God Provides – But Not Always How We ]Expect

Exodus 16:2-15  (NRSV)

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”[a] For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

 

 

Homily —

ILLUSTRATION

 

In the mid 1980s, a minister moved to northern Saskatchewan to start a church. As a church planter, part of his support was funded by the local mission. Most months were difficult financially. He had a side Fix It shop business

One week in April, when the ground is still frozen and snow-covered, he was down to only a few dollars in the bank. The usual reaction to that need was to look for our own solution. This time, however, in a stroke of faith, he went before God and told him that he needed eggs, bread, and milk. The minister would wait upon God.

That afternoon, a man came to my little fix-it shop with a leaky teakettle.

He said, “I know I could get another, but it’s my favorite kettle. Please fix it.” In a matter of minutes the job was done, and the minister didn’t even charge him for it.

But the man pulled out a $10 bill and insisted that the minister take it—

It was just enough to buy a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread.

As the man left, the minister, with a bit of pride in his faith decision, thanked God, to which God replied:

“Don’t you wish you had asked for a side of beef?”

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Anyone who has ever led a large group of people through unfamiliar territory is sure to have heard complaints –

often over trivial matters — from some or even many members of the group.

The complaining can quickly sour relationships and provoke the leader to regret that he or she took the group away in the first place.

The complaining is loud and clear in this Exodus passage. Moses, Aaron and God get an earful.

 

No one likes listening to complaint.

Individuals in power or in the majority can often choose to ignore a complaint,

dismiss it as mere whining, or punish the complainant.

In contrast,

to listen to a complaint involves seeing the world from another’s position and hearing    a call to act.

So – it is not fair to condemn the Israelites for complaining

That is a judgment that the text itself does not make,

sending the message that          complaint has no place in life with God.

But, it does have a place in life with God…

The book of Lamentations, the laments in Psalms give voice

to the human experience of abandonment, suffering, fear, and danger.

The laments call upon God to see, arise, and act

JOB

MAKES a detailed complaint against God’s treatment of the righteous and God’s management of the world.

 

JESUS

Cries out  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

_________

By complaining – those who are afraid and hungry are expressing their need for God –

Not turning away from God… but let’s  God KNOW things need to be made better.

 

All of us have known times of uncertainty and upheaval.

Times when fear of the  unknown gets the best of us.

 

This story gives the wonderful promise of God’s provision, which is reassuring to                                               all of us.

 

We often let our fears get the better of us…

and fear of the unknown can do it quite easily.

 

This is when we look back to   previous times – to a familiar –

We overlook how bad it was,

 

and remember what might have been better than now…

 

Remember

The past is a known —    something we have already traveled and conquered…

 

BUT

The now and future are undecided…

Unknown…

Scary…

 

 

In our story today,

the need for bread in this early stage of the Journey out of bondage is about                            an opportunity for God and God’s people to get to know each other — understand and           trust   the other…

 

It is the early part of a new relationship –

 

Understandably – the Israelites let their hunger and fears cause doubts in how God was                               caring for them.

 

Within the first month in the wilderness – people were whining and complaining to Aaron and Moses about being hungry and thirsty=–

Where was the food and drink to come from?

 

This is when their fears of the unknown and unseen outweigh their memories of how bad it was for them in Egypt.

 

Because at least in bondage, they were assured food.

 

They fall into that thought –

better the enemy you know –          than the enemy you don’t know

 

Familiarity offers comfort – even in the direst situations…

 

But God heard their complaints – and   sent meat and bread

 

But only a day’s worth….

 

 

Give us this day our daily bread…and meat.

 

What was it that God wanted these people to learn?

 

What is it that God wants us to learn?

Could it be – God wants us to learn that GOD WILL PROVIDE and learn what that looks like?

After the whining and complaining to          Moses and Aaron,

God pours manna from heaven,

And the people didn’t understand it..

They failed to see that God had provided for their needs, because it was not in the form         they had envisioned…

 

Probably expected

Loaves of Rotella Bread

Or      Matza crackers

 

So when they found some flakey substance  scattered on the ground— Manna semi-transparent oleo-gum resin extracted from Commiphora Tree

They did not recognize it was what they needed…

  • I kind of think it is like if
    • we were in a restaurant – ordered a beer and what came to the table was
  • Grain -Barley
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Water

Technically, it was beer – just not in the form we expected –

The word manna HEBREW means

What Is It?

When we talk about Manna from Heaven—

We are really saying –

WHAT IS IT? FROM HEAVEN

 

When have we missed what God provides                                                                      because we are looking for something specific?

We miss the manna looking for the McMuffin?

Do we miss the gift because it comes in a different package?

SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS

Once there was a Christian woman who lived next door to an atheist man.

Every day, when the Christian woman prayed, the atheist man could hear her.

The atheist thought to himself, “She sure is crazy, praying all the time like that. Doesn’t she know there isn’t a God?”

Many times while she was praying, he would go to her house and harass her, saying

“Lady, why do you pray all the time? Don’t you know there is no God?” But she kept on praying.

One day, she ran out of groceries and as usual,

she prayed to the Lord explaining her situation and thanking Him for what He was going to do.

As usual, the atheist heard her praying and thought to himself,

“I’ll prove to her there is no God once and for all.”

The atheist went to the grocery store, bought a bunch of groceries, took them to her house, dropped them off on the front porch,

rang the doorbell and then hid in the bushes to see what she would do.

When the Christian lady opened the door and saw the groceries,

she began to praise the Lord with all her heart, thanking God for providing for her needs.

Immediately, the atheist jumped out of the bushes and told her,

 

“You silly lady, God didn’t buy you those groceries, I bought those groceries for you!”

The Christian lady looked to heaven and said with great joy, “God, I knew you would provide me with groceries, but I didn’t know you was         going to make the devil buy              and deliver for them!”

  • God Will Provide
  • _____________
  • We also have to remember that when God provides – it is in GOD’s time

The Israelites HAD to wait on God to          provide in God’s time.

And

Would provide only what was needed for that day –

“Give us this day, our daily bread”

__

Our needs will be filled – as needs arise… without having to HOARD for tomorrow

Luke 12:24 

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.

Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Disciples sent out

 [3] He told them: “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. [4] Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. [5] If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

They were to depend on God to provide – through the kindness of strangers…

Their needs would be met, as their needs appeared.

  • ILLUS
  • A pastor needed $1 million for the building they were purchasing.
  • The settlement date was getting closer and closer.
  • The pastor just kept praying.
  • Then the day before settlement date an envelope arrived in the mail.
  • It was a check for $1 million.
  • The pastor said,
  • “GOD, why didn’t you send this earlier?”
  • God said,
  • “You didn’t need it earlier.”

God will ALWAYS provide!

_________________