When the Israelites were in Egypt they were slaves. They were beaten and abused. They worked seven days a week for many many long hours each day. The dynamic of being Pharoah’s slaves was that they worked each and every day for him. In order for that to take place Pharoah would need to feed them and give them water. The problem with the Israelites is that in their sinful condition they twisted this to make it seem like they were given food and water for free. Yes, it is true they did not have to buy it…but it was far from free. It cost them their freedom and in many cases their lives. The reality was that they worked for Pharoah for free, they were enslaved and they suffered greatly.
The sinner can twist the truth and create, albeit a false reality to make things seem different than they really are. Part of God’s judgement against sin is He gives them a warped mind; a depraved mind, a mind that takes the abnormal and makes it seem ordinary. A mind that cannot or will not discern truth and facts and what’s real but rather lives in a made-up fantasy world where the sinner tries to create a reality that includes their sin as normal. They do this by feeding off of one another. The more people they can get sinning the same sin and affirming it as the norm the more they feel free from God’s ultimate judgement.
Romans 1:18-32) tell us how God’s judgement works…make no mistake we are under God’s just and righteous judgement.
They twisted their reality to make slavery seem better than freedom. They twisted their reality to make it seem like being with God was worse than being owned by Pharoah. They did not want to follow and obey God. As we learned last week, the entire congregation grumbled against God.
Even in their grumbling, God was going to show them His grace. He would feed them and He would feed them even what they craved…meat and bread. While God would supply food, He was still in charge and He had rules for them to follow.
While they worked non-stop seven days a week for Pharoah, here their work consists of gathering the food that God has supplied for them. God is going to give them one day per week of rest, called the Sabbath.
It is important to note that the practice of the Sabbath Day comes before the 4th command in Exodus 20; before God gives Israel the Ten Commandments. This is an important point and an important practice for God’s people to observe, a day of rest.
1. The Sabbath Day Miracle (16:22-30)
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’ ” 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”
27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
Here we see another miracle of the manna. Normally, they were to go out each morning and gather whatever they could eat that day. They ate it but could not keep it overnight because the next morning, it was spoiled and filled with worms. Some of the Israelites found this out the hard way because they refused to listen to God.
However, they were commanded to do just that very thing the day before the Sabbath. So, the day before they gather two omers each, one for that day and one for the Sabbath Day. They prepared the manna any way they wanted for both days. Then on the Sabbath the manna did not spoil and did not have worms. God did not give them manna on the Sabbath Day, on that day they were to eat the manna from the previous day and rest and worship God on the Sabbath Day.
Exodus 20:8–11 (ESV)
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
By the time they had received the Ten Commandments they were already keeping the fourth one…Remember the Sabbath Day…
The Sabbath is a special day. It is a day of rest and a day to be dedicated to God. Why is the Sabbath different? It goes back not only to the event of the manna but goes all the way back to creation itself.
Genesis 2:1–3 (ESV)
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
The pattern is shown by God. He rested so we who are made in His image are to rest.
We should also notice that God rested on the Sabbath Day with the Israelites because on that day there was no manna given. God rested. We could say six days God would supply manna but on the seventh day He rested from all His labor.
The question that usually comes up is…what about Christians today? Is the Sabbath Day completely obsolete because it’s been fulfilled in Christ? Or do we get a day of rest also?
It’s important that we see that a day of rest is not just for the Jews. We too have a day of rest. A day of rest shows our humanity and our being image bearers.
Colossians 2:16–17 (ESV)
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
So, because the Sabbath Day of rest was a shadow and not the reality, the reality being found in Christ, Paul tells the Church to not let someone make you fit into their mold of legalism concerning the Sabbath or the day of rest since ultimately, we find eternal rest in Jesus.
Because of this truth, it did not take the Church long to acknowledge that Christ is our Sabbath rest so we will honor Jesus and rest on the Lord’s Day. Here we are not under legalism but under grace.
God stopped supplying manna on the Sabbath Day. They did not want to take a Sabbath Day because…
27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none.
Theirs was almost a forced Sabbath and they didn’t want to take it.
For us, we are to set aside a special day called the Lord’s Day to rest and to worship. The Lord’s Day is our day of rest.
What we should understand about the Israelites is that they did not trust God’s Word. When He said gather one day’s worth they tried to gather more and when He said gather more the day before the Sabbath and rest on that day, they went out to gather and found none. They did not believe God and did not trust God. Whatever God said to do they did the opposite.
For us, the challenge with the Sabbath is to think we could make more money or get more done if we worked on Sundays. Do we trust God to provide for us and to give us enough time to do what we need to?
When I was in Bible College, I worked for a pharmacist. When I started, he was open seven days a week. After about a year or so, he asked me to pray for him whether or not he should close his business on Sundays, they opened about 1pm on Sundays. I did pray and we prayed together about the issue. I asked him one day, what his concerns were and what he thought God wanted him to do. His concerns were that Sundays were a big day of revenue and he would miss out on that. Yet he said he thought God wanted him to close on Sundays. So, he did. In a wonderful act of God, he told me that after six months of being closed on the Lord’s Day he had not missed out on any revenue, in fact he said we are making more by honoring God on the Lord’s Day than when we worked on the Lord’s Day.
2. The Grace of God in the Sabbath Rest (16:31-33)
31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’
The day of rest is a wonderful gift from God. When you think about it, why would anyone not want a day to relax?
Here’s God’s recounting of these events…
Ezekiel 20:6–14 (ESV)
6 On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. 7 And I said to them, ‘Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.’ 8 But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. 9 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. 12 Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. 13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned.
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them. 14 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.
God was angry at their disobedience for the sake of His name. He showed mercy for the sake of His name. They were unwilling to follow Him and obey His commands…even when He had promised life to them if they would obey.
Resting on the Sabbath was one of the marks of God’s people. This would distinguish them from all the nations around them. Pharoah did not give Israel a day of rest. God did but they did not obey. Every week God desired the Israelites to rest and remember Him.
Let’s move forward through time to us, the NT Church.
The OT Sabbath has been transformed from the last day to the first day of the week which we call the Lord’s Day. The OT Sabbath looked back to the Exodus and to creation and when they looked forward to their rest, they looked forward to the day they would enter the Promised Land where they would rest from their travelling.
For us we look back to all the OT signs and shadows that pictured the Sabbath. We understand that our Sabbath is found in Jesus Christ.
Matthew 11:27–30 (ESV)
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
We do not need to work for salvation or our eternal rest. Jesus tells us to come to Him by faith, believing that He has paid for our sin and trust Him and you will enter into eternal rest. Beloved, you will have an eternal rest, and eternal Sabbath in Christ.
So, when we celebrate the Lord’s Day as those who have entered into the “rest for our souls”, we look forward to that day when Christ returns and our eternal rest will be made a reality for us.
Hebrews 4:9–11 (ESV)
9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
So, beloved our weekly Lord’s Day, our day of rest is the day to reflect on all Christ has done, His work on our behalf to grant us rest in Him. We also look forward to His return.
John Newton once wrote referring to the Lord’s Day…The day of all the week the best emblem of our eternal rest.
3. A Jar of Manna to Remember (16:33-36)
” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)
Joshua 5:11–12 (ESV)
11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.