Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bread Gone Bad

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 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. Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." 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. Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.  Exodus 16: 17-21

With the emergence of warehouse merchants such as Costco and Sam’s Club, we have learned to buy in bulk.  Generally, if we have the resources and space for storage, buying items in bulk means that the price per item or price per pound etc. is going to be lower, and a smarter investment for families, and individuals as well…particularly in difficult financial times.  Juxtaposing that philosophy against the counsel of Moses concerning the manna of God might be confusing then.  Moses told the Israelites only to gather as much manna as they needed for that day.  “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”  Reading further into verse 20 of chapter 16, we learn why:  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.”  Were they to have stockpiled the manna and eaten it days after it had been received, it would have brought great sickness and suffering to the people of Israel.  Perhaps even death.  Therefore, obedience to the command of Moses was paramount.

In John 6:35 Jesus made a statement which connected his ministry to that of Moses, and the manna which had fallen from heaven: “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”  He clarifies this statement again later in John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven…”  As the manna was the provision of God against starvation for the Israelites in the desert, also on a much larger scale Jesus is the provision of God against sin for all of humanity.  However, not only did he provide eternal life for them that believe on his name, but life abundant for them that abide in him during this life!  So, how do we experience this abundant life?  We abide.  We stay connected.  

In John chapter 15:4, Jesus instructs his followers to “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.”  In this passage, the Greek word for abide is ‘meno’ – meaning to stay, continue, endure, live, remain.  If we detach from the vine, we will not prosper.  We will not bear fruit.  Actually, apart from the vine we begin to die.  

Let’s go back to that scene in the desert regions of Sinai.  In order to survive, the Israelites had to gather the provision of God…the manna…every day.  There was to be no storing up great quantities of manna and coasting through weeks and months of living.  Daily they gathered the bread from heaven; otherwise their environment and the impurities of it would consume them.   As in the days of Moses…so also today.  

For busy Christians, it may seem practical (not to mention convenient) to ‘stock up on bread’…To live today, tomorrow, and through the week simply on the bread we gathered Sunday morning in Bible Study and Worship.  But that isn’t abiding.  Nor is it relationship.  We must gather bread from heaven every day.  It is in our daily reading of scripture, our active prayer life, and our abiding in the leadership and fellowship of the Holy Spirit that we abide find abundance in this life and prosper in the presence of God.  

Scripture to Claim:
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63

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