The Wilderness of Sin –
From the oasis that was Elim they journeyed to the wilderness of Sin, which is pronounced, “seen.” So the word does not mean transgressed against God. It is translated in Hebrew as thorn. The wilderness of Sin was between Elim and Sinai. When they got to the wilderness they immediately began to grumble against Moses and Aaron. Their grumbling became more and more intense.
Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt. There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. Exodus 16:1-4 NLT
Now when the Israelites grumbled as slaves in Egypt under Pharaoh, he took away the straw they used to make bricks. They still had to make bricks but without the straw it was much more difficult. When they murmured and complained while they served Pharaoh, he took away something of great value to make their lives harder. Pharaoh showed he couldn’t be trusted. When the Israelites murmured and complained in Sin, God told Moses to get the people ready because He would fill them with bread and meat. Much unlike Pharaoh, God can be trusted.
At times I’ve been guilty of thinking, “why in the world does God bless these people who don’t serve him?” I’ve seen people on social media brag about how God has blessed them with this thing or that and I know they are only using God’s name in the generic sense, all the while living according to the world’s standards. God often blesses those who don’t wholeheartedly follow Him for a very good reason. He’s revealing Himself to them because He wants their love and relationship. God blessed the Israelites in spite of their sin in Sin because He wants them to trust in His provisions and promises, so He gives them all the quail and heavenly bread they can eat.
Now let’s talk about this manna. The Israelites were complaining and making Egypt sound a lot nicer than it really was. When God rained down this miracle upon His people they were confused. Moses told them that God would give them bread from heaven, but when it actually happened they called it manna, which means, “what is it?” They were critical. They didn’t thank the Provider they questioned the provision. Even after He turned the bitter waters sweet, allowed them rest at an oasis and provided all of the food they could ever need, the Israelites still didn’t know just Who God was.
Now through manna God taught them a new lesson. Self-discipline. They had to get up early before the sun rose and collect the manna. If they didn’t get up early the sun would melt it and it would be gone. They had worked very hard in Egypt so I could see them getting a little lazy in the desert. No one was demanding brutal labor of them but God needed to keep them moving forward and collecting their food was a good way to get them up and ready for each day. So they had to go out and collect the manna. Sometimes Gods promises are that way. We have to do something in order for our prayers to be answered. It reminds me of a testimony I heard years ago. A lady wanted to start her own dog grooming business but didn’t know where to start. One day during her prayer time, God told her to volunteer at her local SPCA and groom the dogs there to make them presentable for adoption. Many dogs were adopted because of her obedience but she also met the right people that helped her start her business. Just like the Israelites had to collect their manna that God provided in order to eat. She had to be obedient to God for her prayers to be answered.
God tested the obedience of the Israelites as well. He only allowed them to collect so much everyday. Greed is a vice readily present in those who find it hard to trust in God for provision. But they were still at the point where they didn’t know if they could trust this intangible God who Moses said they belonged to. I’m sure God felt that at this point in the journey that He had proved Himself enough to these people. How could they not trust that He would provide for them everyday? The people thought that they could get around being dependent on God by collecting more, or collecting what he told them to but eating less and saving the rest for the next day. But as the Israelites discovered, if they didn’t do it God’s way it didn’t work out. We have to trust God and be dependent on His ways. He is not our crutch. He is our very being.