God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 4 - Exodus 16-18: God Tests Israel's Loyalty

Today’s Reading: Exodus 16-18

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God is testing to see if Israel will follow Him.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

The Israelites grumbled because they had no food. God instituted a test telling them to collect manna every morning and save none of it overnight. On Fridays they were to gather enough for two days. Saturday would be a day of rest. A few did not listen. Their manna went bad overnight. Some tried to gather on Saturday and found none.
God also gave the people water when they grumbled.
Amalek fought Israel and were wiped off the map.
Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, was impressed by God's greatness and praised God. He also helped Moses establish courts to judge the people.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God tested the people with the daily manna collection.

It seems almost petty that God would require the people to jump through those hoops—go out and collect every morning, collecting enough for that day only, saving none of it for the next day, twice as much on Fridays, none on Saturdays—just so they could survive in the wilderness. But God is explicit. These are not instructions. They are a test. He is testing their faithfulness. He is preparing them for the Law of Moses. God uses mundane (sometimes unrelated) tasks to test our willingness to His goal of setting all things right on the earth.
I think of things Christians are asked to do: praying without ceasing, meeting with the saints on Sunday, taking the Lord's Supper every Sunday, giving as we have been given. These may seem like small things—even non-essential parts of God setting all things right on the earth. But they are God's way of testing whether we are fully committed to Him setting all things right on the earth. This is one reason I encourage people to attend worship on Sundays (as I hope you did yesterday).

The daily manna collection engrained reliance on God.

At first, the manna collection seems silly. If God is going to provide for the Israelites he should simply put the correct amount in their bowls and make it simple. Why would they need to go out every day? Couldn't God create a manna which lasted weeks? It's unnecessary work. But upon closer inspection, the daily collection provides the people with a lesson—God cares for you and will provide for you. What an amazing way to teach a people to rely on God. This lasted 40 years! Every day God would provide for them or they would starve. There wasn't a third option. God uses everyday tasks to help us be fully reliant on Him.

The Amalekites fought Israel and God punished them with annihilation.

This is a short, quick, and to-the-point story. The Amalekites fought Israel and Israel defeated them. But God makes an interesting proclamation that He is at war with the Amalekites for fighting His chosen people. God is at war with any group that would harm his people.

Jethro, not a priest of Israel, praises God for what He did for Israel.

Blessed be God who has delivered you from the power of Egypt and Pharaoh, who has delivered his people from the oppression of Egypt. Now I know that God is greater than all gods because he's done this to all those who treated Israel arrogantly. (18:10-11, The Message)
God brought Israel out of Egypt to show His mercy and greatness to the world. Jethro provides the first example of this coming into fruition.

Jethro helped Moses delegate judging the people by turning it over to well-qualified men.

I won't get into the managerial parts of the passage since many others do. What I want to point out is that he encourages Moses to look for "men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible" (18:21, The Message) The New American Standard Bible puts it this way, "men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain." We should definitely use this standard when choosing leaders, whether political, religious, or organizational. Instead of using seniority or longevity, what should be important is character.

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