Depend on God’s Powerful Provision

Dr. Steve Viars June 7, 2020 Exodus 16:1-36
Outline

Psalm 78:24 - He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them food from heaven.

3 truths that help us trust God to meet our needs

I. Avoid the Sin of Grumbling that Too Easily Characterizes the People of God

Psalm 86:15 - But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

Exodus 16:2 - The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

A. Even when the Lord had recently blessed

Exodus 15:1-2 - Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him.

Exodus 15:11 - Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?

B. Causes you to misrepresent the past and exaggerate the future

Exodus 16:3 - The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

“Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong.” Tim Keller

C. Understand that grumbling ultimately is a complaint against God’s character

Exodus 16:7 - …and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, for He hears your grumblings against the Lord…

Exodus 16:8 - …the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.

Philippians 2:12-13 - …work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:14 - Do all things without grumbling or disputing…

II. Marvel at the Way God Provides for His Children

A. As an opportunity to magnify His glory

Exodus 16:9 - Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.’”

Exodus 16:10 - It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

B. In a way that fills His people with good things

Exodus 16:12 - …in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.

Exodus 16:13-14 - …in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.

Exodus 16:31 - …it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.

John 6:5 - Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”

John 6:7 - Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”

John 6:12-13 - When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

John 6:11 - Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

John 6:27 - Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.

John 6:31 - Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.”

John 6:32-35 - Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…”

III. Pass the Test that Often Accompanies Blessing

A. Choose to believe that God’s provision will be enough

Exodus 16:4 - Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.

Exodus 16:20 - But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.

Exodus 16:27-28 - It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?”

Exodus 16:30 - So the people rested on the seventh day.

Exodus 16:35 - The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

B. Look for ways to memorialize what God has done for you

Exodus 16:32 - Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”

- Have you ever been in a situation where you had a number of items to pack, but some kind of limit on either the number or the weight allowed?...

- If you’ve been at our church for any period of time, you’ve heard me talk about how my dad and several of his friends from the Army would take a fishing trip once a year to Canada, and when I reached the age of 10…they started allowing me to come along…[Pic#1]

- at some point when I was about 16…they decided to try one of these fly-in trips…[Pic#2]…

- where we would drive up to northern Ontario and then board a plane that flew you to a lake not accessible by car…[Pic#3]…

- those were incredible trips that provided a whole new series of memories for me…[pic#4]…

- like the first year when I went down to the dock early in the morning to look at the plane and I came back to the little hotel where we had stayed the night before and reported that the plane I saw must have been for the cargo because there were no seats…

- so I explained they must have a second plane for the passengers to fly in…

- let’s just say I was wrong about that analysis…there were these little metal benches that folded down and that’s what you sat on…kind-of…[Pic#5]

- then as we were taxi-ing away from the dock and the pilot slid open his little window and yelled back to his employees on the shore --- “hey, did you guys put gas in this thing?”…

- but a big part of the problem was weight…if I remember correctly, you were only allowed 50 pounds of cargo per man…but that included all your fishing equipment, and all the food you needed for a week…

- and there wasn’t a Meijer right down the road…so if you forgot it…you did without till they returned in 7 days and hauled you out of there…

- so invariably, we’d be down on the dock looking at our overweight supplies and decided what was going and what was staying…

- and on more than one occasion I wondered if my dad loved me more than that can of Vienna Sausages …we were going to have to leave behind…

- but we’ve all been there, right?...at the airport counter, or with a moving van – you just can’t fit it all in…

- well, let’s say you had a box, made out of acacia wood…it was 3’ 9” long, 2’ 3” wide, and 2’ high…and you could only fit three items in it that reminded you about the nature of your relationship with the Lord…

- what would you place in this Ark of the Covenant…this representation of the person and majesty of God?...probably the 2 tables of stone containing the 10 commandments, and perhaps Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded…and what else?...a golden jar of manna…

- to memorialize what the Psalmist would later say - Psalm 78:24 - He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them food from heaven.

- what lesson was there for the people of God…and what lesson is there for people like you and me?...Depend on God’s Powerful Provision…

- with that in mind, please open you Bible to Exodus chapter 16…

- as we were planning this series on Overcoming Fear and Worry…we wanted to devote several Sundays throughout the summer to examples of great ways God provided for His people…the gift of manna is certainly one of those ways…

- if this subject was so important that it ranked in the top three items carried in the ark of covenant, there undoubtedly has to be marvelous truth for people like you and me…

- read Exodus 16:1-36

- so we’re talking about how we should Depend on God’s Powerful Provision…and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 truths that help us trust God to meet our needs.

I. Avoid the Sin of Grumbling that Too Easily Characterizes the People of God.

- this passage is dripping with the patience and forbearance of God…it reminds us of…

- Psalm 86:15 - But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

- that’s because the context of God’s provision of manna was the incessant grumbling of his people…

- and part of what’s amazing is that apparently, it’s not just a few malcontents…

- Exodus 16:2 - The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

- and its not only an issue of the number of people complaining, but the context in which they were doing it…

A. Even when the Lord had recently blessed

- what has just happened in the previous couple of chapters?...

- the parting of the Red Sea, and then the healing of the waters at Marah

- if you glance back over chapter 15, you can see what they had just been saying…

- Exodus 15:1–2 - Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.

- Exodus 15:11 - “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?

- you know, that song didn’t stay at the top of the charts very long…you talk about a one-hit wonder or God’s people having very short attention spans…

- now in chapter 16, the whole congregation of the sons of Israel are grumbling…

- have you been tempted at all to grumble during this pandemic?...at our political leaders, or our medical leaders, or your boss/company, or the people under your roof, or life in general?...

- and please think about this – how does that tendency impact the topic of worry and fear?...

- if worry is like a fire – is adding grumbling to the mix like pouring water or gasoline on the flames?...

- now please notice what happens…

B. Causes you to misrepresent the past and exaggerate the future

- Exodus 16:3 - The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

- do you see the twin errors of grumbling?...making the past sound much better than it was…and the present/future sound far worse?...

- my grandmother used to say – you know the “good ole days” – they weren’t that good…

- but this dual tendency wrapped up in grumbling will feed sinful worry…

- Tim Keller said - Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong

- if time allowed, we could see evidences of both sides in both the pandemic and the recent protests around our country…

- are there legitimate concerns – absolutely

- does it merit the level of hysteria we see on our streets and in the media…not even close…

- another crucial emphasis is that we…

C. Understand that grumbling ultimately is a complaint against God’s character

- Exodus 16:7 - and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, for He hears your grumblings against the Lord…

- Exodus 16:8 - …the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”

- now this is a very important point…the word “against” is a crucial aspect of this discussion…

- we’re not talking about biblical lament here, where people are expressing their hurts and concerns and fears to the Lord and asking Him for a deeper understanding of what is occurring and relief from their suffering of strength to endure it…

- this is not “complaining to” – it is “complaining against”…and the difference between those two categories is immense…

- one comes in humility…the other comes in pride

- one comes to listen…the other comes to talk…

- one comes with open hands…the other comes with clenched fists…

- one makes worry better…the other makes worry worse, far worse…

- what this means is – ultimately grumbling is act of blasphemy…it detracts from the character and majesty of God…

- it’s following the advice of Job’s wife – to curse God, and die…

- this may explain why this subject comes in in a fascinating place in the NT…right after Paul tells the Philippians…Philippians 2:12–13 - …work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

-- what is the very first subject he then mentions as a test of this important balance?...

- Philippians 2:14 - Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

- can I pause and ask you to consider how you are doing in that particular area of life?...

- how would you rate yourself on matter of grumbling in the last 90 days?...if 10 is pleasing God and 1 is being a grumble factory…how would you rate yourself?...

- and has this area of your life helped you control sinful worry…or has it fed the fire of sinful worry?...

- now, what happens next gives incredible insight in the way our God often chooses to relate to His creatures…

II. Marvel at the Way God Provides for His Children.

- do you like it when someone is complaining against you?...

- especially if it’s in the context of tremendous things you just did for them…or if it’s characterized by exaggeration and drama?...how long are you willing to put up with that or respond favorably to it?...

- what an incredible example of how different the Lord is than us…and why we can always trust Him to provide…

A. As an opportunity to magnify His glory

- Exodus 16:9 - Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.’ ”

- Exodus 16:10 - It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

- and He appeared right in the middle of their blasphemous complaining for what purpose?....to marvelously and graciously provide…

- one of the emphases here is that the Lord did this…

B. In a way that fills His people with good things

- please don’t miss that aspect of His provision…Exodus 16:12 - …in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.

- do you like bread….especially if it has been freshly baked, with a pad of butter melting on top?...

- think right now about who you think makes the best bread in town…and then consider this – imagine if God was the baker…

- Exodus 16:13–14 - in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.

- Exodus 16:31 - …it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.

- how was this miracle intended to impact their grumbling?....and how was it intended to impact their worry?...

- the answer is that every day we can depend on God’s powerful provision…

- we do not need to murmur and we do not need to complain…God stands ready us fill our hunger it ways that are completely satisfying…

- now, was this miracle an end in itself…or was it pointing forward to an even greater provision of God intended to make?...

- we know the answer to that question…don’t we?...

- Jesus used this very event to explain what it was like to have a relationship to Him…

- do you remember the conversation in the gospel of John chapter 6?...

- it was near the time of the Passover…just like, in a sense, Exodus 16 was…

- and a large crowd gathered…numbered later in the passage as 5000 men along with their families…

- so Jesus -- John 6:5 - Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”

- John 6:7 - Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”

- that was a fascinating calculation for all sorts of reasons…including this, Jesus isn’t in the habit of providing in a way that “everyone gets a little…”

- then there’s this small boy with 5 loaves and 2 fishes…and you remember what happened…

- John 6:12–13 - When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

- can you imagine a fish sandwich, on fresh bread, that Jesus just miraculously made?...kind-of like Chick-fil-A, fish-style…

- and if you say – I don’t like fish sandwiches – I’m pretty sure you would have on this particular day…

- and did you see the key word that we also saw in Exodus 16…was it just enough for everyone to receive a little?...no, the Lord had seated them and the passage even includes the detail that there was “much grass in the place…”

- then John 6:11 - Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

- it was one of those – “this is so good, but if I eat one more bite I am going to burst” moments…

- why?...so he could explain to them later -- John 6:27 - Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.

- that’s when the crowd asked Jesus to show them a sign, because in the OT -- John 6:31 - “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ ”

- and do you remember what Jesus said next?...

- John 6:32–35 - Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…”.

- the provision that can sustain us through a pandemic…and through trying to process racial tension in our country and our world…it the bread that comes down out of heaven…it’s the bread of life…and those who come to Him have a promise made by a God who fed the children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years…

- I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst…

- now, and this is very important…you and I have to…

III. Pass the Test that Often Accompanies Blessing

A. Choose to believe that God’s provision will be enough

- there’s a very important detail in Exodus 16:4…Exodus 16:4 - Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.

- and what was the test?...can I trust God to be my sustenance every day…and on the weekend (if we wanted to say it that way), for two days….

- and how did that go?...

- Exodus 16:20 - But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.

- Exodus 16:27–28 - It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?

- well, thankfully, not everyone disobeyed…Exodus 16:30 - So the people rested on the seventh day.

- they called it manna – meaning – “what is it”…God had done something new among them…

- Exodus 16:35 - The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

- and when it came time to decide what three items would be included in the ark of the covenant…there was of course the tablets of stone containing the 10 commandments…and there’s was Aaron’s rod that had budded…and there was a golden jar of manna…reminding them of God’s provision, and pointing us to the prefect bread of life…

B. Look for ways to memorialize what God has done for you

- Exodus 16:32 - Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ ”

- there are an entire series of relevant questions that come exploding out of this passage in light of what is occurring in our world…

1. Have you accepted the gift of God’s eternally satisfying provision in Christ?...one of the sad ironies of John chapter 6…showing how something things make a complete circle…is do you know how some people responded to Jesus’ invitation to trust Him as the bread of Life…they grumbled…

- and I realize some people might do that with this message…suggesting that finding your ultimate satisfaction in Christ is the best antidote to worry…

- some might grumble – well, he should be saying more about praying for a vaccine, or maintaining social distancing, or why masks are our only hope, and on and on…

- and I’m not saying that all those pandemic issues are unimportant…but those issues don’t become compulsive worries if you’ve already found your satisfaction in Christ…

- or he should be saying more about racial injustice…or support for law enforcement…or supporting the protestors…or condemning the rioters…

- if any of those places are where you’re trying to find your sustenance…you will be endlessly hungry and dissatisfied…

- protesting friend demanding justice in this world…

- policeman friend demanding appreciation in this world…

- pandemic friend demanding healing in this world…

- and all people in between…

- sit down right here in the grassy place…and acknowledge…we need bread from heaven…

- and if you have never done so before…let the stark reality of the emaciating power of sin…not just in a healthcare pandemic…or a societal crisis…but in the depths of every one of our own idolatrous hearts…

- let it lead you to open your hand in repentance and faith and accept the gift of bread from heaven…of trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior…

2. Christian friend…we’re being tested every bit as much as the children of Israel….when they left Elim and came to the wilderness of Sin…

- and the delightful thing is – many of God’s people are passing the test…

- Steve and Pam Akers passed it…because even when facing unexpected job loss…they didn’t succumb to sinful worry…they found Jesus to be their satisfying bread of life…

- there are people facing the ongoing effects of this pandemic…but they are not sinfully worrying…because this world is not their home…and they are not placing their ultimate hope in a vaccine or a booming economy…they had a great fish sandwich this morning…their relationship with Christ is sustaining them…and they know when they wake up in the morning….they’re be another one waiting…

- there are people protesting right now…nothing wrong with that…but many have said – we’re not going to break the law, we’re not going to vandalize someone else’s property…and we understand that we’ll never have perfect justice in this sin-cursed world…

- so our ultimate satisfaction is in the finished work of Christ…and we let govern and guide the way we protest…

- there are people listening to these protests……

- and they might wish they were receiving more appreciation right now…some of the treatment they are receiving is also unjust…

- but they are not sinfully demanding justice either…they are listening to the grievances of others…why?...because they ate before they left home…praise God for those in this situation finding their sustenance in the bread of life…

- when you are satisfied in Him…you’re not going to spend much time grumbling…and you’re not going to spend much time worrying….

- and as a result…your life is characterized by a kind of quiet strength…and quite satisfaction…

- some of you may remember the happy day when we dedicated and had the Grand Opening for the NCC…

- [pic #1 of Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard]…

- you’ve heard me say many times before that while I’m glad for all our collaborative partners…I am especially glad that the Hanna Center…and the Latino Center for Wellness and Education were willing to join us…

- [Pic of our Better Together mural]

- Mrs. Hubbard is one of the persons featured on our Better Together mural…

- [pic #2 of me and Mr. Hubbard]…

- when it came time to have the dedication prayer…we asked Mr. David Hubbard to pray on our behalf…

- both he and his wife have some very sad stories to tell…but if you are around them for even a few minutes, you know they are characterized by dignity and strength…

- then as soon as Mr. Hubbard begins praying, you know why…

- even in a very unjust world…he’s found his strength and his sustenance in the eternal Bread of Life…

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video