Big Idea: God shows his love for us through provision.
May is a big month for birthdays in our wider family generally – we just had a new addition in May a couple of weeks ago – and in our house specifically. Cait, Seamus and Jo all have their birthdays in May.
In fact, this week our daughter Cait had her birthday on Thursday and our son Seamus had his birthday on Friday. Just one day apart.
Since these two were very young this week in May has always been a big one. As we celebrate these two days in the ways that the kids enjoy.
They get to choose breakfast, dinner, style of cake. They invite friends and family over. And of course, give presents that they will like.
This is one opportunity for us as parents to express our love for our kids.
Now I’ll reset and get ready for Jo’s birthday, work on my love language for that one.
How does our heavenly Father express his love to us? What is God’s love language?
I want to answer that from our passage today.
The first of our two clues comes from Exodus 16 and 17 where,
v1 It’s about 6 weeks after Israel’s rescue from Egypt and their escape through the Red Sea.
They are now leaving the oasis of Elim (15:27) and are heading for Mt Sinai and that journey will take this very large congregation, hundreds of thousands of people, through the very barren wilderness.
Now God’s love language isn’t grumbling (don’t think it’s anyone’s love language) but that is what the people are doing (7x in ch 16).
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.”
Their grumbling tummies have given them grumbling hearts.
They are hungry, humanly speaking there is no solution. A massive crowd in an arid landscape. Where can they find enough food? They can not see a solution.
In fact, they are not seeing straight at all Egypt was good, God is bad (v3).
They are saying to God you don’t love us.
v3 … you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.
But God does love them. v4 Instead of raining down judgment from heaven He will rain down bread from heaven.
God says 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. [toast in the morning and meat at night – the wilderness diet. Might write a book. But look, God says,] Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.‘” [I am the one who has attached his name to you. I love you]
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?” [that’s where the name manna comes from] For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat… ‘”
God promises that he will sustain his people and he does. Meat that evening and manna in the morning.
A bit like a Woolies home delivery. Bet the heavenly bread is better than Woolies bread.
Psalm 78 calls it the bread of angels. The people are being little devils but God in his love gives them the bread of angels. God is expressing his love language.
Merciful, miraculous bread from a loving God. For God so loved his people that he sent his bread from heaven that whoever ate it might not perish in the wilderness but have life.
Did they deserve God’s favour? Not at all. They have seen and experienced the works of his mighty arm – his wonders of salvation. They wailed under the oppression of slavery, he heard their cry, came down and rescued them.
He lead them through the walls of water in the Red Sea and closed those same waters onto their fierce and frightening enemies.
They’ve seen this first-hand, they’ve sung the songs. And yet here they are forgetting God’s love and doubting his power.
Their grumbling tummies have given them grumbling hearts.
And yet, in his great love, God speaks grace. Our heavenly Father is gracious toward his people.
Having learned their lesson Israel resumes their journey Exodus 17 and they live happily ever after content in the loving care of their God.
Just like us living here today!?! Not quite… on either account.
The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, travelling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?“
Have you not seen? Are you not listening?
One of my favourite birthday cards has a picture of three old guys walking along the beach. The first one says, “It’s windy today.” The second says, “No it’s Thursday.” The third one says, “Me too let’s get a drink.”
Of course, the card suggests that I’m getting old and hard of hearing, but it does it with humour so all good.
But what is not good is that Israel is hard of hearing.
I’m assuming they have been out to gather their breakfast, manna from heaven their bellies are full and now they’d just like a cup of tea but there is no water.
And their first thought is not, Wow! It’s amazing how God has provided us with manna every day, even as we travel around I wonder how he will look after us now that we need some water.
No, their first thought is God hates me!
But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
Their grumbling tongues reveal unbelieving hearts.
When they were at church back in chapter 15 on the shores of the Red Sea singing songs of praise to God for his marvellous salvation, while the remnants of a once powerful foe washed up around their ankles, this was one of the lines they sang together…
Read 15:13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
They are quite rightly celebrating the God who redeems his people. And delighting in His promise of a new home.
Understand this. Expressing the truth of God through songs at church is very different from trusting in God through the wilderness trials of life.
Here are some verses from our opening song today.
I can sing with my whole heart, I have all I need In Jesus, my Saviour, my joy is complete Onward to glory yet here I will wait I will trust in Christ every step I take I am sure of Your promise to guide me each day Though some may oppose me, I won’t be ashamed Whatever I face, Lord, it won’t be in vain I will trust in Christ every step I take
Now I’m sure that when we sang that you absolutely meant it. And as we read it again you affirm it.
And I’m sure there will be times this week when you will fail. You will not see the bigger picture of God’s loving provision, you will not have your eyes set on glory, and you will be ashamed.
But our confidence is not in the emotion or gusto of our singing, nor our capacity for obedience and courage, but in the truth that God is ever the gracious sustainer of his people.
v6 God says to Moses …
“I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”
Because God loves his people God is with us, He sustains us, even in our times of doubt and failure.
Another clue about God’s love language is his saving actions.
While the people are enjoying the water at Rephidim v8 the Amalekites came and attacked.
In v9, we meet Joshua for the first time when Moses commands him to choose an army to fight the Amalekites, while Moses grabs the staff.
God gives his people something to do, march out and fight. But it won’t be Israel who secures the victory. It is God who, because of his love for them, saves his people.
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
So (v13) Moses holds up his hands all day with the help of Aaron and Hur and at sunset, the Amalekites are overcome with the sword.
Lots of conjecture about what Moses was doing. Was it magic, prayer, or inspiration? Is the staff a conduit of God’s judgment?
Bible doesn’t say specifically (although I don’t think it was magic) but we read in v14b … I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.
When you pick on God’s people you are taking on God and disrespecting his glory. Saul, Saul why do you persecute ME? Acts 9:4
Warn a divisive person [someone stirring up the church, causing division. Warn them] once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11
At the very least Moses’ action signified that it was God who won the battle. And it will be God who eventually blots out those opposed to his plan, the rescue of his people whom he loves.
During the week Jo and I attended a QCAT tribunal hearing where we were trying to get our rental bond released, we were trying to get our money back.
This issue had been going on since November last year. We finally got the letter informing us of the hearing date. So in we went on Wednesday. Just after we got there three representatives from the Real Estate agent arrived carrying thick files. Looked like our case was doomed. But in the end we didn’t need to say a word. The adjudicator listened briefly to the RE submission then declined their appeal, and issued a scathing reprimand concerning their behaviour. Reprehensible. And ordered that our money be released. We did our part, we turned up. But the case was settled on our behalf by the adjudicator. The only thing I said, in the whole hearing was thank you.
And, as it turns out that is the only correct response to God’s loving plan of salvation. Thank you.
We see that at the beginning of Exodus 18. Jethro, Moses’ F-I-L, is a Midianite, he is a foreigner.
But when he hears about God’s rescue plan he doesn’t oppose it like Amalek but he rejoices, says thank you.
Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians.
11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
Jethro hears and delights in the good news relayed by Moses. He seeks and receives forgiveness and fellowship through appropriate sacrifices. And he is welcomed into the family of God.
Here is the good news of Jesus, the gospel in OT clothing. The good news of salvation received through hearing. Forgiveness gained, through a saving sacrifice. Welcome into the family of God.
Saved for a purpose. What looks like organisational technique (v13-27) actually highlights God’s purpose for the saved.
Read v 20
Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.
Lives lived in devotion to God. Growing in understanding and so delight. Living godly lives, lives of devotion to him.
Jerry Bridges, Fearing, loving, and desiring God in increasing measure.
Fearing God – understanding his holiness and poverty before him. Loving God – understanding his love and grace for us. Desiring God – actively seeking to know him more and delighting in him more.
God’s love language we see is spoken to the nations as well as Israel.
In fact, God’s plan was always to speak this language of love and the offer of salvation to all nations through his chosen people as they live out lives of devotion to him.
It formed a part of God’s promise to Abraham and it featured in Jesus’ parting words to the church. All Nations.
According to author and counsellor Gary Chapman there are 5 Love Languages. Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation.
What is God’s love language? It’s Provision. He is not bound by human categories.
According to an article I read online certain branches of psycology question if the Love Languages are even a thing.
But when it comes to God his love language, provision, is very clear and very real.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
God’s love language is – provision. The giving of His precious Son, his death for our life. Providing the way for us so that we will not perish. Salvation born of forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus so that we are free from the fear and sting of death or the guilt and debt of sin. And in Jesus providing for us a mediator who daily says to the Father, this one’s mine.
Timothy Keller passed away on Friday (Seamus’ birthday). Seems fitting to quote him here.
“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope.”
The only correct response is … thank you, sorry, please.
Will you join me now as I lead with this prayer?
Thank you Lord thank you that you are a loving God who provides for his people. Thank you for this life that you have given me. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. Lord, thank you.
Sorry Lord, I am sorry that I don’t love you and honour you as I should. Lord, I am sorry that I say no to you and don’t walk in your direction, in your ways. Lord, I am sorry.
Please Lord, please help me to grow in godly fear and love and desire for you. Lord, please help me to always trust in your word. Lord, please give me all I need to live for you today.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.