Monday, July 4, 2011

“I will rain bread from Heaven”

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 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." 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.  Exodus 16:1-4

While few of us would confess openly that we ever…much less often…grumble about God’s leadership of our lives, we might confess that we periodically grumble to one another about our circumstances.  We may also experience frustration concerning the rate at which the deliverance arrives, or even the means of provision of God uses to remedy whatever suffering or disposition life might be handing to us at the time.  

In the above passage, the people of Israel have been out of Egypt’s captivity for some forty-five days, and now find themselves wandering in a dry, and no doubt harsh, hot desert.  We also learn that they are hungry.  In the midst of their frustration and suffering there, they make an astounding statement: “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!”  God however, has not abandoned his children.  He knows they are hungry…but he knows that there is something else they need much worse than food.  They need to learn obedience.  “…I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”  The eyes of the Children of Israel were on their problem…their hunger for food, but the eyes of God were on their hearts!  If they did not obey him, they might not survive the journey to the Promised Land.  But much worse – without obedience, their covenant with God would not survive.

“What is it?”  That was the question on everyone’s mind that first day that God brought his provision for their hunger.  He rained a dew from heaven which when dried became a thin, flaky, bread like substance.  They had never seen this substance before!  But God gave specific instructions for the Israelites to gather this up daily for food.  Holding it in their hands, they were puzzled and must have looked at one another for answers.  Today, and in the scriptures, this bread from heaven is called ‘manna’.  This word manna is a derivative of the Hebrew phrase ‘Man-hu’ which means: “What is it?”  It is that…whatever it is.  It is manna.  It is God’s provision for that which hungers within us.

Reflecting back over the course of life, we may find that some of the greatest disasters of our lives have come as a result of us demanding that God fix things “our way” or in our timing.  Conversely, we may realize that what we thought at the time was a major mess-up or absence of God’s provision in a situation was exactly what we needed at the time…or was used by Him to fashion us for a greater glory and usefulness down the road.  We may stand in our current situation looking at the ‘bread from heaven’ and call it manna.  “What is it?”  “What is God doing?  This can’t be right!”  “This isn’t what I wanted for my life right now.”  Still, it is manna.  It is what we may need at that very moment…and our God will sustain us through what we are going though.

Scripture to Claim:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:2-5

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