Saturday, March 10, 2012

Exodus 16:9-16 Manna (What is it?)

"Then Moses told Aaron, 'Say to the entire Israelite community,
"Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling." '

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community,
they looked toward the desert,
and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.

The LORD said to Moses, 'I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.
Tell them, "At twilight you will eat meat,
 and in the morning you will be filled with bread.
Then you will know that I am the LORD your God." '

That evening quail came and covered the camp,
and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.
When the dew was gone,
thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, 'What is it?'
For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.
This is what the LORD has commanded:
'Each one is to gather as much as he needs.
Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.' "

Exodus 16:9-16 (NIV)
Moses told Aaron to assemble the entire Israelite community before the LORD.  While Aaron was still in the process of telling them, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud out toward the desert.  This was the same cloud that had shielded the Israelites from the direct presence of the Holy God, the One who had led the way through the desert and stood between the Israelites and the approaching Egyptian army.

They must have been scared to death.  They knew in their hearts that Moses was correct, and that they had indeed been grumbling against the LORD when they complained to Moses and Aaron.  God had allowed them to pass safely through the Sea, while bringing that same sea upon the Egyptians in a deadly devastation.  Now, what might He do to them, after their ungrateful murmuring?

However, the LORD had a message of mercy.  He had indeed heard their grumbling, but He chose to overlook it for the moment.  He brought news of a coming feast.  At twilight they would eat meat, and in the morning they would be filled with bread.  This would be one more proof that He was their covenant-keeping God who was caring for them and meeting their every need.

Quail covered the camp that evening, and in the morning, thin flakes appeared on the desert floor around the perimeter of the camp.  Just as we would, the Israelites came over to look at the flakes and said, "What is it?"  In fact, 'manna' means 'what is it?' -- so that was what the Israelites called it. (see Exodus 16:31)
Moses explained to the people that this manna was the bread which the LORD had promised to give them.  He told them that the Lord had instructed them to gather as much as they needed, which was an omer (about two quarts/liters) per person.

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