Friday, November 13, 2009

Grumble, Grumble

"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." 4 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." Exodus 16:3-4

I never, ever tire of reading Exodus. Every single time I amazed and in awe of Yahweh. Every single time I am also amazed at the Israelites, and how quickly they forgot God's provision for them. Here they are, in the verse above, just after the Red Sea had parted, allowing them to cross on dry ground.

God parted the Red Sea, the Israelites crossed to their freedom on dry ground, between two walls of water. Then, when they were all safely on the other side, the Egyptians came after them, and then the water collapsed, swallowing the entire army. The Israelites were free at last, and here they are grumbling about food. They are wishing they were back in Egypt, because they are worried they are going to die from a lack of food. Really?

I can't help but read this and just want to slap them silly! Did they really think that God would have done all that He did, only to let them perish from starvation? Did they really think that God had brought the ten plagues upon Egypt, and then parted the Red Sea, only to let them perish from lack of food. Oh my! And you know this continues! In response to this grumbling, God provides manna, the bread from heaven, and it doesn't take too long before the Israelites start complaining again about a lack of water, and then later on they complain about the very manna that God has provided for them.

We can learn so much from reading about the Israelite people. One being that when God brings us through a trial, through a struggle, there is purpose for it. God is not going to bring us out of the depths of despair and then just leave us to our own devices. He is with us always and knows what we need before we need it- he will provide it. The Israelites show us how not to behave. I have to think that if I had gone through a trial tantamount to the Red Sea, that I would not so easily forget it. I have to think that I would remember for days and days and years and years, and I would be telling stories to my children's children about how God saved us from our enemies. I think it's important to remember that. I think it's so important to look back every once in a while and just thank God for what He has done for us in the past. When we do that, it gives us hope and encouragement for the future and what is to come.

Because we serve a God of love and hope and He is not going to bring us through trials only to abandon us later. He loves each and every one of us so much, that He will wait until every single one of us have made it to dry ground before releasing the torrent on our enemies. Not a single Israelite or herding animal was left behind to be swallowed up by the Red Sea. Every single scrap of clothing remained dry, and every cart was wheeled onto land before the waters were released. God wants each and every one of us to know His love and His provision.

Speaking of that provision. The Israelites were concerned about food, so God provided food from heaven, called manna. He also gave specific instructions for gathering this manna, as a test to the people. I can't help but read this and think of this and compare the manna of that time to money. Let's think on this trail for a minute. God provides for all our needs, and He also provides instructions for those in His Word. When the Israelites did not follow the instructions for the manna, let's see what happened.

"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.

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

20 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.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 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. 23 He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of 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.' "

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?" Exodus 19:17-28

When the people did not follow the instructions of the manna, they went without. The people who kept some overnight had their manna taken away from them, really. It rotted and was filled with maggots and was inedible. Those people, the people who kept the manna overnight did not believe fully in God's provision. They had to have not believed that God would provide for them, so they kept a little back, just in case God didn't follow through on His promised provision for them. Just in case the God who freed them from Egypt and parted the Red Sea for them did not follow through on His promise to provide food for them.


Are we those people? Are we those Israelites who wanted to believe God, but weren't sure if we should believe God, so we do what we humanly can? Do we keep a little something back for ourselves- just in case God doesn't follow through on His promises? Wait- what promises?

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

God will meet all our needs. ALL! Every single one of our needs will be met. So when we see someone in need, or hear of someone in need, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit in us that's telling us to give. I may have the last $20 in my pocket that I'm going to see in a while, but by golly, I need to trust that God will provide for me each and every day and give that $20 where it is desperately needed! We need to follow God's instructions and take care of the widow, the orphan, and the leper.

And then there are the other Israelites. The ones we will call foolish, because they didn't listen when instructed to gather extra on the sixth day. They didn't work when the Lord told them to work, and as a result, they went hungry on the seventh day. Sometimes, God's provision may not come in a way we want it to. Sometimes we're still sitting by the mailbox waiting for that magic check to show up, but God wants us to work for His provision. He sends us an odd job or a period of employment to provide for our needs instead. We need to listen to those instructions! When God sends a way to earn money in our direction, we need to take it- or we too, will go hungry on that seventh day!

There are so many nuggets that we can glean from the Israelites and their time of wandering. The manna is just one of many examples, no doubt. I think for me, this shows me this morning that we really need to pay attention to what God is saying. He says right here, "how long will you refuse to keep my commands and instructions", and I don't want to be one that He is saying that about. What does God say about money? How does He tell us to use it- it seems to me that we would all be well-served to spend some time in our Word, searching that out.

God will provide for us each and every day- but first we need to listen and follow His instructions for us.

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