God has freed the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage and in the Red Sea given them a stunning victory over their taskmasters. But the Hebrews aren’t happy. They are hungry. How are they to survive in the desert? No fertile soil — no water — no crop — no food.
Trusting the Lord may be a pretty good idea in this situation. After all, he has just rescued Israel with a display of mighty power. The people don’t seem to think of that, though. So they listen to their growling stomachs and complain bitterly. What’s the big idea, Moses? If the Lord is trying to kill us all, why didn’t he slay us in Egypt? At least we could have died with some food in our bellies.
The divine response to the people’s sour attitude is gracious and compassionate. The Lord rains down bread from heaven for the entire 40 years that Israel wanders in the desert. Every morning, six days a week, the people find fine flakes of manna on the ground. The seventh day of each week is to be a sabbath rest. God tells the people to gather twice as much as usual on the sixth day so that they will have food on the seventh. But some people don’t listen. On that first sabbath, they go in search of manna and find nothing.
The Lord says, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments?” (Exod. 16:28). God has made himself perfectly clear. Six days a week you’ll find manna. On the seventh day you won’t. Gather double on the sixth day of the week. How can the Israelites mix this up?
How long do you refuse to keep my commandments? Intriguing question. Notice that God doesn’t wonder how long the people will fail to understand his commandments. Lack of divine clarity or human intelligence isn’t the problem. People refuse to obey God because they know better than he does.
Is the biblical command to be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins too complicated to understand? Is biblical instruction concerning gender roles in the home and church completely baffling and therefore subject to personal interpretation? Must biblical teaching concerning adulterous marriage and homosexuality be reexamined in light of our changing culture?