And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin…
They said one to another, what is this? (marg.) for they wist not what it was (Exodus 16:15). Introduction: - Trace the journey from Elim to the sea (Numbers 33:10); and thence to the wilderness of Sin; and give a thoroughly good exegetical exposition of the facts of the manna story. It would be well also to show the supernatural character of the manna; and, at the same time, that the manna supernatural was not unlike (and yet unlike also) the manna natural of the desert of to-day; that God, in a word, did not give the food of either Greenland or Australia in the Arabian wilderness. The spiritual lessons of the miracle move on two levels, one higher than the other. There is a body, and a soul: food for the one, and for the other. There are then in the manna story truths concerning Divine providence, and also touching Divine grace. Hence two homilies on the manna. This on the manna of providence.
I. BODILY NEED IS AN APPEAL TO GOD. Before Israel articulately prayed, its need cried: so now with twelve hundred millions of men. No man "gets his own living," but God gives it. Imagine one famine round the world, and every living thing would become dumb and dead. The world's need is one majestic monotone of prayer.
II. THE ANSWER IS FULL AND FREE. No stint in that desert - no stint now. A picture of the fulness with which God ever gives bread. There has never been such an event as universal famine. Psalm 104:21-28.
III. THERE IS MYSTERY IN THE ANSWER. Note the question of the text, and the wonder of the people, which was never relieved through all the forty years. So with bread to-day. A great mystery! A common thing to common minds; and perhaps to uncommon minds, that would like, as scientists, to bow all mystery out of the universe. But as there was mystery in the manna, so is there in every grain of corn. No scientist could produce one, were he to try for fifty years. Why? Because the secret of life is a secret of God; and the creation of organization lies in his own power alone.
IV. THE BLAME OF WANT IS NOT WITH GOD. The question arises: if God hears the moaning of the world's need, and gives answer, why is there so much want? Murmuring against Moses and Aaron, Israel murmured against the Lord; so we, grumbling against secondary causes, may be arraigning the First Cause. But the blame lies not there. Political economy might give answer to the question: - Why want? But behind its answers lie deeper causes - all summed up in the one word sin - not only the folly and sin (improvidence, drunkenness, etc. etc.) of the individual, but of all the ages, that is to say, self-centredness (the root principle of sin), forming and solidifying customs and institutions, which have for their effect the oppression and privation of millions. The instances are numberless.
V. But if all the heritage of sin were to disappear, MAN MUST WORK. Israel must gather manna. Here enforce, not only the dignity of work, but the Christian duty thereof. The idle, whether in high life or low, are the dangerous classes. If exempted from toil for bread, all the more obligation to labour for the good of man to the glory of God.
VI. YET - THERE MUST BE SABBATH.
VII. A HINT AGAINST MERE HOARDING. Distinguish between extravagance, a duo providence, and hoarding after a miserly fashion. The via media here, as elsewhere, the right ethical path.
VIII. The manna story gives us THE TRUE THEORY OF LIFE. See the view of Moses as to the purpose of the manna, in the light of experience, after the lapse of forty years, in Deuteronomy 8:3. (comp. Matthew 4:4). Man is to live, not for that which is lowest in him, but for that which is highest. Life is to be DEPENDENCE UPON GOD; 1. - For leading. 2: - For support. This was the object of the giving of the manna. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: They took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to 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.