I am the living bread which came down from heaven:
if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever:
and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
Exodus 16:1-2 on the fifteenth day of the second month… the children of Israel murmured
There are two sides to this coin. On one side, we are amazed that the Israelites are complaining and whining only 45 days since they have left the slavery of Egypt. Did they miss their soft bed and plentiful food? Was freedom overrated after all? Or was it that they just didn’t like camping?
The other side of the coin is this: one of the most trying human conditions is hunger. One million people are competing for the same scraps of food in the desert. Who wouldn’t be a little whiney after a few days of real hunger?
Exodus 16:4 Behold, I will rain bread from heaven… that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no
And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them…
And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. (Abr. 3:25, 27)
The oft quoted passage from Abraham has become part of the daily LDS narrative—an essential component of the message of the restored gospel. But how new is this doctrine? Doesn’t Exodus send the same message as Abraham? God sends bread from heaven, and sees if his people will be obedient. He sends his Son to redeem all mankind, but requires that men strive to “do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them,” “that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no.”
Ezra Taft Benson
The great test of life is obedience to God. “We will prove them herewith,” said the Lord, “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).
The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it.
The great commandment of life is to love the Lord. (Ensign, May 1988, 4)
Exodus 16:8 your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord
Let’s rephrase this:
- “Your complaint is not against the Bishop; it’s against the Lord.”
- “Your complaint is not against the Stake President; it’s against the Lord.”
- “Your complaint is not against the Brethren; it’s against the Lord.”
A common misconception when Latter-Day Saints disagree with the presiding authority is that God really agrees with them. “If only God had heard the entire discussion, He would certainly agree with me.” Hereby, they take license to take pot shots at the Bishop or Stake President. What they fail to recognize is that the Lord backs up his servants—"he has their back," to use a colloquial term. So when we complain about the Bishop, we are really complaining about the Lord.
Dallin H. Oaks
The Bible teaches that rejection of or murmuring against the counsel of the Lord’s servants amounts to actions against the Lord himself. How could it be otherwise? The Lord acts through his servants. That is the pattern he has established to safeguard our agency in mortality. His servants are not perfect, which is another consequence of mortality. But if we murmur against the Lord’s servants, we are working against the Lord and his cause and will soon find ourselves without the companionship of his Spirit. (“Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 71)
Exodus 16:12 in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God
Suppose that we had done our best and had not raised one bushel of grain this year, I have confidence enough in my God to believe that we could stay here, and not starve to death. If all our cattle had died through the severity of the past winter, if the insects had cut off all our crops, if we still proved faithful to our God and to our religion, I have confidence to believe that the Lord would send manna and flocks of quails to us. But He will not do this, if we murmur and are neglectful and disunited.
Not having breadstuff nor manna, if we are cut off from those resources, from our provisions, the Lord can fill these mountains and valleys with antelope, mountain sheep, elk, deer, and other animals; He can cause the buffalo to take a stampede on the east side of the Rocky mountains, and fill these mountains and valleys with beef; I have just that confidence in my God. I have confidence enough to believe that if we had not raised our own provisions this year, and had proved true and faithful to our God and to our religion, that the Lord would have given us a little bread… This is my confidence in my God. I am no more concerned about this people's suffering unto death, than I am concerned about the sun's falling out of its orbit and ceasing to shine on this earth again. (Journal of Discourses 4:25-26)
I recollect when we were forced away from Nauvoo, at the point of the bayonet, and when we crossed the river to the Iowa side there were hundreds of our people camped along the shore, and what had they to eat, or to make themselves comfortable with, in the scorching sun and burning with fevers? Nothing. We wanted meat and other comforts, but we had not the means to procure them, and the Lord in mercy sent clouds of quails right into camp. They came into the tents, flew into the wagons, rested on the wagon wheels, ox yokes and wagon tongues, and our little children could catch them, and there was an abundant supply of meat for the time being. Who financiered that…? It was the mercy and generosity of kind Providence. (Journal of Discourses, 17:7)
Heber C. Kimball
Shall we ever be brought to want? I tell you, if we live our religion, we never shall. Cannot God Almighty send manna here, honey, and everything else, just as well as he could in the days of Moses? This is the last dispensation, and it has got all the power, the interest, the miracles that were in all of them, and tenfold more. (Journal of Discourses, 5:94)
Exodus 16:13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp
The record of Exodus tries to summarize events that are treated more comprehensively later. In this instance, it appears that the quails and manna commence at the same time. Numbers 11 suggests that the people had no quail at the first. Nothing but manna for every meal until they got sick of it. They had prepared it every way imaginable, they “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” (Numb. 11:8) In spite of the great taste, they just can’t eat another meal of manna, “now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” (Numb. 11:6)
So Moses promised them some flesh according to their lusts. They would eat quail for “a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord… And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” (Numb. 11:20, 33)
Exodus 16:15 It is manna: for they wist not what it was
What do you call something that falls out of heaven and tastes like honey and fresh oil? If shaped like snow, it might have been named “Frosted Flakes.” The Israelites are surprised, “what is it?” You can get a sense for the incredulity when you think of what the term manna really means. They saw it, said in Hebrew “what is it?” and the name stuck.
Exodus 16:19-28 How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
The lesson for us is to be obedient with exactness. Moses told the people not to keep manna overnight; they did anyway. He told them not to go out gathering manna on the Sabbath, but they did anyway. Freethinkers! All of them. Apparently, they knew better than Moses.
Hartman rector Jr.
[God] did not say it would be “nice” if we keep the commandments. He says “they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them.” (D&C 42:13) Surely obedience is the first law of heaven. We are given to understand that there will be no disobedience in the celestial kingdom. It is therefore vitally important that we keep the commandments with exactness and not just “almost.”
The account of the Lamanite striplings in the Book of Mormon as mentioned by Elder Monson is an excellent illustration of the blessings that flow from precise obedience. Helaman had formed them into an army of 2,060 young men who fought on the side of the Nephites, and when they were fighting for the Nephites, the Nephites could not lose.
At one time 200 of them were so badly wounded that they fainted from the loss of blood. When they were carried from the battlefield, it was thought they were dead, but they weren’t. They came back to life again—it seemed they could not be killed. What was their secret? It is recorded in Alma 57:21: “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness. …”
Yes, they gave their mothers credit for teaching them, but they kept the commandments with exactness. This is the great secret. It is so important that we be in condition to serve the Lord, and condition comes only through obedience. (Ensign, Jan. 1974, 105–106)
F. Enzio Busche
Perhaps we may have permitted small bad habits or attitudes to enter into our lives; or perhaps we have even lost to some degree an understanding of the importance of keeping a covenant with exactness. If so, we are in a dangerous state. We must become aware of it. We cannot afford to ignore the situation. (Ensign, May 1989, 72)
Exodus 16:33-34 Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord
What was in the ark of the covenant? Not just the 10 commandments were kept in the ark but also this famous omer of manna. Now while the sun would melt manna, we must assume that God’s power will preserve this manna in the ark for the Millennium.
“The ark of the covenant is the only object that is placed within the Holy of Holies. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the high priest enters the Holy of Holies, asking G-d to forgive the transgressions of the entire house of Israel. Made of wood covered with gold, it contained within it, during the period of the First Temple, the Two Tablets of the Law brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses, as well as a vessel containing mannah, and the staff of Aharon.” (http://www.templeinstitute.org/vessels_gallery_14.htm)