1. When you think about the “good ol’ days” what comes to your mind?
2. What do we tend to remember about the “good ol’ days”? (Generally only the good and not the difficulties or hard times.)
How soon we forget about the things we wanted to be different about our past. We remember the good things that we enjoyed.
In spite of their recent and miraculous freedom from slavery, God’s people began to grumble and complain that they weren’t provided for well enough. While their concerns were genuine and valid, they went about voicing them all wrong.
In our study today we will see ways God, through Moses, challenged their perspective, provided what they needed, and confronted their need to learn to trust Him more.
After crossing the Red Sea, God’s people began their journey to Sinai. They needed water and came upon a place called Marah that had water but it was bitter. God instructed Moses to cut a particular tree and throw it into the water. Moses did as instructed and the water became drinkable.
In our text today, they have depleted all the food they brought with them. Now the need for food became prominent.
It is almost as if the people were saying, “I know God provided deliverance and water, but this is different. How will our people numbering around two million be fed!
Questioning the Future! Read Exodus 16:1-3
It had been almost exactly one month since they had left Egypt. Now they were concerned about their food supplies.
1. Why do we sometimes prefer the old to the new? (We don’t like change. We only remember the good not the bad.)
2. How is accepting God’s provision for today an act of trust and faith?
3. Is it true that “one bad apple will spoil the whole bunch”?
4. How is that lived out when people are grumbling or complaining?
5. How can pessimism or doubt spread through a congregation?
6. How can we guard against letting doubt spread? (We must focus on the positive and encourage those who would be negative to focus on what is good and how God has provided in the past.)
7. When we grumble and complain against the leadership God has placed over us who are we really complaining about?
8. When they were back in Egypt what were they crying out to God about? (The bitterness of their slavery.)
As we have said, the people’s concerns were valid but the way they went about voicing them was all wrong. They had allowed fear and doubt to cloud their ability to correctly see the past, present, and future! Some complaints constituted acts of unbelief, disobedience, and rebellion against God’s authority. Trusting God is a choice, and not always the immediately easy choice in a given situation.
Now let’s see God’s response to the people’s concerns.
Questioning Their Obedience! Read Exodus 16:4-12
1. In what way was God’s provision for them and His instructions a test? (If they didn’t fully trust God they would try to gather more than enough for just one day. By limiting how much they gathered they were demonstrating their trust in God that He would provide again tomorrow.)
2. Why was it so important for the people to trust and obey God in these simple instructions regarding the food?
3. Which is more challenging—to obey God in the simple things or to obey in the hard things?
4. How is obedience without trust different from obedience with trust? (Obedience without trust is simply saying, “I don’t believe this will work but I’ll do it!”)
5. How did God speak to Moses? (Ex. 33:11 says the Lord spoke to Moses “face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend.”)
6. How does God speak to us? (His Word. Circumstances. His messengers—preachers, evangelists and teachers. What God says to us in other ways will never conflict with His Word!)
7. What is God’s stated purpose in His response to their need in the wilderness? (Verse 12. “Then you will know that I am Yahweh your God!” God’s desire to be in relationship with people is a distinguishing mark of His character throughout Scripture and human history. Every believer has a testimony that repeats this theme uniquely. He created us to be in relationship with Him!)
God’s desire is that we obey, and as we do this we strengthen our trust in Him. Now see how God’s provision matched the people’s needs perfectly.
Questioning the Provision! Read Exodus 16:13-18
1. How would you describe the provisions God made for His people in this passage?
2. Where did these quail come from at precisely the time God told them they would come? (These quail were a little smaller than the quail we are familiar with and were migratory birds. After flying across the Red Sea they were tired and settled down among the people of God. But that is not normal for a wild bird. Even if the quail were migratory they came at exactly the time God said they would come. The next time God provided quail for His people in the wilderness is recorded in Num. 11:31-32.)
3. How can not knowing what something is or how it was provided cause a person to question that provision? (We must be careful when God makes provision for us that we don’t simply credit it to a coincidence that was coming to us anyhow and God didn’t provide it.)
4. How can a person’s focus on what was provided get in the way of being thankful for that provision? (Do you think the people were thankful for the quail and manna? There is no indication in the rest of this chapter that the people paused to thank God for what He had done for them!)
5. What role do expectations play in our ability to be satisfied? (We see in the Israelites the familiar tendency to trust the provisions rather than the Provider. Trusting the Provider more than we trust our provisions frees believers to worship God above all things and share generously.)
6. Why can gratitude be hard to come by? (I’m afraid we have the attitude that we are entitled to the blessings God showers on us rather than being humbled that He would even acknowledge us and meet our needs.)
God’s encouragement to the people to obey, and requiring some effort on their part, didn’t mean God was indifferent to their hardship. In fact, God’s great love for them motivated Him to free, lead, and strengthen them.
Notice that whatever was gathered met their need. God alone gives eternal life, satisfying our deepest spiritual hunger.
7. How much mercy and grace do you need? (God has an abundant supply!
Questioning the Next Meal! Read Exodus 16:19-20
1. How did some of the people disobey God’s instructions and what happened?
2. What happens when we disregard God’s instructions?
3. Why do you think the people disobeyed this simple instruction from Moses?
4. In what ways did the people’s lack of obedience reveal a lack of trust in God? (Saving manna to eat the next day demonstrated a lack of faith that God would provide for tomorrow!)
5. Why are we tempted to hoard God’s provisions? (We feel most comfortable with a backup plan, just in case things don’t work out or God doesn’t come through like we think He will. The stinky, rotten manna is a stark picture of the value of man’s back up plans when compared with God’s trustworthy guidance.)
6. How does God’s daily provision foster dependence on and trust in God?
7. The Israelites ate manna for 40 years in the wilderness but when they crossed over into Canaan at Gilgal the manna abruptly stopped. How have you found God more than sufficient to meet life’s necessities?
8. How does the Model Prayer address our daily needs?
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What lesson can we take away from this episode of the Israelites’ journey and their questioning in the wilderness? (We face the same kinds of decisions about whether to fully trust God to meet our daily needs.)
Questions to ponder:
2. In what areas of your life do you have the most difficulty obeying God?
3. How does that challenge relate to your willingness to trust God?
4. For what do you need to trust God as the next step in your obedience to Him?
5. God uses our spiritual family to meet our needs sometimes. How can you show appreciation to those God has worked through to meet your needs?
Look for opportunities to trust God more in your daily choices and plans.
Thank God for His perfect provision and ask Him to help you respond in obedience to Him in every aspect of your life!