(continued from October 2017)
Life lessons from Exodus chapters 16 and 17...
They moaned endlessly, complained bitterly. After all the amazing events they had witnessed, trusting God should have been the first – not the last – port of call. But it began with the hunger, then the thirst. After that came nomadic raiders, the Amalekites... Oh, to be back in Egypt as slaves!
Every morning, after the dew had evaporated, they were to collect thin, frost-like flakes from the ground. It was like bread - bread from heaven - and this would be breakfast. They were to collect enough for their needs that day. Moses told them not to try to hoard the stuff. Some ignored him, of course, and found that he was right. Overnight it quickly became maggoty and smelly. However, they were instructed to gather enough on Friday to feed them on Saturday, the day of rest. ‘Rest’ because they needed it, not because it was a rule. On Friday night the manna did not go maggoty and smelly. On Saturday (Sabbath) the manna did not appear on the ground. On Sunday it did.
Every twilight they were provided with the tender meat of quails - bread and meat. And water when Moses struck the rock at Horeb (Mount Sinai). Archaeologists are unable to explain the existence of water at this site.
It was all going to be provided anyway, but they forgot God and they liked moaning better than praying and trusting. They liked best moaning about their leaders. They hated not being in control of circumstances, hated being helpless.
Then the Amalekites came. So while Moses sent Joshua and his men to fight, he stood on a hill watching the battle rage around him with his arms reaching wide and high in prayer to God. All the time they were raised the battle went Joshua’s way but when he lowered his weary limbs ascendency was with the Amalekites. Unable to plead in his own strength, Moses let his brother, Aaron, support one arm and his trusted friend Hur, the other. Stubborn independence: a mask for weakness. Greatness: an acknowledgement of need.
And so the battle was won.
As Moses stretched out his arms to plead for physical salvation for his people, so Christ stretched out his to plead for mankind - his arms not held by a loving brother, but by Roman nails. And in pleading alone on a hill, he was also the one fighting the battle. Alone. The enemy that raged around him was not visible and human, but the spiritual enemy of all people.
Man’s instinct is to crave independence of God. But our Father, wants us to have a wonderful relationship with him, to depend on him.... for that is what Christ – our bread from heaven – died for, and that is how life works best.
‘My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4.19)