Exodus 16-18: Bread from Heaven
February 6, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The story begins with more grumbling (16:1-3). Israel looks back with false idealized memories of Egypt where in their minds they at least had enough to eat. God graciously answers their ungracious request and sends both “manna” and “quail” (16:4-15, 31). The manna in the wilderness is fulfilled with Christ, the true Bread from heaven, in John’s Gospel (John 6:51). They were not to take more of the manna than needed (16:16-30), but to trust God for daily provision. “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11) is the prayer of the well-taught disciple. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34). Trust God for provision today, O child of God, and put your trust in Christ, in the true Bread from heaven.
More grumbling (17:1-3), and more gracious provision from the Lord (17:4-7). This time the symbolism of his provision is once more deliberate and powerful. They have sinned by grumbling. And where comes the atonement for that sin? God himself will bear their sin—the Rock is Christ (1 Cor. 10:4), and when the rock was struck, God in Christ is taking the punishment that his people deserve that they might drink from the rock, and be forgiven and walk in the favor of God despite their grumbling.
Whatever the sin, the remedy is the struck and beaten and crucified Jesus: trust in him, lean on him, drink from him, and your sins will be healed, forgiven, and you will stand righteous. Such graciousness does not lead to carelessness with the required holiness of a disciple, but gives us power to start again and motivation to serve him. He who has done this for me, what will I not do for him? He has my self, my life, my all.
Israel defeats Amalek by the hand of Joshua, through the prayers of Moses, according to the sovereign power of God (17:8-16). “The LORD is my Banner” is the lesson: when we are faced with apparently overwhelming odds, a battle that seems as if it cannot be won, make it our principle to go first to prayer and continue in prayer. More things are won through prayer than this world dreams of. What a person is on his knees, that he is and no more. Today you may be so busy, but like John Wesley, recognize that because you are so busy, you therefore must spend a significant amount of time in prayer! Why? The Lord is your banner, your strength, and your victory.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, comes along to Moses and brings Moses’ wife and children with him (18:1-7). He is delighted to see all that God has done for God’s people by rescuing them from Egypt (18:8-12). Sometimes it takes a “priest of Midian” (18:1), perhaps less-tutored in the things of God than we are, to help us realize just how amazing it is what God has done for us! The people of God were grumbling, but the priest of Midian saw the real truth. This was a miraculous, supernatural, astonishing work of God! Praise God!
Jethro, though, having observed Moses’ organizational structure—or lack thereof—is somewhat horrified and gives him sage advice (18:13-26). It is well to listen to counsel, for through many counselors, victory is assured, and there is practical advice about organizing leadership and institutions that can be learnt from a priest of Midian. Essentially, Jethro is schooling Moses in the art of delegation. Delegation does not mean abdication; Moses is still responsible, still in charge, and issues that are of significant difficulty will still bubble up to him. But he is no longer doing everything himself, but has built a team so that the ministry can multiply.
Individuals are limited, but a team of individuals—when cohesive, loving, and connected through a joint commitment to a joint mission—can do far more than any one individual could do. It requires mutual submission, the ability to let one person lead and for another to follow, security and wisdom from the leadership, and grace all around. Many ministries get stuck because they cannot figure out how Jethro’s model of delegation applies to their situation. Delegate, don’t abdicate, and build a team around a common commitment to God’s Word.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."