Fishes And Loaves Part 1


When the Hebrew nation found themselves wandering the desert in Exodus 16, they were only about one month removed from their escape from Egypt, an adventure replete with a miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and pillars of cloud and fire acting as their personal vanguards. They went without water as they crossed through the desert Shur. They quickly found themselves running out of food, and so they grumbled.

I find it interesting that the Hebrew word used here for “grumble” can also mean “to murmur” or “to dwell.” Perhaps that’s a clever turn of phrase, painting the image of thousands of people – a nation that should be living in a state of wonder and gratitude – pitching their tents with poles made of whining and tent clothes of snivel.

To be fair, with three thousand years of history between them and the unequaled comfort and excess of American wealth, it’s easy for me to say that they should have had the faith and foresight that God would provide. I have never faced starvation or really anything more than mild hunger. It’s worth noting that, for all their bellyaching, the Israelites weren’t questioning God, but Moses and Aaron. “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.”

Either way, God heard their grumbling and intervened, sending a flock of quail into their camp that night (quail are notoriously easy to catch, even without nets, after they have exhausted themselves from flight) and arranging for white, honey-flavored flecks of bread to hitch a ride on the morning dew. The fact that the manna was only good for one day was a nice, but subtle, reminder that they must collect God’s provision daily: they could store it for later use. “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

Likewise, I believe we must daily find our worth in Christ. Next week, I’ll explore how that works.

–Steven Macks

A version of this post was originally published on TheDyingAway

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