Five days of provision had gone by. The manna fell faithfully as God’s people continued to rebel. Moses was mad over their stubbornness, disobedience, and unbelief.
When the sixth day came, they gathered twice as much manna. Apparently, they had some knowledge at this time about a Sabbath rest – even before the law was given or Moses had specifically instructed them. It wasn’t until after they had gathered twice as much bread on the sixth day that Moses gave the formal instructions on what to do on the sixth and seventh days.
“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” ~Exodus 16:23
Do you think these people listened? Do these people ever listen? No. They wanted more. More, more, more, more, more! God was literally raining food down upon them every single day. Are they happy? No. They are faithless. They disobey in an effort to control. They want more than God is giving. In their pride, they usurp God in their efforts to store up and provide for themselves. It is outrageous.
Do you want to know what is even more outrageous? What is even more outrageous is who God blames for it.
And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?…” ~Exodus 16:28
The Lord indicts Moses. MOSES!!!
Moses was not disobeying. Moses wasn’t rebelling or failing to believe and trust God. Moses was doing everything he could to minister to these rebels. Moses was speaking the very words of God and praying in faith that they would believe and obey. How in the world does Moses get the blame?!
“Why did he say this to Moses? He was not disobedient. No, but he was the ruler of a disobedient people, and God charges it upon him that he might the more warmly charge it upon them, and might take care that their disobedience should not be through any neglect or default of his.” ~Matthew Henry
Moses was the leader of a disobedient people. The responsibility is great when you are a leader in any capacity. When you are a leader of an expressly disobedient and rebellious clan, the responsibility is greater still. God is not in the business of overlooking sin without first having that thing examined carefully. He brings correction and calls the guilty to account. Judgement begins at the house of the Lord and God’s discipline works from the top, down, always. The reason is because God is just and he will not have the unjust ruling in his stead. If you want to lead God’s people, you best be prepared, not only to examine yourself, but to be thoroughly examined yourself.
It is interesting that we never see Moses arguing with God in this passage. There is no mention of Moses’ innocence. Moses never says, “Wait a minute, Lord, didn’t you see me resting? Didn’t you see me trusting? Didn’t you see me angry at the disobedience taking place in front of me? Aren’t we homies? Haven’t I obeyed? What’s the deal?”
Perhaps the reason Moses never states his case is because he understands that a lack of clear and fitting correction when those closest to as well as underneath his jurisdiction were blatantly disobedient to God, that it was just as much his fault and responsibility to act; to speak; to correct; to admonish and he had not done so.
I don’t know. What I do know is that if I were Moses and I felt completely and altogether innocent, I would have at least said so. Moses never does. Maybe that’s why he is often remembered as such an angry man. Just sayin’.
Moses was, by all appearances, innocent in this instance, but God indicted him. The seriousness of sin in those directly related to and in close communion with a leader of God’s people is very great. For this reason, judgement falls first on the leader – despite his innocence – for a matter of principle established by God. God did as much to his own son. If a man would seek to bring salvation to a disobedient and rebellious people on behalf of God, he must both understand and accept the principle of owning blame that belongs not to himself. This is the example we see here in Exodus 16:28. This is the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Would you take the place of the guilty? Your Savior did. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.