Did eat manna forty years - This does not necessarily imply that the Israelites were fed exclusively on manna, or that the supply was continuous during forty years: but that whenever it might be needed, owing to the total or partial failure of other food, it was given until they entered the promised land. They had numerous flocks and herds, which were not slaughtered (see Numbers 11:22), but which gave them milk, cheese and of course a limited supply of flesh: nor is there any reason to suppose that during a considerable part of that time they may not have cultivated some spots of fertile ground in the wilderness. We may assume, as in most cases of miracle, that the supernatural supply was commensurate with their actual necessity. The manna was not withheld in fact until the Israelites had passed the Jordan.
The children of Israel did eat manna forty years - From this verse it has been supposed that the book of Exodus was not written till after the miracle of the manna had ceased. But these words might have been added by Ezra, who under the direction of the Divine Spirit collected and digested the different inspired books, adding such supplementary, explanatory, and connecting sentences, as were deemed proper to complete and arrange the whole of the sacred canon. For previously to his time, according to the universal testimony of the Jews, all the books of the Old Testament were found in an unconnected and dispersed state.
The Hebrews were cruelly unbelieving and basely ungrateful in their impious request: “Make us gods, which shall go before us.” If Moses was absent, the presence of the Lord remained; they were not forsaken. The manna continued to fall, and they were fed by a divine hand morning and evening. The cloudy pillar by day and the pillar of fire by night signified the presence of God, which was a living memorial before them. The divine presence was not dependent upon the presence of Moses. But at the very time that he was pleading with the Lord in the mount in their behalf, they were rushing into shameful errors, into transgression of the law so recently given in grandeur. 3T 340.1
Here we see the weakness of Aaron. Had he stood with true moral courage and in boldness rebuked the leaders in this shameful request, his timely words would have saved that terrible apostasy. But his desire to be popular with the congregation, and his fear of incurring their displeasure, led him to cowardly sacrifice the allegiance of the Hebrews in that decisive moment. He raised an altar, made a graven image, and proclaimed a day in which to consecrate that image as an object of worship and to proclaim before all Israel: These be the gods which led you out of Egypt. While the top of the mount is still illuminated with the glory of God, he calmly witnesses the merriment and dancing to this senseless image; and Moses is sent down from the mount by the Lord to rebuke the people. But Moses would not consent to leave the mount until his pleadings in behalf of Israel were heard and his request that God would pardon them was granted. 3T 340.2Read in context »
Because they had been shielded by divine power they had not realized the countless dangers by which they were continually surrounded. In their ingratitude and unbelief they had anticipated death, and now the Lord permitted death to come upon them. The poisonous serpents that infested the wilderness were called fiery serpents, on account of the terrible effects produced by their sting, it causing violent inflammation and speedy death. As the protecting hand of God was removed from Israel, great numbers of the people were attacked by these venomous creatures. PP 429.1
Now there was terror and confusion throughout the encampment. In almost every tent were the dying or the dead. None were secure. Often the silence of night was broken by piercing cries that told of fresh victims. All were busy in ministering to the sufferers, or with agonizing care endeavoring to protect those who were not yet stricken. No murmuring now escaped their lips. When compared with the present suffering, their former difficulties and trials seemed unworthy of a thought. PP 429.2
The people now humbled themselves before God. They came to Moses with their confessions and entreaties. “We have sinned,” they said, “for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee.” Only a little before, they had accused him of being their worst enemy, the cause of all their distress and afflictions. But even when the words were upon their lips, they knew that the charge was false; and as soon as real trouble came they fled to him as the only one who could intercede with God for them. “Pray unto the Lord,” was their cry, “that He take away the serpents from us.” PP 429.3Read in context »
For the moment the interest of the hearers was awakened. They exclaimed, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” They had been performing many and burdensome works in order to recommend themselves to God; and they were ready to hear of any new observance by which they could secure greater merit. Their question meant, What shall we do that we may deserve heaven? What is the price we are required to pay in order to obtain the life to come? DA 385.1
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” The price of heaven is Jesus. The way to heaven is through faith in “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. DA 385.2
But the people did not choose to receive this statement of divine truth. Jesus had done the very work which prophecy had foretold that the Messiah would do; but they had not witnessed what their selfish hopes had pictured as His work. Christ had indeed once fed the multitude with barley loaves; but in the days of Moses Israel had been fed with manna forty years, and far greater blessings were expected from the Messiah. Their dissatisfied hearts queried why, if Jesus could perform so many wondrous works as they had witnessed, could He not give health, strength, and riches to all His people, free them from their oppressors, and exalt them to power and honor? The fact that He claimed to be the Sent of God, and yet refused to be Israel's king, was a mystery which they could not fathom. His refusal was misinterpreted. Many concluded that He dared not assert His claims because He Himself doubted as to the divine character of His mission. Thus they opened their hearts to unbelief, and the seed which Satan had sown bore fruit of its kind, in misunderstanding and defection. DA 385.3
Now, half mockingly, a rabbi questioned, “What sign showest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? what dost Thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” DA 385.4
The Jews honored Moses as the giver of the manna, ascribing praise to the instrument, and losing sight of Him by whom the work had been accomplished. Their fathers had murmured against Moses, and had doubted and denied his divine mission. Now in the same spirit the children rejected the One who bore the message of God to themselves. “Then said Jesus unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven.” The giver of the manna was standing among them. It was Christ Himself who had led the Hebrews through the wilderness, and had daily fed them with the bread from heaven. That food was a type of the real bread from heaven. The life-giving Spirit, flowing from the infinite fullness of God, is the true manna. Jesus said, “The bread of God is that which cometh down out of heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” John 6:33, R. V. DA 385.5Read in context »
When the God of Israel brought His people out of Egypt, He withheld flesh meats from them in a great measure, but gave them bread from heaven and water from the flinty rock. With this they were not satisfied. They loathed the food given them and wished themselves back in Egypt, where they could sit by the fleshpots. They preferred to endure slavery, and even death, rather than to be deprived of flesh. God granted their desire, giving them flesh, and leaving them to eat till their gluttony produced a plague, from which many of them died. CH 111.1
Example after example might be cited to show the effects of yielding to appetite. It seemed a small matter to our first parents to transgress the command of God in that one act,—the eating from a tree that was so beautiful to the sight and so pleasant to the taste,—but it broke their allegiance to God and opened the gates to a flood of guilt and woe that has deluged the world. CH 111.2Read in context »
Before entering the Promised Land, the Israelites were admonished by Moses to “keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it.” Deuteronomy 5:12. The Lord designed that by a faithful observance of the Sabbath command, Israel should continually be reminded of their accountability to Him as their Creator and their Redeemer. While they should keep the Sabbath in the proper spirit, idolatry could not exist; but should the claims of this precept of the Decalogue be set aside as no longer binding, the Creator would be forgotten and men would worship other gods. “I gave them My Sabbaths,” God declared, “to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Yet “they despised My judgments, and walked not in My statutes, but polluted My Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.” And in His appeal to them to return to Him, He called their attention anew to the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy. “I am the Lord your God,” He said; “walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; and hallow My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:12, 16, 19, 20. PK 181.1Read in context »