The rest of Exodus 16 deals with the institution of a pre-Sinai Sabbath and the people’s response to this. I believe that the same theme of first half of the chapter can be easily brought over and extended into the focus on the manna and Sabbath. That is, we still learn here that true saints believe that God alone can satisfy their greatest desires.
The provision of food is the demonstration of the LORD’s covenantal presence and glory. It is to be a manifestation of God’s care for his people. It is the LORD who gives this food to his people, and the gift of food from God is intended to reiterate his love for them. The bread comes from God. It comes from heaven. The message of this story, the Lord’s message in the miracle of the manna is, “I am with you. You can trust me. Rely on me. Lean into me. I will sustain you. You can know that I will never let you down. I will keep my promises to you. You can be assured that I am your God and you are my people.” That is, true saints believe that God alone can satisfy their greatest desires.
The real force of the story is unveiled in the second part of v 25: There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them. The LORD was leading his people. He was the one who led them to Marah. The LORD was the one who, in their desperate need for water, brought them first to the bitter waters. But v 25 is the divine perspective on these earthly affairs. Marah was a test. The Lord was trying his people to see if they would trust him. Thus the lesson from God’s Word is, in times of great difficulty, we must trust the Lord.
What do you do when you realize that God has saved you? You sing. Brothers, God’s people sing. In Gen 4, we learn that Jubal made musical instruments. Job mentions singing a handful of times. But this is the first time that singing appears canonically in the Scriptures. How appropriate that, after such a monumental event displaying God’s covenant love, that it is here that we see his people joining in song. The central point from this text for us is simply this: Sing to the LORD. But when I say that this passage urges us to sing to the LORD, I am getting after something more fundamental than mere singing. Indeed, I want us to have the heart to sing to God. My concern is that there is in each of our hearts joyful affections in Christ our Savior.
While the medieval church was never so ignorant to say out loud that they did not want to give glory to God alone, the facts betrayed a different reality. I do not mention the widespread immorality and sin that spread throughout the church. By holding that Christ cooperated us to make us righteous to pacify God’s wrath, that we might rest in some way on our merits before God, that we must submit to human authority on matters of faith and practice, by the practice of indulgences, the medieval church undermined the glory of God. I want us to consider soli Deo gloria, that we would be a people who give glory to God in our salvation and in our lives.