A Grumbling People & Food in the Desert

Today's Bible reading: Exodus 16:1-15

The crossing of the Red Sea is recorded in Exodus chapter 14, and the whole next chapter - Chapter 15 - is one long victory song.  But, the victory song at the Red Sea didn’t last for long.  Soon Israel was singing a less happy tune: “The people grumbled against Moses.”   This marks the beginning of a very recurrent refrain from the people of Israel … and it implies an even worse complaining – against God Himself!

It would seem that God's people sometimes prefer the old slavery to the new freedom – even today.  Freedom means living constantly at God's mercy … by faith in His protective care.

It's amazing how we see certain biblical themes repeat.  If you remember back at the time of Noah, things had gotten so bad that God would've been justified in simply wiping people off the face of the earth and starting from scratch.  But God - in His grace - rescued Noah and his family … and showed His mercy.  And we find the same situation here: who could blame God for giving up on such a rebellious people?   Why not let them die of hunger and thirst, if all they can do is complain?  Amazingly, God doesn’t follow our human standards of right and justice.  As the Rescuer, He supplies water, quails, and manna – even to unthankful stiff-necked Israel.

New Testament writers later saw in the Exodus and desert wanderings a foreshadowing of the even greater rescue God prepared in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Himself declared that He was the “bread of life” sent down from heaven – greater food than even the miraculous manna. And in the “Baptism” of Israel in the Red Sea, the eating of manna, and the drinking of water from the rock, Paul sees types of the sacraments in which Christ is truly present among His people.  He also recalls the murmuring of the people, and warns against taking God’s grace for granted.

Prayer: Lord, lead us in productive labor and healing rest, even as You labored to grant us rest by Your cross and resurrection.  Amen