Monday, 27 January 2014

(28) January 28: Exodus 16-18 & Matthew 19:16-30

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how God is preparing Israel to receive his law.

To ponder:
Moses’ faith is commended for preferring mistreatment with God’s people to “the pleasures of sin” and “treasures of Egypt” (Heb 11v24-27). But just a month after the Exodus, “grumbling” and pining for the food of Egypt marks out Israel. Despite witnessing God’s powerful provision, they
display disgruntled unbelief. So do we? Our call is to do “everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2v14).                              
            God’s promise of “raining down bread from heaven,” and even providing meat is astonishing (16v4, 11). With immense patience, he is again going to show it was he who redeemed Israel. But his instructions about gathering will test their readiness to obey.
            God displays his glory in the cloud (perhaps as in 19v16). This affirms who is about to provide. And yes, he gives in abundance (16v13-15) - the manna for their entire 40 years in the desert. An omer is to be stored in the ark of the covenant when built, to remember this (16v31-35). Generally Israel collected as told (16v17). But some didn’t, angering Moses and God (v20, 28). The instructions, especially regarding the Sabbath teach the people how important obeying God’s law and remembering God and his acts on the Sabbath will be (v28).
            Jesus is the bread that will sustain us until we are raised to enjoy our “land.” His instruction is for utter commitment described as “feeding” on him. Like Israel, many find this instruction too much and disobey it (Jn 6v3-35, 53-70).
            Israel haven’t learnt their lesson (17v1-2). Now they “test God,” wanting him again to prove he is “among” them (17v7). Once more, in grace, God patiently provides, stressing his presence: “I will stand there before you by the rock.” They are now at “Horeb” – the vicinity of Mount Sinai (3v1). Importantly, God had said the sign of his presence with Moses was that he would eventually bring the people here (3v1, 12).
            Paul writes that Israel were “baptized” into Moses in the cloud and sea. With the manna and water in mind, he even says they “ate the same spiritual food” and “drank the same spiritual drink” as we do in communion (10v1-4, 14f). His point seems to be that God’s presence was Christ’s presence. So, whether one of faith or not, the people’s response to God through these events was actually a response to Christ!
            Like Melchizedek, Jethro is an upright Gentile. As God intended in the Exodus, he “hears” of what God did and honours him. But Moses plays his part as witness too (18v8). Jethro’s delight, praise, confession of God’s supremacy, offering of sacrifices and fellowship with God and the elders surely displays true faith (and importance). It looks to the inclusion of Gentiles through the witness of us as God’s people.
            Moses had previously sent his wife and sons to Jethro (probably to protect them). The repetition of the sons names remind us that Israel are now aliens yet saved by God (18v3-4). And they need government in order to receive God’s law and become a kingdom. This comes not by command from God but wisdom given Jethro: Moses is to teach the law and the people bring their harder disputes to him. However he must delegate for lesser cases, appointing judges over fifties, hundreds and thousands. This would become the pattern for elders in Israel and then in the church (Tit 1v7-9). They are not just to teach but be consulted for wisdom.

Praying it home:
Praise God for spiritually sustaining us in Christ, and especially as we look to him at the Lord’s Supper. Pray for your minister to be faithful and wise in his teaching and counsel.

Thinking further:
The desert of “Sin” has nothing to do with “sin” as disobedience. Quail migrate over the desert. God’s provision for Israel may have been through them falling through exhaustion at exactly the time Israel needed them. The miraculous nature of the manna is seen in it always being just the right amount. In fact, it is bread-like and sweet, yet melts away in the sun (16v21). Moreover, it only keeps for an extra day on the Sabbath, but can still be stored long term as a reminder in the ark of the covenant when it is built (16v32-34).

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