Sunday’s Scripture – October 4, 2020
In Exodus 16, the newly-freed Israelites dramatically complain of hunger. “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.” (16:3)
It had been mere days since God miraculously delivered the Israelites from 430 years of bondage. They had just witnessed the first Passover, seen the Red Sea parted, and watched God destroy their enemies.
Apparently, being hangry is a real thing (when hunger makes you angry). It’s right here in the Bible.
If we had lived through the Exodus, we’d never be so ungrateful, right? (Remember: we have the entire Biblical narrative from which to draw faith; they were flying blind!) But before we come down too hard on those Israelites, let’s remember that although they were no longer slaves, the Israelites were also not yet to the Promised Land. And in between the two, exists a murky, unsettling abyss called wilderness.
What is it about human nature that we would often rather return to slavery, where at least we know what to expect, than to trust God through the wilderness and walk into freedom?
It’s easier to get the Israelites out of Egypt than it is to get Egypt out of the Israelites.
Perhaps most surprising about this passage in Exodus 16:1-8 is not the Israelites complaining, but God’s gracious response. We know how much God hates grumbling. After all, a whole generation would later do laps around the same old mountain only to die in the wilderness because of it.
“When the Lord gives 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.” (16:8)
But God ignores their attitudes and generously provides. Instead of disciplining them, God begins to daily rain down manna and quail from heaven.
May we never forget this important order of how God works: first, God delivers and then God requires. In God’s steadfast love, God never expects anything from the Israelites– not even gratitude– until God establishes the covenant with them at Mt. Sinai.
We love because he first loved us.
- What is it that you are tempted to grumble about these days? Take some time to repent of your attitude and ask God for eyes to see the opportunity in it.
- In what ways has God loved you first? Have you forgotten that our love and service to God is always in response to God’s initial steadfast love?
- What is God asking you to trust in and through? Are you circling Mt Sinai again and again or are you ready to walk forward into the Promised Land? Ask God to help you take a baby step (or even a giant leap of faith!) in that direction.