The Wild Places Bible Guide – 3
March 13, 2019
Wednesday, March 13
16 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Sin desert, which is located between Elim and Sinai. They set out on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt.2 The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. 3 The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction. 5 On the sixth day, when they measure out what they have collected, it will be twice as much as they collected on other days.”6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt.7 And in the morning you will see the Lord’s glorious presence, because your complaints against the Lord have been heard. Who are we? Why blame us?” 8 Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning because the Lord heard the complaints you made against him. Who are we? Your complaints aren’t against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole Israelite community, ‘Come near to the Lord, because he’s heard your complaints.’” 10 As Aaron spoke to the whole Israelite community, they turned to look toward the desert, and just then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared in the cloud.
11 The Lord spoke to Moses, 12 “I’ve heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat. And in the morning you will have your fill of bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”
Points of Interest
- God’s newly freed people leave the oasis named after the god “El” and enter the desert named for the Canaanite moon-god Sin. (The connection to the English word for missing the mark or bad living is entirely coincidental.) The God of Israel proves again and again to not just be another tribal god. This Divine Mother/Father/Creator/Guide can be found everywhere and anywhere, even in places dedicated to or known for other gods.
- It’s easy to get a little judgy about these stories of constant grumbling and complaining, unless we notice the time. It’s been forty-three days on the road, on foot in a hot, dry land without enough water or foot. I’d be pretty whiny myself!
- In hard or confusing times, it’s easy to lose perspective. Forty-three days of trouble, and they wish they had died. That, or they wish they could return to what their life used to be; they fondly remember the occasional big, fireside meal, forgetting they were enslaved!
- The hangry (hungry + angry) people lose perspective both in romanticizing their past and in blaming God. I think we see two temptations we all face in hard times – fantasy for a life we wish we had but that doesn’t exist, and fear that God or life or the universe is out to rob us of the good we wish we had, or that others have now. This loss of perspective only compounds our pain. The people aren’t just hot and hungry, they’re also alienated and bitter.
- Once again, Moses is understandably, predictably stressed and defensive. God is not. God devises a rain-bread-from-the-sky and fat-birds-gather-at-twilight plan to address the hunger of the people God loves.
- God attaches a learning opportunity to God’s provision. In hard times, God is interested in taking care of us, but also teaching us. We’ll examine this lesson more tomorrow, but it seems related to learning to live in the present, trusting that each day God will again give us what we need.
A Direction for Prayer
Pray for the most hungry and angry and lonely and tired residents of your city, that God will provide for them the relief they need this day. After this prayer, ask God is God would like to help gently reframe your perspective of your own life circumstances in any way.
Spiritual Exercise of the Week
Honest Prayer and Requests for Encounter, Discovery, and Rescue – This week, you are invited to name a place in your life where you are out of your element, beyond your resources, or out of control. Tell God about this. How is it that you want to experience God’s faithful love with you? What do you hope to learn in this season? How is it that you would like God to rescue you?