Don't Go Back to Egypt
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Delivered By
Pastor Ed Dinkins
Delivered On
January 3, 2016
Central Passage
Exodus 16:1-12
HAPPY NEW YEAR - First Sunday Service

Data Commentary - Exodus 16 by Rev. John Schultz

     "When this chapter starts, the people of Israel have been on the road for exactly two months. The Passover feast had taken place on the fourteenth of the first month and they arrive at the desert of Sin on the fifteenth of the second month. Grumbling starts again. They could have commemorated their deliverance from Egypt, but they grumble instead. As a matter of fact, this time they make a comparison between the abundance of Egypt and the scarcity of life in the desert, and they come to the conclusion that slavery was much better than freedom. "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death" (vs. 3). 

     It is amazing how distorted their memory had become in such a short time. The execution of little children is never mentioned. The backbreaking labor is completely forgotten. The only thing they remember is those few minutes when they cooked and ate their food after laboring from sunrise till sunset. Evidently that is what they lived for. The vividness of this memory indicates that they probably had been starving. I remember the last year of World War II when we went through a period of severe starvation in Holland. I went to bed in the evening with the comforting thought that I would eat one slice of bread the next morning. "The pots of meat" were proof of their starvation. 

     The complaint suggests at the same time that the enemy takes better care of his victims than the Lord does of His children. There is no expectation that the Lord is going to provide. Even after the miraculous experience of Marah and the feast of abundance at Elim, the hand of God has not become a reality to them. They connect the hand of the Lord with the punishments that had rained down on the Egyptians, and they wished that they had fallen victim with their enemies. They had no inkling what the history of salvation was all about. Here is God leading them from Egypt to Canaan, and they mark their road with monuments of grumbling and resistance. 

 As usual, the problem is not what the Israelites think it is. They believe that the crisis is caused by a lack of bread. As it turns out, there was no lack of bread. For forty years the Lord would rain down on them enough bread to daily feed about two million people. Bread and meat were not the problem, the people were. The Lord says clearly that the point of it all was to test the people. The fact that their stomachs get filled in the meantime is incidental. 

     The implications of this principle are profound and far reaching. We tend to think that money or methods are the problems in the Lord's work. The monuments of prayer of the nineteenth century built by George Mueller and Hudson Taylor and Albert Simpson prove the contrary. Where people melted before the Lord, the means kept coming. It is as A.M. Bounds says in one of his books on prayer: "Men look for better methods; God looks for better men." In order to become better men, God puts us to the test. Our reaction is grumbling. But James says: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
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     The purpose of the testing in connection with the manna the Lord would provide was two-fold: God wanted the people to trust Him for the Sabbath, and He wanted them to understand that bread was not all there was for them. 

Our trouble is always with tomorrow. Even if God takes care of us today, we tend to put away reserves for tomorrow, "because you never know!" The hardest thing for us is to put our trust in the Word of God. Hence the warning of the writer to the Hebrews: "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?' "

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