SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY
16TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, 24TH SEPT. 2017
Title: “Let the Redeemed Praise the Lord!”
Text: Exodus 16:2-15
2. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3.The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 4. Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain own bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this day I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” 6. So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8. Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” 9. Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” 10. While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. 11.The Lord said to Moses, 12. “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” 13. That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning, there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16. This is what the Lord has commended: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an Omer for each person you have in your tent.’”
The story is told of a young man who has been sick most of his life. He could not play with other kids his age due to the illness. In his young adult life, he joined the ministry. It became difficult for him due to the growing size of his congregation. But he did not give up. At the end of his life, he had written many wonderful Christian hymns. Isaac Watts is known for the many hymns of praises he wrote. In life, we will encounter conditions that we have no control over. We will encounter conditions in life, that will make us question the power of God in our lives. One thing we should know is the fact, that God has always been there for us, and we need to give him the praise at all times.
The passage under consideration talks about a time when God’s chosen people, Israel was being led by Moses into the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, that God has promised them. It was during the early phase of a 38-40 years period, when Israel wandered in the land called Kadesh Barnea. During this early time in the history of the Israelites, they are learning to build a relationship with and to trust God. We will see in the narrative, a pattern of complaining. When we go back to Exodus 14:11 and 15:24, one will see that the complaints are being systemic. The complaint in this narrative is the third. In the young relationship with God, the Israelites is being pursued by the Egyptian army. They faced imminent danger: dehydration and starvation. The Israelites complained against their leadership. The leadership brings their complaints to God. As a God of providence and protection, God saved them from the Egyptian soldiers. It was a situation of Israel being ‘between the devil and deep blue sea,’ but God saved them. God does not only save them, but God brings them to a place, where He provides clean drinking water and food. In considering this text, the picture of the many ups and downs that Christians have to go through are obvious. The tough financial times are obvious. The complaints about many things are apparent. What do I offer to my congregants that are going through some rough times. What do I tell them about complaining, and bring a word of assurance? There is one thing, let us who have been redeemed by God praise and worship Him. Please reflect with me this morning on the theme, “Let the Redeemed Praise the Lord!”
Complaining Can be Ingratitude, when the children of God forget all God has done for them, and questions His providence and protection.
To begin with, it is important for people to praise God, rather than complain. Too often, Christians are never satisfy nor content. We always desire more, than there already is. We complained if there is too much rain. If there is less rain we complained. If we do not get what we want, we say God does not care about us. If there is a problem, we are quick to think, that it is only us who have the problems. We forget about the good days, and conclude that life isn’t fair. Sometimes, we questioned the where about of God, when we needed Him the most. This so clear with the children of Israel in this narrative. The language used by the children of Israel is very strong. It does not do justice, to all the good things, God has done for them. In verse 3 of chapter 16, “The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Their complaining is surprising, comparing the hardship the children of Israel went through in the early chapters of Exodus, to the one they faced in this narrative. They had come fresh from the brutality of stubborn Pharaoh. Nothing like the stubbornness of the ‘rocket man.’ They forgot so soon, the wonderful leadership Moses and Aaron had provided. They questioned the very leaders, God had designated to liberate them. But here is what they failed to understand, they were questioning God. In verse 8, Moses reminded them that their grumbling was directed at God. Here they were, questioning the providence and protection God had given them.
A pastor visited a person who was sick and shut in for ten years. The lady spirit was good and she had many good conversations with the pastor. On one of those visits, the pastor noticed that the lady no longer lived there. Her family did not inform the church about her moved to a nursing facility. The pastor found where she had moved, and continued the visit. She died and again the church was not notified. The pastor found out about the funeral in the newspaper. Another pastor officiated the funeral. He knew nothing about the lady and her commitment to the church. The pastor introduced himself to the family. They apologized. Like the folks in this story, we forget very soon. God provides for us in difficult times and we forget God. This is a serious ingratitude on our part. Israel was delivered by God. They forgot so soon all God did for them. They became ungrateful. The reason why we forget and complained is due to discontentment. We are not satisfy with what God gives us, because our expectation are very different. What we expect from God, is not what God will always give us. God will give us our needs, and sometimes not our wants
Complaint is a result of discontentment.
When this passage is read, one starts to wonder, what in the life of the Israelites that made them miss their former life in Egyptian? It is clear the former life in Egypt was filled with misery. It was a life of chaos and hardship. Though they long for the life in Egypt and its bounty, it was a life without rest. It was a life without freedom. Their life in Egypt was controlled by a king who did not care for them. Their life in the wilderness was one under a trustworthy God, who provided everything and protected them. But yet, they complained. Verse 2 of chapter 16 reads, “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.” They complained because, they were not satisfied with what they had. They complained because of discontentment. When we are not contented with what we have, we are blinded from the blessings that surrounds us. Manna was a gift from God. In Psalms 105:40, the Psalmist call it, “bread of heaven.” This was a strange substance to the children of Israel. It was edible. In Hebrew, manna means what is it? No wonder verse 15 reads, “When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, What is it? For they did not know what it was.” It is the big mistake we often make, that God will always give us what we ask for. It is a mistake to think that life will always be the same for us. God is not going to provide for us the same way, he provided for us in the past. Things are going to change. No condition is going to be permanent. We have to accept and make adjustments, to whatever comes our way. You may not like green beans, corn, or peas, but if that is what is available to eat, consider it a delicious meal and eat. You may not be satisfied with the job you have, but if that is what pays the bill, do it with commitment, than God provide a better one. You may not like your pastor, but perhaps his/her gifts are what the congregation needs at this particular time. You may not like the president, but maybe that is who God wants you have. The apostle Paul in warning us about the devices of the devil in 1 Timothy 6:6 reminds us, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” This tells us that every child of God ought to be contented. Be satisfy with what you have!! James 1:13-15 gives us the source of our discontentment. It is because of our own lust that makes us sin, and sin causes our downfall. Let us appreciate what God has given us. Let us be grateful to God, for He cares for our needs. Let us accept our needs and not demand what we want. Let us praise God for He redeemed us.
Let us praise God for He redeemed us from sin and provides eternal life.
This narrative will put us in a negative frame of mind, when we think about the complaints, and the harsh words of Israel against their leaders. While one will noticed the frustration of Moses and Aaron, the narrative shows that God is a providential God. God looked at the needs of the people, rather than what their complaints were. God is seen here as dwelling on how he can know these people more fully. He is focused, on how he will redeemed these people from their ingratitude, to having them trust him. In verse 12, God said, I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Here you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ ” The Lord did indeed provide the manna for them. This is very important: There was not a single day, that the manna did not appear. In fact, the manna appeared throughout the 38 to 40 years they wandered in the desert. While they circle in the desert because of their own disobedience, God still fed them. Each time of their discontent, God fed them. Each time they complained, God fed them. He did not only feed them, he protected them. I do not know about you this morning, but each time God provides for me, I just want to shout praises to Him. There is one thing in this passage, that God’s providence and protection is reassured. Each time these people yearn for their former life of slavery, God’s grace took them through. Each time they dwell on their fleshy nature, God’s grace took them through. How could they forget so soon. Church, let us who have been redeemed by God’s grace, praise the Lord.