A Faithful God
The Israelites had been enslaved for so long that no one still living remembered how it had been when Joseph brought his family to Egypt to survive a famine; when Joseph was revered; when God still spoke. For 400 years, they had not heard from God and had become accustomed (although certainly not content) to their lot as slaves in Egypt. Due to the harsh conditions, their cries rattled the heavens and God finally responded. God freed them from their cruel conditions, only to be reprimanded for, well . . . freeing them from their cruel conditions. Apparently, life in the wilderness with no food, no governing, and no familiarity became worse than slavery.
But God knew better. God provided exactly what they needed. God sent food. God gave them structure (10 Commandments and laws). God sent familiarity (40 years in the wilderness, anyone?). All of which were crucial to the survival of the nation. They would need the 40 years to learn their news ways and laws, and to learn to trust God. Fortunately, God was extraordinarily patient (400 years of watching the Israelites suffer would make 40 in the wilderness seem like the blink of an eye to a patient God.)
It never ceases to amaze me how faithful God can be, even when I am not. Years ago, I was very close to getting a job that seemed like a wonderful opportunity. At the last minute, the opportunity fell through and I was quite upset at God for it. A few years later I learned that the organization went through a terrible, heart-wrenching split. I realized that if I had taken the opportunity, I would have been dead center of the storm. Given my struggles with depression, I wonder how I would have fared. It took several years for me to see that God had my back. Despite my complaints, God provided for me just what I needed.
God is faithful, even when we do not have the full perspective of what we need.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 16:1-18
The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lordsaid to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lordgives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but” against the Lord.Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’“And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“
In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’“ The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.