The Greatness of God’s Love
Every person can know the extent of God’s love by noticing the actions he took for his people.
Sometimes people will ask me if I golf, and I will usually answer them with something like, “I own a set of golf clubs and I have been on a golf course with them.” I typically get out on the golf course a few times a year. When I do golf I usually find people who are much better than me. I would guess that most of those people can find golfers who are better than them. Several years ago I went to Flint to watch some of the Buick Open. The guys that were playing there made the game look so easy. They were able to make that ball do pretty much whatever they wanted. So when someone asks me if I golf, I can tell them I am not a pro, but I know the game and I am able to play.
Just like asking the question, “do you play golf?” can mean a lot of different things, so can the statement God loves me mean a lot of different things. We will be looking at some actions that God took in this passage of Scripture that indicate the kind of love God has for his people.
There is quite a contrast in this passage. God loves and cares and the Hebrew people are a bunch of whiners. They were in slavery in Egypt. I can understand being upset about that. God sent Moses and a series of plagues that brought about their freedom. When they get stuck between the Egyptian Army and the Red Sea they complain that maybe they should have stayed in Egypt. They even stick in a little sarcasm. Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt for us to die there? God opened up the sea, allowed them to cross and drowned the Egyptian army. Now they are starting to get hungry and they are reminding Moses of the nice pots of meat they had in Egypt. Wouldn’t it be nice to be back there again?
God gave them exactly what they wanted. Ever since they got it they have done nothing but complained about what they got. They even try to shift the blame to Moses. It is his fault that all of these bad things have happened. Yet we see again how God demonstrates his love for these people through the actions that he takes.
Action I. Provide food
A. The people had been away from Egypt for about a month, and they were likely getting hungry. I can see saying that you are getting hungry. In v. 3 they even tell Moses in Egypt we were sitting around pots of meat. They were just sort of reminiscing about the good old days back in Egypt when they were in slavery. You almost get the feeling that they are saying, “If we would have died in Egypt at least we would have been well fed. Out here is the desert we are buzzard food.” Rather than being thankful for what God had done for them, they seem to want to complain about what they are lacking. I don’t doubt that their life was hard, but I am reminded that God gave them what they were asking for. He did not push them out of Egypt they got what they wanted. The sought freedom from slavery and God gave it to them.
B. God provides food for them in two ways. First he says in v. 12, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.” That night the entire camp is covered with quail. This is the meat that God was going to give to them. The next morning they get up and find these flakes on the ground. It is what we have come to call manna. They did not know what it was, but it became the food that sustained them while they were in the wilderness. God gave them everything that they needed. I would guess that after eating the same thing for 40 years it would get pretty boring. It gave them to nutrients they needed in order to survive.
C. I know there are a lot of people in the world who would just as soon get rid of the Hebrews. We might say they are just a bunch of whiners, why not get rid of them and start over. That is not what God did. It is not what was called for. God demonstrated his love for them by taking care of them and giving them what they needed. Even though some of the people we deal with might be annoying, they are people that God loves. They are even people we might prefer not to deal with, God does deal with them. This demonstrates the great amount of love that God has. Even though a person might be a whiner or a complainer, that person is still someone that God loves and he is willing to go to great lengths to show that love.
Action II. Show his glory
A. I used to do a few little magic tricks. When I had a young audience they typically asked me to do a trick again. One of the rules of a magician is that you don’t repeat a trick. Sometimes they were trying to figure out how the trick was done. Some of the time they just could not believe their eyes. They want it repeated so that they could confirm what they saw. I think of the Hebrews like my audience. They want it done again so they can confirm that God is really doing what it looks like he is doing.
B. As God is dealing with Moses in this passage he repeatedly tells Moses and the people, “You will know that it was the Lord.” Three times he uses that phrase in this short passage. When I look at that, I think about the things I have just read. God brought a number of plagues on Egypt that were clearly from God. He delivered them from a life of slavery, sending them out of the country and even pillaging the Egyptian people. Then when they were trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army the sea miraculously opened up and they were able to cross the sea on dry ground. After all of that they still need to be convinced that God is the one who did all of these things. They also need to be reminded that God really does love them and is listening to them.
C. In v. 10 while Aaron was speaking to the community it said that the Glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. I am not sure what that means, but I believe that it was something spectacular. It was certainly something good enough that it caught the attention of the people. It was probably not something that would quickly be described as a natural phenomenon. It was something that God did.
D. Have you ever felt like you messed up so bad that not even God was going to be able to forgive you? Maybe you thought he would not want to have anything to do with you. I would remind you of this passage. These people had received from God over and over again. Now they were asking God to give them something more. They were seeking confirmation that God was really the one who was behind everything that had happened. God loved these people so much; he does not run out of patient with them. He continues to give them what they need. He even seems to go beyond what they need.
Action III. Warn of consequences
A. I really enjoy the old drama movies where someone comes into town to warn of some impending danger, but the people of the town refuse to listen to the warning. Typically the person has knowledge, but they also have a compassion for the people. They want those people to be safe. Even though the people might not want to hear what is being said, the hero persists in giving their information. Not because they want to be right, but because they want to save lives.
B. God does more than provide for these people, he also warns them of the consequences of certain actions. When the manna came the people did not know what it was, but Moses explained that it was the bread that God was providing. They were to gather it in the morning, and they were not to keep any of it until the morning. Except for the Sabbath. The day prior to the Sabbath they were to gather enough for two days. If they tried to keep Manna overnight on a night they were not allowed it would rot and be filled with maggots in the morning. If they looked for Manna too late in the day or on the Sabbath they would find that it was not there. Even though God had warned them of these things they still refused to listen.
C. I believe this is yet another evidence of God’s love for his people. He made sure they were provided for, but he also made sure they knew there would be consequences connected with disobedience. God loves his people and he wanted to protect them. He warns us of many things in the Bible. We can choose to obey them and avoid possible consequences, or we can disregard them and face trouble. God loves us enough that he has given us the Bible to teach us and to guide us.
Action IV. Send Jesus
A. I look at Jesus Christ as the greatest act of love in all of history. We are taught in John 3:16 that, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Joh 3:16 NIVUS) God has loved people so much that he went his son into the world. Without Jesus Christ we are trapped in sin. It is only through Jesus Christ, his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven that we can have the forgiveness of that sin. God loved us to much that he did that for us. This is only possible through Jesus Christ.
B. As Christians we need to recognize that God sending his son to die for us is the greatest gift he could ever give. If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your savior you could be missing out on this gift. It is not because he is not offering it to you. This gift is available to everyone. All you need to do is to accept it. You can tell God you want to accept his gift of salvation.
I had a professor in college who rejected the statement, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” He instead liked the statement, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” This came as a result of psychological profiles.