Grades 3-6 Lesson for Sunday School:
Moses: Daily Bread from Heaven
Teacher’s Notes: Last week the Israelites complained that they were thirsty. And God provided them with sweet water to drink. This week, we’re going to find them complaining, again; this time that they’re hungry. And, again, we’ll find God meeting their needs. And in the process, the Israelites are going to learn some new lessons; like trusting God to meet their needs on a daily basis, the cost of disobedience, and a new tradition – the Sabbath.
How many of you like to drink milk? Milk tastes wonderful when it’s fresh. But what happens to milk when we don’t keep it cold? Have you ever tasted or smelled milk that has been left out and gotten sour? It sure can smell awful!
Do you remember learning last week that God used the bitter water to test the Israelites, to see whether they would learn to trust Him? How had they responded to being thirsty? Did they turn to God, in faith, trusting that He would provide? (Allow the students to respond first.) No, they didn’t. They became angry and complained to Moses. But God provided the water that they desperately needed, anyway; then reminded them that He expected them to listen to Him and keep His commandments.
In our lesson this week, God’s going to be testing the Israelites again; this time with food instead of water. But this time there will be consequences for disobedience. And one of those consequences will involve food that quickly spoils…even faster than milk. And God gives them this kind of food to teach them an important lesson…to trust Him for their daily bread.
This week’s memory verse reminds us that God wants us to trust Him for our daily needs, too. Let’s learn the verse…and then take a look at this special food that God prepared for His chosen people.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the many lessons we can learn through studying the life of Moses, in Your Word. Please help us today, Lord, to have ears ready to listen and hearts ready to learn about You. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: (Moses: Daily Bread from Heaven from Exodus 16)
For those of you who’ve been with us for the last several lessons, perhaps you’ve begun to see a pattern developing for the Israelites. God has allowed them to get into some pretty tough situations. And every time He has provided them a way out.
Can anyone remind us of what experiences the Israelites have had, and how God has provided?
Each time, God had taken care of them. But so far, they haven’t seemed to learn what God has been trying to teach them…that they can always trust Him to provide for their needs. So God has another test prepared for the Israelites. And we find it right at the beginning of this week’s passage.
1And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
2And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Does any of this sound familiar? First of all, the Israelites were in another tough spot…they are very hungry. So what did they do about it? Did they turn to God, trusting Him to provide? No. What did they do instead? Yes, once again, their first reaction was to complain to Moses and Aaron. And it sounds very much like the complaining they did at the edge of the Red Sea. Do you remember what they were wishing for at that time? In their moment of fear and lack of faith in God, they told Moses that they wished that they could go back to being slaves in Egypt, rather than dying in the wilderness.
Have you ever heard the expression “selective memory?” That’s when we remember only certain parts of the past…the parts that fit in with what we’re thinking right now. Well, the Israelites seem to have had frequent bouts of selective memory. For once again, they were wishing they could go back to Egypt. But were they remembering all of the suffering they endured there? Did they remember how they’d cried out to God for someone to deliver them. No. They couldn’t think past the rumbling in their bellies. So they thought back to the foods they had to eat back in Egypt.
Have you ever been hungry? Really hungry? There are some places in this world where people never have to worry about where their next meal will come from. Their stomachs may have growled a few times in their lives. But they don’t truly know what it’s like to really be hungry – to miss entire meals, or perhaps go days without proper food to eat.
But in other places, food can be scarce, and adults as well as children may be literally starving because there just isn’t any food to eat. Perhaps this is what the Israelites were experiencing. But hadn’t God just shown them that He could meet their needs? No doubt God is still trying to “prove” them. Do you remember the verse we read about that from last week’s passage? Let’s look at it again.
“And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,” (Exodus 15:25)
God had brought a test into the lives of His people to “prove” or test them, to see if they would trust Him. And with our passage, today, He has done the same thing. Do you think they’re doing very well on their tests? It doesn’t seem like it. But God didn’t give up on them. He went right ahead, and provided for their needs, once again, like He’d done in the past. And once again, He did it in a miraculous way. Let’s find out what God did to fill these hungry people.
4Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
5And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
6And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
7And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
9And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
11And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
We’ve just read quite a few verses, and in a moment we’re going to take a closer look at just what it was that God provided for the Israelites to eat. But before we do that, there are a couple of things that God had to say along the way that we shouldn’t miss.
The first is back in verse 4. Did anyone happen to hear what God said about why He was going to provide the food in the way that He did? It sounds very much like what He said about the water. Listen again to what verse 4 said: “the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.” God is going to use even the way the gather in the food He sends, to test them and see if they will follow His instructions.
Why do you suppose God keeps testing His people? Couldn’t He just go ahead and meet their needs before they even ask? For those of you who go to school, do you have to take tests? Why do your teachers give you tests? (Allow the students to answer first) Teachers give tests for a couple of reasons. One is to make sure you’ve heard the lesson they’ve been teaching. They’re checking to be sure you now have all of the right information in your head. The other thing they’re looking for in a test is to see if you’ve really learned the information…do you really understand what it means, and will you be able to use it in the future? God is leading His people to a new life, in a new country. He wants to be absolutely sure that they fully understand who He is, and that He is capable of taking care of them, and deserves their obedience and worship. He’s testing them now so they’ll be ready for anything that might come their way as they become a new nation under His leadership.
Another point we shouldn’t miss in this passage comes a little farther down, in verse 8. In their relatively short journey, Moses had already had to listen to quite a bit of complaining. And before the Israelites went any further, Moses wanted them to understand the full impact of what they were doing. Listen, again, to verse 8, and what Moses had to say about their complaints. “And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.”
Wow! Do you think any of the Israelites had thought about that, before? That they weren’t just complaining to Moses and Aaron; but they were complaining to God, Himself? God had brought the Israelites to this place intentionally. They knew that because they had followed His cloud and pillar to get there. They also knew that Moses and Aaron were chosen by God to lead them. That’s why God had given them the signs to show the people (remember the rod that changed to a snake, the hand that became leprous, then changed back, and the water turned to blood). God said that those signs were to show the people that He had chosen Moses and Aaron to lead them. That’s why God took these complaints so personally.
And what about us? Do we ever complain to your mom or dad, or teachers, or bosses when they ask us to do something? Or when we’re not happy about something we have or don’t have? Have we ever considered the possibility that it’s not just our parents or teachers we’re complaining to, but that like the Israelites, we’re complaining to God, too? He is, after all, the one who placed you in the family, and school, and job that you’re in. He’s the one who provides, through your parents, everything that you have. So next time we open our mouths to complain, perhaps we should remember this lesson, and instead of complaining, thank God for the wonderful things He’s provided for us.
Now, what was this wonderful food that God had provided for the Israelites? God described it as bread that would rain from Heaven. And the Israelites called it “manna.” According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word “manna” simply means “what is it?” Never before had the Israelites seen anything like this bread that God had left for them when the dew evaporated on the ground. We can learn a little bit about this mystery food if we jump ahead to verses 31. There, we find that manna “was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Coriander seeds are a dried fruit with a “warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavored.” That sounds pretty tasty! There are some people who believe that since God said it was “bread from heaven,” that those who have invited Jesus Christ into their lives as their Savior will one day be able to eat manna in Heaven. Do you think you’d like to try some?
It seemed like the Israelites weren’t quite sure what to do with the manna. But God, as part of the latest test, gave them very specific instructions about when to gather it, and what to do with it. From verses 14 through 18 (you may want to reread them at this time), we see that the Israelites were to go out in the morning, just after the dew was gone, and gather up the manna according to how many people were in their families. They were to gather as much as they would need for that day, no more and no less. They were not to try to save any for the next day.
And there was the test. It would be tempting for the Israelites to want to gather up all they could to save it for the next day. That way, they could be sure of having food for the next day, and they wouldn’t have to go back out and gather as often.
Why do you think God only wanted them to gather enough for one day? Do any of you know the passage in the New Testament known as “The Lord’s Prayer?” It is a pattern for prayer that Jesus, Himself, gave to the disciples. And in it, you’ll find today’s memory verse: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) God wants us to learn to rely on Him to meet every need that we have, on a daily basis. He doesn’t want us to count on our faith from yesterday being enough to get us through today. He wants us to come to Him every single day with our prayers and thanksgiving.
Only supplying food for one day guaranteed God that the Israelites would have to learn to trust Him, each new day, to provide the manna He had promised. So what happened if they disobeyed, and took more manna than they needed? God was so intent on teaching the Israelites to trust Him that He created it to spoil quickly. Remember how we talked earlier about how bad milk and other foods smell when they spoil? Well, listen what happened to the manna if it was kept too long:
19And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
Another failed test for some of the Israelites. Whether it was because they didn’t trust God to provide again the next day, or because they were lazy and didn’t want to have to go out the next morning to gather more, there were some Israelites who disobeyed the words of Moses, and kept their extra manna for the next morning. And Moses noticed! Don’t you wonder just how many of them tried to keep it, if the smell was bad enough that people outside the homes were able to smell it? Yuk! God wanted His people to clearly understand that there would be consequences for disobeying Him.
But there was an exception to the gathering rules. And it leads us to the establishment of a new custom for the Israelites…the Sabbath. If we go back in our passage to verse 5, God made a special allowance for extra gathering on one particular day. Let’s take a look at what God said, and how the Israelites followed his instructions.
5And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
22And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
24And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
25And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
What was so special about that seventh day, that God would want to set it apart as a “holy Sabbath?” If we jump ahead just a few chapters in the book of Exodus, to when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, we can see why the seventh day was special to God. The fourth commandment says this:
8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
A Sabbath (or rest) day was established by God all the way back at creation. He had created our entire universe in six days, then had rested on the seventh. And He wanted His people to have that same pattern for their lives. They were to work for six days, but on the seventh, they were to follow His example, and rest.
In our passage for this week’s lesson, God had not yet given this commandment to Moses. But He was laying the groundwork for it in how He had planned to provide the manna. Let’s go back to today’s passage, in Exodus chapter 16, and see how the Israelites did following God’s proclamation of a Sabbath day.
27And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather [manna], and they found none.
28And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
29See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
30So the people rested on the seventh day.
Sure enough, there were people who disobeyed this instruction, too. Do you suppose it was the same people who tried to keep the extra manna the first night? We don’t know the answer to that question. But isn’t it hard to believe that the Israelites are still questioning God’s words? Time after time God has shown Himself faithful. And He has reminded them that they need to obey His commandments. But there were still some who went out on that seventh day, expecting to find the manna that they were told wouldn’t be there. It must be that they also hadn’t listened to or obeyed the instruction to gather extra on the sixth day. We aren’t told that these people were punished by God for their disobedience. But perhaps their rumbling stomachs by the end of that day were enough of a lesson.
In the coming weeks, we’re going to find that God isn’t finished brining tests into the lives of the Israelites. We’re also going to find that the Israelites are going to continue on with their pattern of complaining and not trusting God. But God is going to keep right on loving them, and caring for them, because they are His chosen people. And while many of us are not Jewish by race, the Bible tells us that we can be God’s adopted children, just by accepting the gift of salvation that God offered to the Israelites. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, can to save them, and He came to save us, too. If you haven’t trusted Christ to be your Savior, won’t you consider doing that, even today. He wants to be your God, and take care of you, just as He did those in the wilderness. But as it was with the Israelites, the choice is up to you.
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, what a wonderful God You are. You are so faithful to us, even when we are not trusting You. Thank You for continuing to love us and care for us. And Lord, if there’s anyone here, today, who has not placed their trust in You, please let today be the day that they open their hearts, and ask You to come in and be that Lord and provider that You so much want to be. Amen.
Class Discussion/ Activity:
Do you remember last week how we learned that even better than the sweet water at Marah was the “living water” that Jesus offered to the Samaritan woman at the well? Just as Jesus offers us that special water, He also has a bread that is greater than the manna He provided for the Israelites. Listen to the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John:
30They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
31Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
The manna that God had sent to the Israelites fed them for forty years. But Jesus tells us that He, Himself, is the bread of life that came from Heaven. And that the bread He offers is forever…we will never have to hunger again. Now Jesus is not referring here to a physical hunger. When we ask Him into our hearts, we will still need to eat nourishing foods to keep our bodies healthy. But the bread that Jesus offers is far more important because it gives us eternal life. Have you taken this “bread of life” that Jesus offers you? If not, you can do that today! (Pray with the students now, offering an invitation to accept Jesus as their Savior, or invite the students to talk with you at the end of class if they would like to know more about receiving Christ as their Savior.)
Have the class discuss the following Fill in the Blank and True or False questions to review today’s lesson.
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. The Israelites trusted God to provide food when they were hungry. (false – they complained to Moses and Aaron)
2. God planned to use the manna to test the Israelites. (true)
3. The Israelites were told to gather only enough manna for one day. (true)
4. Everyone followed the instructions, and no one had manna left over the next morning. (false – some kept it overnight, and it became wormy and smelly)
5. Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Bread of Life. (true)
Bread of Life
If you’re a hungering soul,
Then come to Jesus Christ.
He’s what you’ve always searched for,
The heavenly Bread of Life.
*Information on the word “manna” was obtained at http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongsexhaustiveconcordance/,
**Information on coriander seed was obtained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander
Lisa DeVinney, May 2015