Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our reading for this week from Exodus should rightly astonish us. The people of Israel had been enslaved in Egypt. They were complaining to God. God delivered them from Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. They then proceeded to complain against Moses and Aaron, saying that they missed the good conditions they had in Egypt. They wanted meat. They wanted bread. It seems they really didn’t want God to rescue them at all.
One of the amazing things God does in Scripture is this. He gives his people what they are asking for. Sometimes, as is the case with the bread, it is something very good for them. The manna which they were able to pick up every morning for some forty years sounds delicious! Granted, it doesn’t seem a varied menu, but that’s par for the course in antiquity. Even today in developing nations people typically have only a few menu items. Think of the Old West. Beans and cornbread for breakfast. Beans and cornbread for lunch. Beans and cornbread for supper. Do you get tired of the menu? Maybe so. Go find your interest somewhere else. And say what you might, it does make the occasional handful of raspberries a really nice treat!
In this passage God also gives the people something that would seem good for them but, in fact, was not. They had been complaining for meat. Birds count as meat. He gave them meat, so much meat that they couldn’t eat it all, so much that it would go bad on them, so much that they would be surrounded by the stench of dead birds until they moved on.
This situation gives us a commendation and a warning. First, the commendation. If we need something God knows our need and knows how to supply it. He takes care of even those who are rebellious, those who complain, those who think they know better than the Lord. But the warning? Sometimes he allows us to have our heart’s desire. What if our heart’s desire is to enter into sin and disobedience? What if our desire is to live as if the Lord isn’t in this world? Eventually he will give us that as well. Our hard-hearted complaining and rebellion can lead to God’s leaving us to deal with the consequences of sin. In the end, He says, “I did all that was needed to rescue you from sin and death, but you seem intent on taking matters into your own hands. Go ahead. Rescue yourself.” This is a terrible possibility, but one which the Scripture depicts as genuine. We ask for bondage, we ask for something that perishes and rots, and the Lord may eventually give it to us.
My prayer is that we all will heed the warning and look to the God of promise as the one who will provide all we need by his hand of grace.
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