Formations lesson for Nov. 4: Living Respectfully
October 19 2001 by Tom Greene , Exodus 16:22-30

Formations lesson for Nov. 4: Living Respectfully | Friday, Oct. 19, 2001

Friday, Oct. 19, 2001

Formations lesson for Nov. 4: Living Respectfully

By Tom Greene Exodus 16:22-30 "Sabbath," from the root "to desist," became one of the distinctive marks of Judaism that distinguished the followers from their neighbors. It is Yahweh's - a day blessed by Him, and charged with the vitality which comes from holiness. It served as a token of His covenant-relation with Israel, by which time is hallowed and the community and the land gain strength and refreshment. This oldest Old Testament passage about the Sabbath connects with the Sabbath rest that is built into creation (Gen. 2:1-3). Yahweh gave the Sabbath as His gift to Israel.

Surprise, Surprise (Exodus 16:22-24) Yahweh had made allowance for Israel's rest on the Sabbath - not as a day of worship, but a day of solemn rest. Earlier the promise had been simply stated to Moses that on the day preceding the Sabbath twice the amount of manna would fall. But in the execution of the promise there is a delightful twist. The people are not informed of the plan. They go blissfully out on the 6th day, gathering a day's portion as usual, and to their amazement; they gather twice the normal amount. The anxious chief men come to Moses. He uses their surprise to instruct them in the nature of the Sabbath. The alarmed leaders were concerned that the limit was being passed. Moses eased their fears by explaining that Yahweh intended and allowed it to be so.

But this was a natural question. If the manna fell every day and could not be stored, what happened on the Sabbath? The story answers the question and both restrictive measures, miraculously set, could be miraculously removed. The removal is necessitated by the need to keep the Sabbath holy to Yahweh. Yahweh had made provision. The motif of the people's discovery adds one more charming element to the joyous wonder of the manna. Yahweh gives Israel, as it were, a surprise party.

What Do You Mean Rest (Exodus 16:25-30) There is a festive ring in these verses as Moses explains in detail the nature of the Sabbath and what it entails. It stems from a command of Yahweh. It is a day of special rest - set apart from the ordinary and dedicated to Yahweh. In anticipation for this special day, Israel is encouraged to be prepared. When the people took Moses' advice, the manna did not spoil or become rancid. The Sabbath is not a day to go hungry and mourn. Rather Israel is to eat, for "today" is Yahweh's special day. Moses tells the people to enjoy a Sabbath meal. The Sabbath is a day of rest from work, not from enjoyment of what Yahweh provides. The theme of the joy of the Sabbath and it being a blessing are present here. Yahweh meant this as a blessing, not a curse. Some people have always had a way of turning blessings into curses.

Ernest Kasemann tells the story of a small Dutch village being threatened by a storm. As the sea tides inched higher and higher, eroding the dikes, people gathered in the village church to decide what must be done. They were in a quandary. It was the Lord's Day and their faith forbade their working on the Sabbath. Yet if they didn't work they might well lose their homes. Finally, in the heat of the debate, a young clergyman timidly mentioned the example of Jesus. "Our Lord reminds us," he said, "that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." "Aye," retorted an old man who was very conservative, "I always did suspect that our Lord Jesus was a wee bit of a liberal!"

Not all the people were enjoying the Sabbath. Some were out hunting for manna and lost the benefit by ignoring the day. Their disobedience gives rise to a complaint of Yahweh about laxity in the keeping of his commands "How long will you refuse to keep my commandments?"

The issue is the effect that disobedience has on Yahweh's new creation and his relationship with Israel. Their behaviors reveal a disposition to disregard Yahweh's will for the best life possible. They threaten to undo what Yahweh has just brought into being. The people respond positively to the expressed anger (Ex. 16:21,30). Even in the face of misuse, and the failure of the test, Yahweh's graciousness prevails.

When we accept Yahweh's gift and allow his graciousness to prevail we then are living respectfully.

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10/19/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tom Greene , Exodus 16:22-30 | with 0 comments
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