Sunday, March 11, 2012
Exodus 16:17-20 Life or Death?
"The Israelites did as they were told;
some gathered much, some little.
And when they measured it by the omer,
he who gathered much did not have too much,
and he who gathered little did not have too little.
Each one gathered as much as he needed.
Then Moses said to them,
'No one is to keep any of it until morning.'
However, some of them paid no attention to Moses;
they kept part of it until morning,
but it was full of maggots and began to smell.
So Moses was angry with them.
Exodus 16:17-20 (NIV)
At first the Israelites obeyed the Lord's command. Some were able to gather much of the manna, while others worked more slowly. However, after they had gathered the manna, it was measured out by the omer (about 2 quarts/liters), and each household was given an omer of manna for each person in their tent. In this way, no one had too much, and no one starved.
So far, so good. When they obeyed the LORD, the Israelites prospered and all their needs were met. However, when Moses instructed the people that they should not keep any of the manna until the next morning, some disobeyed. The disobedient were soon corrected by the maggot-y leftovers, which began to smell.
Moses was understandably angry at this rather pungeant evidence of their sin. Also, I guess it was no secret as to which of the households had disobeyed, for their tents would doubtless have stunk for some time afterwards.
There is also a bit of a lesson here, as in 'obedience = life' and 'disobedience = death and decay'. This is similar to their escape through the sea, where the Israelites obeyed God and escaped death, while the rebellious Pharaoh and his army drowns in the sea. It is a lesson which they (and we) need to be reminded of over and over again.