I know that some people struggle when it comes to reading the Old Testament (OT), but I think the OT is fantastic – of course there are some difficult parts in it, but it is also so full of incredible stories, which has so much to teach us.
One of the greatest stories in the OT is the story of the Exodus, the story of how God led the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the promised land. Where I think the story of the Exodus is so powerful, is that it reveals a lot about the nature of God, and his love and concern for his people, and also his patience, because time and time again when the Israelite’s turn their back on God, and start grumbling, He remains faithful.
We see this in today’s reading.
After freeing the Israelite’s from the clutches of their Egyptian masters, the Israelite’s start complaining. Within an incredibly short time they forget what it was like to be slaves in Egypt and start saying to 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.” (16:3)
So God hears the complaints of the Israelite’s, just as he heard their cries whilst they were held in slavery in Egypt, and He sent them manna in the morning and quails in the evening, so that they had just enough to eat, not too much and not too little. ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’ (16:18).
This reminds us that we have a God who does listen to us, and does understand our needs, and knows how to supply exactly what we need, not too much, nor too little. This is not just something that happened in the past, but is also the way God works today. Many times in the past when we didn’t think we would be able to pay our parish share, God managed to bring in the money we needed. I have also personally known God's provision just when I needed it the most.
God doesn't always supply what we want, but He does supply what we need. The challenge for the Israelite’s, and the challenge for us is to trust in the God who provides all good things.
Clearly for some of the Israelite’s, they found trusting God to be difficult. Because when they saw the manna, rather than collecting just enough for that day, they collected more than they needed, only to discover that the food spoiled, and was worthless. They had to learn an important lesson to trust God, and rely on Him day by day, just as we are called to trust God day by day.
For me this is the big challenge, because I realise I don’t trust God enough. But as we discover that we can trust God in the little things, so we can start to trust God with the big things.
So for me the challenge that God gives to me through this passage, is to learn to trust Him more, and to learn to rely on Him on a daily basis for my every need. Because at the end of the day, we have a God who loves us, and a God who knows our every need. Who better to trust?