Exodus is one of the largest books in the Bible.
The story of the Exodus
It tells the story of Moses and how God calls him to face the mighty ruler of Egypt who persecutes and murders the Israelite people.
It takes ten epidemics – rivers that turn into blood, swarms of frogs, mosquitoes, flies and grasshoppers, a plague that kills the Egyptian cattle, suffering from boils, hailstorms, three days of complete darkness, and a disease that affects them firstborn son kills from every Egyptian family – before Pharaoh finally says yes to Moses’ call to let my people go! And even then he chases after the Israelites and is only defeated when his army drowns, when they pursue them across the Red Sea and the water, which had recently split up suddenly again.
It is a story of liberation from evil. And it is a story that forms the foundation of the Jewish faith.
But the story doesn’t stop there.
Grumble in the wild
Moses and the Israelites continue to travel through the desert in search of the land that God has promised to lead – “a good and spacious country, a land where milk and honey flow”.
After a few months, however, the Israelites become impatient to find this country. You are starving and complaining. They are beginning to think they would have been better off staying in Egypt. It was terrible to be in slavery, but is it worse to be free and still die of hunger in the wild?
Bread from heaven
So God rains manna – bread from heaven – every morning for her.
But just enough manna to feed every Israelite every day. God says it is a test – to see if the Israelites trust him to deliver exactly what they need every day. He says they shouldn’t take more than exactly what they need for that day – one “Omer” per person.
So the Israelites go out to collect the manna. And some take too much. And some have too little left. But when they bring it back to the camp and measure it, they find that each person has exactly one Omer.
The curse of taking too much
Then Moses tells them to eat their whole rations and not hold anything back for the next day, trusting that the Lord will take care of them again.
But some of them are fearful and untrustworthy and keep a supply of their rations. And the next morning, they find that the manna “grew worms and was bad.”
This little story is the first of many in the Bible that warns us not to hoard and not trust that God will provide it.
Why this story is important to us today
Under our current circumstances, people are understandably anxious.
But firstly we are told that there is plenty to eat and secondly that there is enough for absolutely everyone if we only take what we need.
It was disturbing to see Dawn Bilbrough, an intensive care nurse, in tears on TV the other day because she couldn’t get to a grocery store until after her shift and then found that the shelves were almost completely empty.
So may we remember the Israelites in the desert with their manna.
May we trust that God will provide us, and one of the ways in which he will do this is to give us soft hearts – that will cause us to keep as much food on the shelves as possible. For others.
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