|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #104, 105 and 106|
14 November, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our recent Bible Studies have led us through the Genesis and Exodus accounts of God's Great Plan which, to this point, has provided the preservation of a line of descent from Adam, the call of Abram, and the miraculous preservation of Abraham's seed through Isaac and Jacob to become the Tribes of Israel, in fulfilment of God's prophetic promises.
The Israelite experience of bondage in Egypt has been followed by the miraculous emergence of these tribes, by their armies, under the direction of Moses and through the power of their God, Yahweh (Jehovah) of Israel.
I have prepared a chart detailing the thirteen "Signs and Wonders" whereby God moved to release His people to their further destiny on the very day foretold centuries before, and providing evidence of counter-points to specific Egyptian gods and to the various insignia and ensigns of the Tribes of Israel.
If you request a copy, we will be pleased to send you one as long as the supply lasts. However, as printing, postage and handling are involved, we would naturally appreciate an appropriate donation in order to assist us to meet these costs.
We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that the main body of the descendants of ancient Israel can be found among the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today, and thus the chart may hold especial interest for such folk.
Today, we are to consider the immediate developments following Israel's release from Egypt. They have just passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea, and have seen the bodies of their Egyptian pursuers littering the shoreline.
Perhaps, to arm themselves, they have picked up from the bloated corpses the spears and shields, the daggers, the bows and arrows, and other arms which were the choicest in the Egyptian arsenal, and which Pharaoh had intended to be the means of their deaths. They have emerged free of restraints, and bearing great wealth of gold and silver, of clothing and utensils, the just payments for centuries of back wages.
They do lack some things, however. They lack the experience of freedom and a sense of self-reliance in their new wilderness circumstances. They have the evidence of the might of their God's protection against their enemies, and even the marvel of a tower of cloudy radiance which forms their shield. However, they have yet to see the love behind the power in these manifestations.
As with our former Bible Studies, we shall read the next passage of Scripture, accompanied by the insertion of appropriate comments. On our last study, we saw, in our imagination, the thrilled Israelites expressing their thanks to The Almighty God of their fathers in a passage which forms a Song of Praise. The next passage begins at Exodus 15:22 where Israel must now take up the practicalities of life after the celebration.
How often we also have had just such an experience, sometimes called "a mountain-top experience." We are ecstatic about some great victory, some great source of relief, perhaps some manifestation of God's presence with us, or some triumph of our own nature over a seemingly impossible challenge.
Then the next day, the scene is somehow drab, and all too "normal". We find that the challenge we thought to have mastered is confronting us in some new way, we have to take up the daily chores, while feeling depressed once more. We may have back-slidden in our commitment.
We might even remember the experience of Peter who had said "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death", (Luke 22:33) but who, (in Luke 22:60-61), in the high priest's hall, heard the cock crow, and realised as Christ turned and looked upon him, that he had thrice denied his Lord, even as Christ had prophesied. Does that sound familiar? Then let us follow the story as our Scriptures reveal it in Exodus 15, starting at verse 22:
22. So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
The word Marah means "bitter". Israel has just taken the first tentative steps, a three days' march, into their new life. Here we are, at the first challenge, and how do the people react? Are they ready and eager to accept responsibility? Are they independent enough to realise that life in freedom, without someone standing over them to tell them what to do, will be filled with challenges to be overcome? No! They are complainers, seeing the apparently impossible.
Only a few days previous, they had experienced another "impossible situation" presented by water, as they stood at the sea shore, apparently trapped by the Egyptian army and the water's edge; a situation which was totally overcome through God's miracle. They now find that they can't drink the bitter water of the area, so they react in a rather human way. They have not yet learned to trust God.
24. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25. And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
How often The Almighty has used the symbol of a TREE to reveal His will towards His people! In The Garden of Eden; there was the Tree of Life beside the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and thus the potential choice for freedom from sin and death.
At Mt. Moriah, the future generations of Israel who were designated and destined to be born of Isaac were about to be sacrificed; but a Ram was caught by its horns in the thicket, the symbolic Saviour substitute for the race.
At Sinai, Moses was confronted by a small tree, The Burning Bush, where he received the message to bring God's people out of bondage.
The Brass Serpent placed on the pole by Moses, as recorded in Numbers 21:9 is to heal the serpent bites in the wilderness.
The Cross, that awful "Tree" on Golgotha, will bear the body of The Lord Himself, the Saviour substituting for God's people.
In Revelation 22:1, we read the prophetic vision of a tree:
1. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Even so, here at the waters of Marah, we see this same theme in that the tree which God showed to Moses, when cast into the bitter waters, made them "sweet" so that they were healed, and the people could drink and live.
As The New Bible Commentary explains, "The lack of sweet water was a test of their trust in God for the supply of material needs. This in its turn is the basis for the statute... that trustful obedience to God's will is the basic condition of the supply of physical and spiritual health. The patient must obey his physician if he is to be healed. We read at verse 26:
26. And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
27. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
A whole library shelf of material could be prepared on the subject matter contained in the words of verse 26. Keeping God's Law is here explained to be the key to health. How many diseases might we have avoided, had we obeyed God's Laws? Our bookroom lists some references on the subject, which are available and you might like to write for a book catalogue leaflet which lists those presently available on the subject.
Although the partaking of certain foods, and abstinence from others will come immediately to mind, the ramifications pass far beyond the obvious, for even the choice of mates can affect the genetics of the offspring for generations to follow. For example, the human constitution requires certain proportions of sustenance, and certain periods of rest to avoid undue stress, and also the avoidance of certain things commonly eaten, and of certain controllable practices.
Indeed a firm trust in God's word may, itself, impart relief from a stress-filled apprehension at those things which are coming upon the earth, for, in Luke 21:28, the followers of Christ are told that at certain signal developments, they are to "look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." What that redemption comprehensively involves, we may only surmise from Scripture at this point in time, but we know that the God Who loves us enough to lay down His Own life for us will impart the best of all things to each of us at His appearing, and perfect health would certainly seem a prominent aspect of this event.
We ought, perhaps, to reserve a special talk to consider some of these ramifications, for they are many, and important. Our remaining time on today's programme does not permit us to say more than this, and to explain that books have been written which examine the subject in much greater detail. When we come to read of God's food laws, found in Leviticus 11, we shall find some guidance for those who are moved to seek God's will in that connection.
We shall continue these Biblical Studies on our next programme.
21 November, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
By now, our regular listeners will know that on these weekly programmes we, of the British-Israel-World Federation, have been presenting a sequence of Bible Studies which outline the Great Plan of The Almighty for the rescue of His Creation. We began the present series with the call of Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, and we have followed the Biblical account through the lives of Abraham's son, Isaac, and his son, Jacob, (re-named Israel in an encounter with God at the ford Jabbok). We studied how Jacob's twelve sons, the first Israelites, and their enlarging families, escaped most of the seven prophesied years of famine. They were invited to go down into Goshen, and a blessed existence amid the plenty of Egypt under the care of their brother Joseph.
Afterwards, later generations of Egyptians became their oppressors, and the Scriptural account has recently brought us to the extraction of the children of Israel out of that Egyptian bondage in the historic event known as The Exodus. This extraction has thrust these erstwhile bondsmen and women out into the wilderness and they must now learn to develop and to use the new experiences of freedom under the direction and providence of The Almighty.
The God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will now hold the Israelites in a peculiar, that is to say, a special, unique relationship, in recognition of which they will be entitled to know Him by the holy name "Yahweh", a name which, today, is generally given the slightly distorted pronunciation "Jehovah".
These children of Israel have just seen how Yahweh (Jehovah) has caused the waters of the sea to extinguish the lives of their oppressors, and yet their faith is small. At the bitter waters of Marah they complained, but God, ever faithful, provided a tree, the means of making the waters sweet. The Israelites have now rested at Elim, the name of which means "palm trees" for, according to Young's Concordance, "It had twelve fountains of water and seventy palm trees; hence its name". Now the Israelites are once more on the move, this time into the wilderness of Sin, and, becoming hungry, they complain again, as we see in today's Biblical passage, starting at Exodus 16:1.
1. And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
The children of Israel have now been free of their Egyptian bondage for well over a month, and the thrill of their new-found freedom has been exchanged for a more sober and, indeed, depressing view of their new life. We might note, as did Exodus 13:17, that their route is taking them away from the Mediterranean shore and the land of the Philistines where easiest traffic was found, but also where the inhabitants would doubtless offer opposition to their passage.
2. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3. And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
In reference to those "flesh pots", the New Bible Commentary says "Their food in Egypt had probably not been so abundant as they said, but the murmuring spirit magnified the comparison between the present and past supplies and obliterated the memory of the burdens of slavery." Now this reaction may appear, from our vantage point to be quite objectionable as we read the Biblical account today, but if we were to translate the ancient Israelites' view of the rough and stony landscape stretching out in the heat before them in terms of our own time we might equate it to the general reluctance of the majority of our own people to move into a real and practical adherence to the laws of Almighty God. Our people prefer to dismiss His laws and to use their own, thus suffering all the consequent shortcomings in their existence, rather than to accept that God knows best how to order blessings upon us. Our prospect is not physical landscape but an economic wasteland yet the feelings on viewing the one may be equated to those felt upon viewing the other.
4. Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
5. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
6. And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
7. And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8. And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
9. And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10. And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
11. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13. And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
Some comments ought to be inserted here. Did you catch the words of verse 4, "that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no"? This manna would certainly provide the answer to Israel's need for food, for God is merciful, but its provision would also be a means of testing the willingness of Israel to obey God's command regarding the keeping of a sabbath, and the keeping of that command is sadly under attack today by the masses of those who are not observant nor logical in mind.
If people vote for a seven-day business week, they are voting to lose their weekly labour-free day, and to increase their cost of living appreciably. Businesses which seek to increase profits by invading the day of rest will have no significant benefit if there is no greater total market to support the move, yet by remaining open, they thus increase their expenses by a sixth and pass these added costs along to the customers! God's law is best, and that lesson ought not to be missed. We continue at verse 16.
16. This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
19. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
22. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
24. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
Sometimes commentaries may appear to differ in opinion. Keil and Delitzsch infer from this passage "that the Israelites were not acquainted with any sabbatical observance at that time." The New Bible Commentary says "The miraculous nature of the manna is further shown by its breeding worms on the second day (22), but never on the sabbath day (24). This was to teach entire dependence on God for the supply of each day, and obedience to His law regarding the sabbath. The sabbath was already an institution, so that when the ten commandments were given it was not proposed as a new law." Perhaps the resolution may be that while the Sabbath was known by tradition from their forefathers as an institution, it was not practiced by the present generation.
25. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
27. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
28. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
29. See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
30. So the people rested on the seventh day.
31. And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
There is much which we might comment with regard to this segment of Scripture, and I want to leave some part of our meditations for our next programme. I might, however, before closing give one thought which may assist us to grasp the significance of what we have read. Jesus Christ stated, of this manna, in John 6:51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Those words are short and clear, but the meaning of that sentence goes to the heart of man's need. May it strengthen us for the week ahead, and sustain us in our daily walk. We shall continue the theme on our next broadcast.
28 November, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our present sequence of Biblical Studies has been following that portion of the Scriptural account of God's Great Plan for the revival of His creation which is recorded in Genesis and the early chapters of the Book of Exodus. It has brought before us the wonderful story from the call of Abram down to the Exodus emergence of the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and into the challenge of a wilderness experience with their God, the Almighty Yahweh (Jehovah) of Israel.
Only a little over a month has passed, and already the fresh exhilaration of freedom has, more than once, lapsed into murmurings of discontent as the harsh realities of wilderness life has raised their concern for the future. They were hardly three days into the wilderness of Shur when lack of fresh water at Marah caused audible discontent.
They have now left behind the wells and palm trees of their stop at Elim and reached the wilderness of Sin. Here their voices are again raised in harsh words against Moses and Aaron on remembering the relative abundance of food in Egypt, in contrast to their present diet. It would appear that they were perhaps more concerned with variety of food than with stark hunger, for we should remember that they still had with them those flocks and herds which accompanied them out of Goshen.
In answer to their murmurings, God had told Moses in Exodus 16:4 "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no." Thus, we observe that the relative stringency of diet was a means whereby The Almighty God of their fathers would test their resolve to obey Him.
God's answer had been the provision of quails in the evening, and in the morning, the appearance of manna which appeared with the morning dew. The quail were migrating birds which were possibly partridges, so tired by their flight that they hovered near the ground about the camp of Israel in the evening and might be easily caught, as several commentaries suggest. I wonder if perhaps God had allowed a strong headwind to develop which had forced these birds to exhaustion right over the camp.
The manna is described in Exodus 16:14 in these words: "And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground." To this, verse 31 adds: "and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey." Keil and Delitzsch draw attention to Numbers 11:7 where the manna is further described as having, in their words, "the appearance of bdellium, a fragrant and transparent resin, resembling wax."
They explain that this daily nourishment was probably like the deposit beneath certain tamarisks, but they also note that, even though tamarisk trees might have flourished in greater numbers in the past than at the present time, it would seem that this manna was a special variant of such, for Numbers 11:8 explains that "the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil." The commentary indicates that ordinary tamarisk residue could not be thus treated.
Keil and Delitzsch comment, "But if these points of agreement suggest a connection between the natural manna and that of the Scriptures, the differences, which are universally admitted, point with no less distinctness to the miraculous character of the bread of heaven. This is seen at once in the fact that the Israelites received the manna for 40 years, in all parts of the desert, at every season of the year, and in sufficient quantity to satisfy the wants of so numerous a people." We pick up today's passage at Exodus 16:32.
32. And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
33. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
34. As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
35. And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
36. Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.
If the manna which was provided to the children of Israel had merely been of the natural sort of residue which is seasonally found at places in the area, we should have to ask ourselves why God would require that an omer sample of it must be "kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness", for it was, as the account explains, "laid up before the Testimony to be kept."
The manna was always available to God's people throughout their wilderness wanderings, and thus is God's provision for our spiritual needs likewise always available to us. As the manna of the wilderness was gathered and apportioned daily, so the Christian must retain identity with Jesus Christ day by day. As the manna had to be gathered by individual effort on the part of every person in that multitude, so we, as individuals, must read the Scriptures and prayerfully meditate thereon in order to gain the benefit of a blessing therefrom. As manna held the taste of honey, so God's word is as honey to our spiritual revival. Psalm 19:9-10 puts it this way: "the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." Psalm 119:103 says "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Any treatment of this passage of scripture which did not proceed to connect the miracle of the manna with the words of Our Lord found in John 6 would be incomplete. In that chapter, St. John records that Jesus had been followed by a great multitude to a mountain near the shore of the Sea of Tiberias where they had arrived hungry. Matthew 16:21 explains that about five thousand men, besides women and children, received there the miracle meal created from the five barley loaves and two small fishes which a lad offered to Jesus.
Biblical Archaeology Review of May-June, 1984 contains a well-illustrated article concerning the remains of a late-fourth or early fifth-century A.D. Byzantine church located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, less than two miles south of Capernaum. In it, Archaeologists have restored a colourful mosaic floor portraying the loaves, each marked by a cross, assembled in a basket, and flanked by the two fishes, to commemorate that event. The original church was apparently placed to mark the site of the miracle.
In John 6:26-58, when asked for a sign, Jesus proclaimed Himself, in no uncertain terms, as the bread of life (v. 35). The passage is too long to read in our remaining time. However, it will repay the honest researcher to look it up, for in that passage we realise, as did the disciples, that the miracle manifested in the provision of manna in the wilderness was a symbolic foretaste of the manner by which a Christian accepts the person of Jesus into his or her own experience by spiritually "feeding upon Him" and thus becomes possessed of the promise of everlasting life.
Christ says, in verse 44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." What a promise! What a glorious expectation lies before us if we, in the sense described in John 6, feed daily upon the nature and person of The Lord Jesus Christ, as the Israelites of ancient days depended upon their daily supply of manna for sustenance in the wilderness!
Christ's message appeared to fascinate some of His followers, and yet be quite repellant to others. It most definitely served to divide the multitude into factions which were for or against Him. No doubt He planned it to be so. He wants no half-hearted believers.
Perhaps, in closing, we just have time to quote John 6:47-51 because it conveys an essential truth of the Christian Gospel. The multitude had received the miracle feeding of barley loaves and fishes, and had followed Jesus to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Addressing them, Jesus said:
47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
48. I am that bread of life.
49. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Could words be plainer, or the offer more direct? It is, in truth, an offer which the wise cannot refuse! We shall continue our studies next week.
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