I'm reading in Exodus right now. I have to tell you, the names of the people in ancient times were something else! I love the old testament stories. I love reading about all the ways God cared for His people, about how He made ordinary people into leaders and protectors of His people. I love reading how much God loves us. It is absolutely amazing.
There is something else that is absolutely amazing to me - the way His people missed all the ways they were being loved and cared for. Now, I'd like to tell you I would never, ever in a million years behave, react, or otherwise compromise the blessings the way the Israelites did in the Old Testament. However, I am most certain telling you that would be a farce. You see, I do. I do behave and act the way they did. I do compromise the blessings I have been given the way they did. How? Let's look.
In Chapter 16 the Lord tells Moses he is going to provide some food each day for the Israelites. Wait, let's back up. Here are thousands of men, women, and children, along with all their livestock and household necessities, traveling to this far off place called, "The Promise Land". These people have just spent many years in brutal, harsh slavery in Egypt and now they get to live the good life. God uses Moses and Aaron to take this group to their destination. We are at the beginning of this journey - God had just parted a sea and let them walk across it on dry land and then closed it up behind them to protect them from their slave owners. WOW! He totally had their backs. I guess where I'm going with that is this - if He can make a dry path through a sea, He can totally provide food for His people.
However, I think this story is a lot less about what God can do and more of how we perceive it. Work with me here. These people were on a long walk. They were tired, hot (traveling through a desert can do that to you), and hungry. I don't know about you but when I get hungry I get a wee bit testy. You could use the word, hangry if you'd like. I am most certain these people were just as hangry. Multiply that by thousands and you pretty much have a lynch mob on your hands. What do they do? They complain. Yep. Stellar, thumbs-up move. By the way, I have Littles, I am quite accustomed to this phenomenon of complaining. (HA!)
Moses and Aaron take the full brunt of this complaining too. Despite that, Moses puts them in their place. He calls them out on their antics - "Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord." (16:8b) He knew what was up. Here these folks were being given manna in the morning and quail at night. Given. As in the quail were just wandering freely for the taking and the manna was there, covering the ground each day. I mean, free food - why grumble, right?! God gave these things with 2 stipulations - one, they could only take what they could eat each day except for the 6th day where they could take double portions and two, on the seventh day they were to rest. "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'." (16:4) Sounds easy enough to me. What could possibly go wrong?!
Yet some did. They tried taking more. And in so doing it would get maggots and stink to high heaven (pardon the pun). Yuck to the Nth degree and then some. Why on Earth, if they knew they had enough each day, and there would always be provisions for the next, would they store the stuff up? Here is what I think and how it all made sense to me:
How many times have you crammed for something? Like a test? I am the best at this. I wait, wait, wait, and then cram in as much as I can last minute to help me to my destination (acing the test, presenting my idea, etc). I'd like to think this worked well for me throughout my schooling. It did too, until my last degree, but that is neither here nor there. Like the Israelites, I tend to cram. After all, a single dose of cramming is far easier than a daily dose of doing, right? Wrong! We're going to take this up a notch now. We still have seven days in a week. For those of us who do, we use Sunday as our day of worship and time with God. This day, the last day where we are to rest, we use it to cram in as much of the word of God as we can so that we have provisions for the rest of the week. Here's the thing. It doesn't work that way. Nope, not a lick. In fact, it gets filled with maggots and stink.
Now, it isn't the truths we hear on Sunday that is bad, it is the environment we take it into that pollutes it. (Kind of like the rocky, weed infested soil in the New Testement.) But God gives us a daily provision. He has given us His word and His spirit. Each day we can spend time in the word, filling up on the truths He has for us and each day we can talk freely with and come before Him. You see, we don't need to cram for (or store up) provisions on a single day, we can take what we need each and every day to grow stronger and healthier. Why is this so important?
We will all, at some point in our lives, walk through a desert time. Some of us will have a short trip and some of us will get a 40-year experience. Neither scenario is worse than or better than the other, it just simply is what it is. Regardless of the length of the stay, our God is unchanging. He is unwavering in His love for us and He is undoubtedly steadfast in His provisions for us. While I don't see us out chasing a quail or gathering manna in a ceramic jar, I do see us opening His word and bowing our heads. Daily.
Hope you have a good week and get plenty to eat ;)