bread from heaven’, ‘bread from the LORD’, it’s “bread of angels” (Ps 78:25), an omer (four pints) was a day’s portion, it’s white like coriander seed, tastes like honey, the Israelites eat it right up until the day they enter promised land, they keep some in a ‘time capsule’ at the heart of the tabernacle.
Why might it be significant that this bread tastes of honey?
The promised land is described repeatedly in Exodus as a land flowing with milk and honey (3:8,17; 13:5; 33:3). This is a taste of the future.
Read verses 19-36
What would happen if an Israelite hoarded more than a day’s worth?
What would happen if an Israelite tried to gather on the Sabbath?
Would you be tempted to be a hoarder or a Sabbath breaker? Both?
What lessons is the LORD teaching the Israelites through the provision of manna?
That the LORD Himself is our great Provider. If He’s all we have, He’s all we need. Daily dependence. Seeking enough for the day, but not hoarding. Not worrying about tomorrow. Trusting the LORD’s future provision and so being able to rest (Sabbath).
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He assumed that we’re all in a wilderness-type situation. So we pray “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11) What do we find difficult about that prayer? What can we remind ourselves?
In John 6 the LORD Jesus is again in a wilderness and the multitudes need feeding. So He performs the miracle with the bread and fish (v1-15). Nonetheless the people “grumble” (v41-43). Here is Jesus’ response:
Read John 6:48-51
With Exodus 16 in the background, what does it mean that Jesus is “the Bread of life”?
Manna kept you going for a day. Jesus gives eternal life.
How does Jesus provide eternal life?
On the cross He will be broken apart like bread. His death will bring us life.
As we think about our wilderness times, our temptations to grumble and our many needs, what kind of Provider do we have in the LORD Jesus?
One who doesn’t just provide things for us but who provides His very self – His body and blood. We cannot doubt that He is for us and will provide when we look to the cross.
Perhaps we could close by praying to our LORD – bringing to Him our needs and fears and trusting Him for our daily bread.
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)