Exodus 16:19-20 (NIV)
Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it (Manna) until morning.”
However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
The year is approximately 1445 BC, only 15 days after the great Exodus. Israel finds themselves in the wilderness with little food provisions for 2 million people. The average Israelite most likely had prepared themselves for short trip, but now it was lasting longer than anticipated. The confinement of the desert certainly causes most families to question what’s next? How long are we going to be in this situation? I can guess that most parents began to look at their children and wondered how and why they got into this troubling situation. Exodus 16:3 says that people began to complain and ask Moses why he had lead them out of Egypt where they at least they had food on the table and plenty of provisions to live on. Now, living in the wilderness, there was only uncertainty and fear of what tomorrow would bring.
God tells Moses in the next few verses of chapter 16 that He understands Israels plight and that He would be their provision by raining down bread from heaven in the morning and quails at night. The only stipulation was that they were only to gather enough for one day’s worth of provision, except for the day before the Sabbath, where there would be an extra amount for two days. God would provide all that they needed during these desert days; they only had to follow His instructions. Pretty simple, yet for some reason, the people came up with their own ideas.
Why would they keep the manna overnight? Maybe they took more than they needed to begin with? Maybe they feared that God would not come through and that there would not be a fresh supply the next morning? Is there any real harm in gathering more? What if it were toilet paper? What if the Lord put on our doorstep each morning just enough toilet paper for one day? And what if he instructed us to keep none until morning. Would we obey or would we try to hoard more just in case?
If I were to put myself in the shoes of the Israelites in the desert, I guess I can see myself wanting to trust God but also wanting a back up plan. Is it OK to hedge my bet, just in case the toilet paper, I mean manna, doesn’t show up tomorrow morning? What’s so bad about making a plan B? Maybe storing the manna overnight is not a matter of good vs. bad or even obedience vs. disobedience. What if the real issue is fear vs. faith? Will we trust in God’s provision or will I trust my own abilities? Maybe this is one of the lessons of this virus season? Do we trust God to be Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will provide – or do we trust our own ways?
One more thought from the passage today. In verse 20 it says: “However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.”
I think that when we don’t pay attention to the instructions of God we run the risk of the beautiful provisions of manna turning into the smell of maggots of our own creation. How can something so good turn into something so bad, literally, overnight? It did for the those Isrealites that found themselves in the wilderness. My prayer is that during these challenging days, we don’t follow their example and find out. The only true way for us to know is if we seek his Kingdom and His righteousness first. It’s easy to believe we would not hoard the manna, but maybe were not so different from those Israelites 15 days removed from their exodus.
Lord I ask that you would help me not to trust in my own wisdom or understanding but rather acknowledge you in all my ways. I know that hoarding is not trusting and that worry is not faith. May my daily thoughts be centered on you and on those I can bless during this time of wilderness. Thank you that you always provide and you never let the children of the righteous beg for bread.