God gave Israel the sabbath day to rest.
When GOD began providing Israel with manna, as we previously established, He used the manna as an opportunity to test the Israelites’ faith, whether they would trust and obey.
On the sixth day of each week, GOD told Israel through Moses to gather enough manna to feed their family for that day and the seventh day.
This was a test on multiple levels:
- Leaving manna in the home overnight on days one through five produced worms and an awful smell. This happened because GOD said not to leave any of it until morning.
- Would gathering manna for two days and keeping half overnight after the sixth day produce these awful worms and stench? Logic would say yes because apparently the manna goes bad quickly. But no, because manna was GOD’s miracle and He determined the shelf life of each day’s batch.
- Failing to gather enough on the sixth day to have some to eat on the seventh day would result in hunger and going without because no manna was on the ground on the seventh morning.
Predictably, at first, some Israelites left some until morning.
13 So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. 14 But when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the desert, was a small round substance, white like coriander seed, like frost on the ground. 15 So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is this?” For they did not know what it was. Thus Moses said to them, “This is the bread the Lord gives you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has ordered, ‘Let every man gather it for his family, one omer according to the head count and number of souls among you. Each one should gather it with those who share your tents.’”
17 Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. 18 So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Each one gathered according to the need of those sharing the tent with him. 19 Moses then said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.” 20 Notwithstanding, they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. So Moses was angry with them. 21 Thus they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need, and when the sun became hot, it melted.Exodus 16:13-21 OSB
Predictably, at first, some Israelites went hunting for manna on the seventh morning:
27 Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.Exodus 16:27 OSB
Upon seeing this GOD explained to Moses that He had given Israel a sabbath, a day or rest, and He expected them to use it:
28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? 29 Behold, for the Lord has given you this day as the Sabbath; therefore, on the sixth day He gives you bread for two days. Let every man remain in his house; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 Thus the people rested on the seventh day.Exodus 16:28-30 OSB
It is worth emphasizing that the sabbath rest day was given to Israel before the Law of Moses and before the Ten Commandments.
Ultimately, the weekly sabbath was a reminder to Israel of whom their GOD was (and is) and what He had done for them, that they would rest in Him and trust His providence for them.