Israel Lessons

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A study of the nation of Israel provides plenty of material that parallels my own life. One of these is from Exodus 16 where God begins to send manna as they wander through the desert after their departure from Egypt.

In Exodus 16:2-3, the whole congregation grumbles against Moses and Aaron, going so far as to say, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

This is at least the third occurrence since the Exodus in which the Israelites voiced their displeasure and complained to Moses, which was effectively complaining against God.

In Exodus 14:11, as they stood at the edge of the Red Sea after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, they ask Moses “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”

In Exodus 15:24, they complain to Moses that they cannot drink the water of Marah because of its bitterness. Israel proved time and time again that they were good at complaining and bad at remembering how God had provided for them.

In spite of their complaining, God continued to provide for them. In Exodus 16:4, God says to Moses, “I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.”

God gives clear instructions to gather a day’s portion, and Moses further clarifies this in v.16 when he tells them each to gather an omer of manna (about 2 quarts). The instructions were clear, but v.20 tells us that they did not listen to Moses and some gathered more than they could use and left it for morning, at which point it “bred worms and stank.”

Although not stated explicitly, the clear implication is that the Israelites did not trust that God was going to provide the manna daily; therefore, they sought to take matters into their own hands and store up more for themselves just in case God did not come through for them.

As I ponder this in my own life, I realize that I fall into the same thinking as the Israelites. It is too easy for me to look at my pipeline and worry that God will not provide for me. I crave security, and my human nature tells me that it is better for me to gather more than a day’s portion so that I am prepared just in case God doesn’t provide for tomorrow.

I am reminded of the truth that my issue with God isn’t that he will provide, but that he won’t provide the standard of living that I desire for myself. Too often, I fail to look back at all of the ways that God has been faithful and provided in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6 that he is our provider and will meet our needs. Twice he tells us to not be anxious, for He alone will provide exactly what we need. He gives us the examples of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and how God provides for them despite their temporal nature. How much more will God provide for us!

God is simply asking for us to seek Him and trust in His provision, and He will take care of us. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Just as God led the Israelites and provided for their daily needs, so too does He promise to do the same for us. Are you willing to trust him?

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