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Exodus 16:11-18 1
11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” 13 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: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer 2for 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, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.

clip_image032Background 3

Exodus is the second book of the Torah, the Tanakh, and the Old Testament. In Hebrew, it is called Shemot (שְׁמוֹת), based on its first words Ve-eleh shemot (Hebrew: ואלה שמות) (i.e., “And these are the names”). The Septuagint designates the second book of the Pentateuch as “Exodus” (Greek: Ἔξοδος), meaning “departure” or “out-going”. The Latin translation adopted the name, which passed into other languages.

The book opens with the Israelites in Egypt, having been welcomed there at the end of Genesis. The Israelites settle in Egypt and grow in numbers. A new Pharaoh oppresses them to the point of ordering that the male Israelite babies be massacred. A Levite couple hides their infant son to protect him, and a daughter of the Pharaoh finds him, names him Moses, and raises him as her son. After killing an Egyptian guard who had been whipping Israelites, Moses flees Egypt. He meets God, who tells him to return to Egypt to liberate the Israelites. Moses returns, and God sends plagues to demonstrate his power. Finally, the Pharaoh relents and lets Moses lead the Israelites away. They travel for years through the wilderness, receive a covenant and its laws, and then displease God by creating a golden calf to worship. Moses wins God’s forgiveness for his people, and they build the tabernacle.

Biblical Truths

The biblical truths in these verses are not complex. The Israelites journey into the desert, and once in the Wilderness of Sin, they complain about the lack of food. Listening to their complaint, God sends them a shower of quail, and subsequently provides a daily shower of manna from heaven. In other words, God provides all we need.

Items for Discussion

  • God hears the grumblings of the Israelites. Does He hear ours today? What is the significance of your answer?
  • What was the Israelites first response to the manna? Do you think we have problems today with recognizing the “manna from God?”
  • Why do you think that God made them gather the manna and not just pile loaves of bread up in their tents?
  • What do you see as the rational for what happened in verses 16 to 18?
  • What is the “bread” (resources) we have been given in our lives so that we might survive as individuals?
  • What is the “bread” that we have been given so that we might survive as a congregational community?
  • What is required of us as a congregation to “gather” that “bread”?

 

2 Corinthians 8:1-15
1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. 6 So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. 13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

Background

Paul’s contacts with the Corinthian church can be reconstructed as follows:

  1. Paul visits Corinth for the first time, spending about 18 months there (Acts 18:11). He then leaves Corinth and spends about 3 years in Ephesus (Acts 19:8, 19:10, 20:31). (Roughly from 53 to 57 AD).
  2. Paul writes the “warning letter”, probably from Ephesus.
  3. Paul writes 1 Corinthians from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8).
  4. Paul visits the Corinthian church a second time, as he indicated he would in 1 Corinthians 16:6. This is probably still during his 3 years based in Ephesus. 2 Corinthians 2:1 calls this a “painful visit”.
  5. Paul writes the “letter of tears”.
  6. Paul writes 2 Corinthians, indicating his desire to visit the Corinthian church a third time (2 Cor 12:14, 2 Cor 13:1). The letter doesn’t indicate where he is writing from, but it is usually dated after Paul left Ephesus for Macedonia (Acts 20), from either Philippi Thessalonica in Macedonia.
  7. Paul presumably made the third visit after writing 2 Corinthians, because Acts 20:2-3 indicates he spent 3 months in Greece. In his letter to Rome, written at this time, he sent salutations from some of the principal members of the church to the Romans.

Biblical Truths

In verses 8:1 – 9:15 we find Paul’s instructions for the collection for the poor in the Jerusalem church. The mother church, Jerusalem, is again in financial need. Christians at Corinth began collecting funds for them “last year” (v. 10), but appear to have stopped – perhaps due to the disagreements mentioned earlier in the epistle. “Now finish doing it” (v. 11), Paul urges, but does not demand: “I do not say this as a command” (v. 8). Meanwhile, the churches of Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea), far from affluent, have contributed beyond measure to the Jerusalem Fund.

The Christians at Corinth were quarrelsome and divided at times, even regarding baptism (1 Corinthians 1:10-17); so v. 7 is probably a pep talk, intended to damn his readers faintly (without them realizing it): spiritual gifts seem to have been rare at Corinth. Note the realism: “our love for you” not your love for us. The Macedonians have been earnest in their giving; may the Corinthians be as genuine, by putting their words into action. Our great example of self-giving is “Jesus” (v. 9): as Son, he was “rich”, being equal to the Father, but he became human (“poor”) so that we may enjoy salvation. One’s gift should be commensurate with one’s means (v. 12); commitment to the cause (“eagerness”) matters. Givers should attain a “fair balance” (v. 13): relieving the poverty of others but not impoverishing themselves. As a guideline, Paul quotes Exodus 16:18 (v. 15): when God supplied manna in the desert, all had just sufficient, so the Corinthians should avoid gross inequalities in wealth.

Items for Discussion

  • In verse 2 Paul tells us that three factors came together to cause the Macedonians to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem. What are those three factors?
  • Why do these factors generate or motivate people toward generosity?
  • If someone has not experienced any of the above factors, can they understand or be motivated toward generosity?
  • If a church or a family struggle with the concept of giving generously, not under compulsion as Paul states, could it be that they have not shared the three factors/experiences discussed by Paul?
  • How would one who is neither joyful, nor poor or had never been under a personal trial learn about generosity?
  • How do we pass these lessons onto children?

Discussion Challenge

  • How do we pass these lessons onto a congregation?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. An omer is a unit of dry measure equal to one tenth of an ephah and roughly equivalent to 3.5 liters/3.7 Quarts
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus
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