I WILL TEST THEM TO SEE IF THEY WILL FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS… On the 15th day of God's second month, May 20, on our 2019 Gregorian calendar, millions of Israelites entered the Desert of Sin. “Sin”, pronounced “Seen”, is a Hebrew transliteration of the word “thorn”. Indeed, God’s provision was viewed many times as a thorn in their religious side. Can we hear God’s eternal Word as it crosses the chasm of time to convict us of our own religious “thorn”?
“The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’” Exodus 16:1-3.
After crying out to God for deliverance, millions began their exodus from Egypt just hours after the Death Angel miraculously “passed over” their firstborn. The Red Sea literally parted so they could escape the pursuing Egyptians, and then thundered back over, drowning their enemy. God then led them to the Desert of Shur, where He not only provided water for them, but sweetened it when they complained that it was too bitter. The Almighty then provided an oasis of rest in Elim, right in the middle of a vast desert, complete with 70 palm trees and 12 springs of water.
They certainly had ample time to reflect on how blessed they were to be following the Almighty and be on the receiving end of all those miracles! Instead, after leaving their oasis and arriving in the Desert of Sin, their grumbling only intensified. In just one month, the Israelites had gone back to their obstinate, self-serving ways.
“…So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‘In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?... You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.’… While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.” Exodus 16:6, 8,10.
How incredible would it be to have a Christian leader say to us, “In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord…” Yet, that is exactly what God’s Word is telling us today, right this very moment. And it is all centered around the physical provision of the Almighty for His chosen people.
3500 years later, we still don’t get it. Nor do we grasp that this entire chapter of Exodus 16 is about the glory of the Lord, and our response. Exodus 16:4 explains why the Lord sent the manna and commanded the Sabbath. “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
Yes, it is in Exodus 16:15-26 that the very first Sabbath day of rest for mankind is commanded and the appointment explained by God Almighty. Note that a week of time was used, and during that week the ONLY day of rest from collecting manna was the 7th day counted forward from the day it was commanded, which was the 15th day of the second month, as noted in Exodus 16:1. That would put the first Sabbath observed by God’s people as the 22nd day of the 2nd month. The Israelites were delivered from Egypt also on the 15th day, but in the first month on God’s calendar as recorded in Exodus 12 and Numbers 33. The 15th day of the first month was also the first day of Unleavened Bread and designated a Sabbath according to Leviticus 23:6-7.
So that means that Sabbath days HAD to be reckoned back then by the lunar cycle of each month, and not by the count of 7 days. Each month is 29-30 days long, which makes it impossible for the Sabbath to fall on the 15th day in both of two consecutive months by counting in 7's.
We would have to start each month the way God does, and count forward, just as he commanded the Israelites, to find His appointed Sabbath day. The 15th day had to be a Sabbath, which meant the 8th, 22nd, and 29th were also designated Sabbaths. And it is just like our Creator to tie all these Sabbath Days to correspond with the phases of the moon He created: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter.
As God’s designated months were called “Chodesh”, which means "new moon", they began mostly in darkness, with the first sliver of light from the new moon. According to God’s Word in 1 Samuel 20:5,18, 24, 2 Chronicles 2:4, 31:3, Ezekiel 46:1-3, the New Moon is not only the beginning of the month, but also considered a consecrated, holy day with worship and sacrifices. Isaiah 66:23 states it will remain a holy day in the New Kingdom of Jesus.
All God’s Festival days appointed in Leviticus also reflect His lunar appointment in the heavens. Indeed, there is no need to for a "reckoning" of days to make Sabbaths coincide with festivals or vice-versa. This is particularly evident many years with Passover week, which would remain on the same schedule, year after year by following the lunar Sabbath appointment.
Indeed, the most beautiful thing in the world, is the understanding that God Almighty has clearly placed this Sabbath appointment in the sky for all to see, just as He gave Jesus, the fulfillment of the Sabbath and the Festival Days, for all humanity to see.
Exodus 20 builds on the appointment of this first Sabbath for God’s chosen people by commanding the people to observe the Sabbath Day as part of the 10 Commandments. It includes this statement in verse 11: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” So this appointment of the Sabbath for His people DID take into account the creation in Genesis, and this is the timing that God gave for the very first Sabbath that he commanded His people to keep.
In the Old Testament, salvation was all about actions and observance of laws. But everything always pointed to Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath. In the New Testament, we have the glorious proclamation of Colossians 2: 16-17: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”