December 29 – Exodus 16:1-30


Passage Intro

The sermon at Downtown this Sunday was on Genesis 2:1-3, but in discussion this week we’ll turn to Exodus 16, which should provide a story-line and a little more content for discussion. Here we pick up at what is, for some, a familiar spot in the story of God and his people. Israel is making her way through the wilderness, headed for the Promised Land, and they get hungry. They complain about how, back in Egypt, they used to sit around eating meat and bread to the full. What a gross misrepresentation of their situation! Did they really do a lot of sitting around while the Egyptians “ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves”? (Exodus 1:13)

But God gives them a better story, one in which Israel doesn’t have to eat bread in slavery, one in which God himself rains miracle bread on them. That’s at least the starting point of the story in Exodus 16. But where God goes with the story takes a turn. Pretty quickly you realize that he wasn’t only interested in feeding them; he also used this opportunity to institute a whole new way in which his people would work to feed themselves. For six days he provided bread for them and sent them out to collect it, reminding Israel of who truly provides for them. But then on the seventh day he asked them to stop, to cease from their gathering, and to rest in a holy Sabbath unto him.

We see in this story that that’s hard for the Israelites to grasp. They go out on the seventh day looking for bread even though God told them to rest. It’s pretty hard for us to grasp too. We might not be going out to collect manna, but we have things about which we like to be busy, work that feels all-important and all-consuming of our time. It’s hard for us to lay down these things too, to rest from our work. But in our keeping the Sabbath God is interested in reminding us of our freedom from slavery, of his provision in our work and rest, and of the goodness of his presence. Most of us could use this same correction, to rest unto God and experience true rest for our souls.

Questions for Discussion

• Can someone read Exodus 16:1-30 for us?

• What stood out to you from this passage?

• What can this passage tell us about God’s thoughts on work and rest?

• What about this passage was convicting to you?

• Look at verse 23. What do you think it means to Sabbath “to the Lord”?

• Looking back to Christmas, how do you think Jesus’ birth relates to God’s desires for our rest?

• Looking ahead to 2020, what are some ways you want to grow in resting “to the Lord”?