“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ ” Exodus 16:28-29
In our discussion of Israel’s petitions to Pharaoh we didn’t talk about their request to keep the Sabbath. This was one of their first requests and Pharaoh became so angry about it that he called them lazy and commanded that they had to gather their own straw for making bricks and that they had to make just as many bricks as they had before.
This episode with the bricks is the first mention of the Sabbath in the book of Exodus. The second occurs in chapter sixteen and is associated with the giving of the manna.
God had given them very specific instructions regarding what to expect with the manna and those instructions came in such a way that they were virtually guaranteed to make an impression. On days one through five no matter how much time they spent gathering they always collected one omer of manna per person but on the sixth day when they gathered the one omer became two.
When they showed it to Moses he told them it was because the seventh day was the Sabbath and no manna would fall so God had provided for them a double portion on the sixth day.
Everyone had experienced the double portion. Everyone had heard the explanation. Yet still a good number of people went out on the seventh day to collect manna and were dismayed to find no food.
When God gave his rebuke through Moses he said, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments…” You would have thought that after all their experiences Israel would have learned that God means what he says and that he has reasons for all his laws and instructions and that those reasons always include their well being and best interests.
As the reprimand continues it says, “the Lord has given you the Sabbath….”
Nowhere in the book of Exodus is God recorded “giving” the Sabbath to the people of Israel. There’s a lot of time devoted to the sabbaths importance and quite a bit of instruction on how to keep it but these are all reminders of God’s gift of the Sabbath not times in which he gives it to them.
It’s the book of Genesis that records the time when God gave the Sabbath and it was at the same time as when he gave the seven day week. At creation. He gave it to everyone.
In our pursuit of a new, a more scientific, a more educated and intelligent world and way of living we need to be careful that we don’t abandon the best gifts God’s given. One of those gifts is the Sabbath. In it he gives us rest and in it he gives us time with him. The question is, will we remember?