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What comes first



Read: Exodus 16:24-32

So the people did not gather any food on the seventh day (Exodus 16:30).


When I was a young child, I thought that thunder and lightning were separate phenomena that just happened to occur at the same time. It was only years later that a science teacher explained to me that lightning and thunder are directly connected to one another — that the rapid heating and cooling of the air during a lightning strike causes a massive atmospheric boom which we hear as thunder. In other words, you would never have thunder if lightning didn’t strike first.

Much like lightning and thunder, the ancient Israelites couldn’t have had a Sabbath rest if manna hadn’t been provided the day before (Exodus 16:29). It’s easy to think that the Sabbath was a stand-alone event, where God simply commanded the people of Israel to refrain from working on a given day. But we often overlook the fact that the first Sabbath observed by the people of Israel occurred a day after manna fell from heaven to feed them — a form of providence so surprising and mysterious that they would call it “What is it?” food (Exodus 16:15).

This was no coincidence. In fact, the whole reason Israel could rest from their work was because God is the One who faithfully provided for their needs: “They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord ’s gift to you” (Exodus 16:29). Their ability to rest comes directly from God’s willingness to provide. As Moses said, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:15).

So often I have a very shallow conception of rest, thinking all it means is to take some time off from work. But the whole reason I can rest in the first place is because of God’s provision. His faithfulness makes my rest possible. So when resting, I shouldn’t just stop working, I should start giving thanks — praising the One who provides for us!


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