10th Pentecost Sunday

August 13, 2017

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church,

Sioux Falls, SD

Rev. Norman F. Seeger

 

Exodus 16:15-31

…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.  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.’ ”

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.  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.

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

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.

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.  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.  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.’ ”

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

Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none.  Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?  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.”  So the people rested on the seventh day.

The people of Israel called the bread manna.  It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.

 

Exodus 16:15-31

“Like the Lord, a Godly Principal Will Feed Us Law & Gospel..”

  1. Guiding Our Life, God Shows Us Our Sin

2) Guiding Our Life, God Shows Us Our Savior”

Dear children of God,

Put yourself in a desert in the middle east.  Two million companions have eaten every scrap of food you carried out of Egypt as God powerfully rescued you from centuries of slavery.  You are allegedly being led to a ‘promised land’ who knows how many miles away – a land God promised ancestor Abraham (as long ago as Columbus discovered America).  Looking back, you remember walking to safety through the Red Sea as God unbelievably blew seawater back into two walls while drying the ground under your feet (little more than a month ago).  Looking ahead, you see certain starvation.  With no food, there will be no life.  So we grumble – grumble against our leader Moses – we grumble against God.  Amazingly; lovingly, after first stuffing our stomachs with quail God miraculously causes to come into camp one afternoon, the next morning, as the dew lifts, we find the desert floor covered with ‘thin flakes like frost.  White like coriander seed; they taste like wafers made from honey.’  We ask, ‘What is it?’ (literally:  Mah ne?)  We ‘call this bread manna.’

As Israelites begin eating manna in the wilderness, the way God’s people will every morning for the next forty years; as Paul’s epistle lesson reminds us God recorded Israel’s life & death adventures to caution & comfort us when we are tempted today the way his people were tempted ‘yesterday,’ what lesson will we learn?  When God graciously allows us to install Mr. Schubkegel as our Principal this morning, what might we rightly expect?  Learning from Moses’ experience with manna, I would suggest:  like the Lord, a godly principal will feed us…feed us law & gospel.

Please understand, we dare not limit our Lord’s lessons to physical food – we do not ask a principal to possibly provide peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in place of manna every morning; we will not ask a principal to only offer us an excellent earthly education.  No, we expect Good Shepherd’s principal to feed our souls; to protect, to nourish; to build up our eternal life in Christ.   I pray we also understand, God is not just talking to Mr. Schubkegel today.  Truth applied to a principal is the same truth God applies to parents who will rightly deal with our sons & daughters every day the way our principal (representing us parents) will deal with our children during a schoolday.  Truths for our principal are also truths our teachers & pastors will wisely apply.  In fact, the Lord’s lessons are for every Christian to personally apply as God, guiding a disciple’s life, shows us our sin – as God, graciously guiding our life, also shows us our Savior… shows us Jesus’ Sabbath Rest for our soul.

Laying down the law, Moses clearly explains God’s plan to preserve his people wandering a wasteland.  Every morning ‘everyone is to gather as much manna as they need…an omer for each person in your tent.’  Filling a need for physical food, our Lord instructs his people, ‘No one is to keep any of it until morning.’  Laying down his law, the Lord  offers different directions the sixth day, ‘Gather twice as much, two omers for each person.  Tomorrow is to be a day of Sabbath rest, holy to the Lord, so bake & boil what you want.  Save whatever is left & keep it until morning.’

Will our principal lay down the law?  Yes!  We want Mr. Schubkegel to be laying down the law, leading us to faithfully follow God.  You see, laying down the law is not some stereotypically angry action; does not describe a disciplinarian severely punishing students stepping an inch over the line.  Laying down the law is a principal or parent explaining godly rules governing our life.  Clarifying the Lord’s expectations, our principal will explain how our students’ & teachers’ actions & attitudes are going to display a full-hearted love for God while also showing love for our neighbor — summarizing ten commandments God will soon hand down to Moses on Mt. Sinai, commandments Good Shepherd students apply as we ‘respect God, respect others & respect our self.’

Laying down the Lord’s law, will our principal make life miserable by rolling out a million rules?  Do our parents’ godly rules, do our teachers’ God-guided directions restrict us from having fun, enjoying life at home or at school?  Exactly the opposite.  God’s guidelines bless his people.  Israelites who gather one omer of manna every day, but gather two on the sixth day are being blessed.  God’s commands for our life today — do not lie, do not steal; do  not commit adultery – the Lord’s will for our life — do not murder; do not misuse God’s name; honor you father & mother – actually make my life better, not bitter.

Sad to say – a confession neither you nor I can conceal — anyone rightly laying down the Lord’s law ultimately shows me my sin, for ‘we all sin; we all fall short of the glory of God.’[ROM 3]  Am I not too often a greedy Israelite who gathers more than one omer of manna the first day, who ‘pays no attention to Moses’ instruction;’ a soul who ‘wisely’ saves some manna for tomorrow, trying to insure food for my future, only to find it ‘full of maggots & beginning to smell’ – only to find it inedible the next day?  When I disobey, how will a principal or parent properly respond?  ‘Moses is angry with them,’ we are told.  God is angry when souls refuse to follow his instructions.  As a consequence of their disobedience, these defiant people endure hunger for a day; hunger sinful souls will experience again the seventh day because, logically telling themselves it is useless to gather two omers & save some manna for the Sabbath; certain they will find it full of maggots, some souls again ignore God’s directions.  Stepping outside ‘to gather manna the seventh day, they find none.’

While disobedient souls suffer day-long hunger as a consequence of their sin, we hear the Lord asking Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commands & my instruction?  Bear in mind the Lord has given you the Sabbath…a day of Sabbath rest…a holy day to the Lord.’  What will we learn as the Lord calls us to account for our sins?  Addressing us as he speaks to our leader Moses, God does not immediately deliver an endless, separated-from-God-forever death in hell we disobedient, defiant, let-me-do-it-my-own-way sinners deserve.  God, in fact, will put enough manna on the gound the next morning to also feed sinful, prayerfully repenting souls who stored too much manna the first day or did not store enough on the sixth day.

Will God, in the wilderness, ignore his people’s sin?  Will God overlook some souls’ disobedience, as if his law offers suggestions, not directions?   No.  God is serious about sin.  God is also, thankfully, serious about our Savior.  Calling people through Moses to see their disobedience; to confess their sin, the Lord points people to his Sabbath rest – a day of rest apparently assumed, being previewed by God creating our world in six days before resting on the seventh day, although Moses has not yet received a written command to ‘remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy’[EX 20] etched in two stone tablets he will soon be given on Mount Sinai – a day of rest Jesus establishes in full force when he powerfully, lovingly wins forgiveness by suffering sin’s death penalty as every soul’s Substitute Good Friday.  Jesus, anticipating Easter Sunday, knowing he who is about to be ‘given over into death for our sins will be raised to life for our justification’ so that, ‘beingdeclared forgiven, being  justified through faith, we will have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,’ [ROM 5] Jesus invites souls burdened by sin’s guilt, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary & burdened; I will give you rest…rest for your souls.’[MT 11]

When we see our sins deserving death; when we see our Savior Jesus win eternal life for us by freely offering himself as ‘the atoning sacrifice, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world;’[1 JN 2] when we witness our manna-making Lord God at work in Israel’s wilderness, what will we Christians learn?  What will people of God learn to apply in our life as disciples of Christ?  What will we be led to expect from a principal called to feed us law & gospel?

Laying down the law, we expect our principal to give us guidelines for glorifying God in our life as a student, teacher, parent – give us rules to make our life more productive & pleasant.  If or when some students disobey rules the Lord’s representatives lay down for our school – if I refuse to quietly line up as we come in from the playground or I will not silently listen when teacher  talks, if I misuse our chromebooks as we access the internet, if I physically or verbally ‘bully’ another student – we expect our principal, possibly experiencing Moses’ anger & disappointment over disobedient Israel; we also expect teachers backed by our parents to lovingly, patiently; to persistently call upon us to confess our sin, to admit our disobedience, to repent & rejoice in Jesus’ forgiveness.

Disobedience will undoubtedly bring some less desirable consequences to a student as our principal rightly enforces our school rules & applies the Lord’s law to our life, but we do not expect Principal Schubkegel to immediately take away our privilege of attending a Lutheran school.  Nor will a godly principal quickly condemn us to eternal death.  Because Jesus won forgiveness for every evil attitude or action, principal Schubkegel will use our Lord’s law & gospel to lead us to repent of our sin; lead us, powered by the Holy Spirit, to correct our wicked words/works so Christ’s love will shine in our life…in our eternal life.

Amen.