Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sermon on Exodus 16

Exodus 16:2-18 (ESV)
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, [3] and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
[4] Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. [5] On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily." [6] So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, "At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, [7] and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?" [8] And Moses said, "When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him— what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord."
[9] Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, 'Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.' " [10] And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. [11] And the Lord said to Moses, [12] "I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.' "
[13] In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. [14] And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. [15] When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. [16] This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.' " [17] And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. [18] But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.

"I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.' "
It is sort of a strange thing. The people are grumbling against the Lord’s prophets. Against Moses and Aaron. God considers it grumbling against him. This happens still today when people chafe at this or that in God’s word. The temptation is to think that these are but the word’s of men that can be ignored. Pastors often find themselves at wits end when they are trying to be faithful to God’s word and people just won’t hear it. Try discussing baptism with a Baptist, the Lords’ Supper with a Methodist, or the sixth commandment with a young couple shacked up, or any aged couple these days. For some reason God’s word can never mean what it says if someone has it in them to disagree with what it says. All the sudden the Bible becomes out dated, and despite the fact that the hermeneutical rules of allowing scripture to interpret scripture are fairly straight forward, the texts become ancient documents that weren’t meant for today’s people. Somehow adultery and murder are different today then back then. Oh well.
The people complained and God heard. He answers as if it were a prayer, and not a complaint. I wonder how many times God has done that for me. Heard my complaint as a prayer for help. God hadn’t as they accused him, brought the people out in the wilderness to die, but that they might realize upon whom they depended for life. One might have expected him to destroy them with hell fire and brimstone. If I were writing the story, that is how I would have taken the story. I’m human that way. When people complain about something I say or do, my knee jerk reaction is to respond in anger. I think most of us are that way. But not God. He responds by giving them what they complained they lacked. He sends quail into the camp in the evening, and bread from heaven in the morning. And by this they know that he is the Lord.
We know he is the Lord, not by his wrath, but by his grace and mercy, he is feared because with him there is forgiveness. It is grace and forgiveness that bring about faith and trust, not the fear of wrath. We know we deserve wrath. It drives us away from God. But God approaches us with forgiveness, forgiveness in his Son Jesus Christ, the true bread from heaven. True bread because by him we live, the very word of God, Just as it is written that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. So we live not on the daily bread that God gives us, not on that alone, but by the very words of God, which we do not grumble against but gladly receive, study, inwardly digest, his law and his gospel. Because it is with his word that he not only convicts us of our sin, but forgives it also.

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