Home thoughts from

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


March 2022

Exodus 17:4-6: Listen to God

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.’

5 The Lord answered Moses, ‘Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 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.’ So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

‘God does not crash your party. He waits for you to wake up. If I am too absorbed in my own affairs, if I am too impressed with my own religion, too intent on bringing my truth as I understand it to the world, I will not seek him, and I will not seek him appropriately. I will do it halfheartedly. The promise is never halfhearted seeking. You will recall, he says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).’ Dallas Willard, ‘Living in Christ’s presence.’

‘The promise is never halfhearted seeking.’ I found that to be the most arresting phrase when I came across it yesterday. There was nothing ‘halfhearted’ about Moses’ prayer. He uttered a desperate cry from the heart in dire circumstances, and He received ‘wonderful counsel’ from the ‘Wonderful Counsellor.’

The Lord answered definitely, specifically and clearly. When God speaks, we may not understand why He shows us to do certain things, but He has His reasons and it is for us to obey.

The American missionary, Frank Laubach, said:

‘Prayer at its highest is a two-way conversation – and for me the most important part is listening to God’s replies.’


‘The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen’ and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him our ideas.’

PRAYER: Lord, please give me ‘ears to hear.’

Thought: The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent’.’ Alfred Brendel.

Exodus 17:4: ‘Take it to the Lord in prayer’

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.’

Moses asked for wisdom (James 1:5,6), and he received (see verses 5,6 here).

He described his dilemma and gave expression to his fear. He took it ‘to the Lord in prayer’

Pray for church leaders to be prayerful. It is incongruous for any of us to try to ‘figure it out’ for ourselves. The church needs leaders who both talk to God and listen to Him.

‘The prayer level of a church never rises any higher than the personal example and passion of the leaders. The quantity and quality of prayer in leadership meetings is the essential indicator of the amount of prayer that will eventually arise among the congregation.’ Daniel Henderson.

Exodus 17:2,3: Mustn’t grumble!

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?’

3 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?’

Once again they treated Moses unfairly:

  • They attributed to him unfair blame;
  • They made of him an unrealistic request;
  • They credited him with an impossible feat.

As we have seen before, grumbling does not belong in the walk of faith. It is incompatible and inappropriate.

PRAYER: Lord, when things go wrong on my journey (or seem to go wrong), let my attitude be right.

Exodus 17:1: Led by God

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.

I can honestly say that I want all my movements to be ordered by the Lord. As I look back on the years since being in Bible College, I believe God took me to Southport, then led me to Lancaster, then to Leeds, and then to Boston Spa, where I have served for the majority of my years in Christian ministry. I’m grateful that I don’t look back with regrets or ‘What if’s?’ I’m sure the Divine Guide led me “from place to place.” This doesn’t mean it’s always been easy. At times it’s felt like a ‘wilderness.’ But I wouldn’t change my route through life because I believe it’s been ordained by God, and I’m profoundly grateful for the journey – right up to this point of coming to another ‘fork in the road.’

This passage, though, is primarily about a “community” of people, and so it causes us to think about the Lord’s leadership of His church. He does guide individuals, but He also directs the church of which He is the Lord.

But here’s the thing: in the walk of faith, we may well be led to places where our faith is tested. It’s not unusual. Remember, the children of Israel were not out of the will of God at “Rephidim”, but very much in it; and He was going to graciously prove Himself to them once again.

Exodus 16:31-36: What do you keep in that jar?

The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: “Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.”’

33 So Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.’

34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, that it might be preserved. 35 The Israelites ate manna for forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

36 (An omer is one tenth of an ephah.)

It was a great miracle that 2 million people were fed in the wilderness for 40 years. God wanted this to be remembered; He desired that the miracle be memorialised. He wants His church, in all generations, to believe that He is able to supply every need.

Is there any equivalent for us, I wonder? Are there in ways we can preserve the great deeds of the Lord in our lives for the sake of future generations? What can we do to pass on the faith-building lessons from our own pilgrimages?

Exodus 16:21-30: The Sabbath principle

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much – two omers for each person – and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, ‘This is what the Lord commanded: “Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.”’

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 ‘Eat it today,’ Moses said, ‘because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.’

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.’ 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

The pattern of only gathering enough for each day was interrupted once a week so that the Sabbath could be honoured.

Again we see it is vital to obey God to the letter. There were unwanted consequences for failing to do so. God’s Word is to be taken seriously.

Note the simple and wonderful truth that God makes it possible for His people to do what He commands (29).

As Christians we are not obligated to worship God on a Saturday, but I believe the principle of ‘sabbath’ holds good. The structure of six days of work and one of rest is built into the order of creation. It is good to realise that the universe goes on without our busy involvement. God was running it before we were born, and He will continue to run it after we have gone!

Here is an honest confession from an article written by Dru Johnson: ‘Christians should be marked by a sense of stillness, practices of stillness. If I am honest about it, I am terrified of being still because it quietly affirms that I am not in charge.’


‘For best results, follow the Maker’s instructions!’

‘There are more important things to do than hurry.’ Robert Farrar Capon.

Exodus 16:19,20: “Do whatever he tells you”

Then Moses said to them, ‘No one is to keep any of it until morning.’

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

God wanted His people to trust Him for their ‘daily bread.’

It is essential for us to obey what God says to us: first and foremost what He says in His written Word, but also as He speaks in that unmistakable ‘still, small voice’ to our spirits. We may not understand His instructions, but there will be consequences (and inevitable regret) if we do not obey.

Alec Motyer writes: ‘Let us learn the lesson: it is the will of God that gives purpose to life. There is always the ‘bigger picture’ of which he is aware and we are not…Obedience and blessing are conjoined twins.’ ‘The message of Exodus’, pp.181, 183.

“God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.” Elisabeth Elliot.

Mary’s words about her Son, addressed to the servants at the wedding in Cana, should be heeded by all disciples: “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5).

PRAYER: Lord, please keep showing me the next step, and give me the grace to take it.

Exodus 16:14,15: A holy mystery

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.

There is a holy mystery about God’s provision.

I have read that, at times, in Hudson Taylor’s orphanages, they did not know where the next meal was coming from. But they gave thanks all the same, and then found food on the doorstep. What is that but a holy mystery? It causes you to wonder and marvel.

Similarly, you can read missionary stories where there was some great need and they prayed, and the right amount of money came through at just the right time. It probably took weeks – even months – for the mail to travel by sea! This is indeed a holy mystery. The person sending the gift, whether from the UK or elsewhere, just felt prompted to send it when they did, and it arrived right on time. This is truly wonderful.

God hasn’t changed. He knows just what we need and can get it to His people just when it is needed.

I know someone who found himself with an unexpected bill. He and his wife sought to live responsibly in their financial management, but they didn’t have a huge income, and this was just one of those ‘out of the blue’ things that was above and beyond what they had planned for. Also, the bill was for an unusual amount – say, for the sake of argument, something like £91 as opposed to a round figure such as £100. Anyway, he and his wife decided to simply ‘take it to the Lord in prayer.’ They told no-one else about it. One Sunday, not long after they prayed, a person at church handed him an envelope. It was a gift from someone in another church, and it was for the exact amount needed! Holy mystery indeed! This person has had remarkable experiences of God’s provision throughout his life, but I know he often thinks back to this one as a staggering example of God’s eye being upon ‘the sparrow.’

PRAYER: Lord God, teach me to trust you in everything, and grant that I may grow in faith. Thank you that you are Jehovah-Jireh – the God who provides

Exodus 16:13-18: All your needs

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 commanded: “Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.”’

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

Paul writes in Philippians 4:18: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Every Christian needs to grasp the principle that the Lord will supply all our needs. This doesn’t give us license to be lazy. Neither does it absolve us of the responsibility to give as we are able. (Paul wrote his words in the context of a congregation sending gifts to help him). We should do what we can to supply our own needs, using the health and strength and abilities God has given us in order to make a living. But where, after doing all we can, there is still a gap to be made up, we can trust the God who knows us individually and who recognises the differences between different people’s needs. (Remember, this is about ‘needs’ not ‘greeds’).

The arrival of the quail was a one-time event (see verse 12), not a daily provision. Later on, God would provide quail once more, but under different circumstances (Nu.11:31-34). However, throughout the long pilgrimage of the Israelites, God really did provide a “table in the wilderness” (Ps.78:19), and He still can.

In the New Testament, Paul taught the principle of equality and referred to this passage (2 Cor.8:13-15) when encouraging the wealthier Gentile Christians to contribute to an offering for their poorer brethren who were suffering in Jerusalem at the time.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: