The Israelites followed Moses out of slavery to the Egyptians. There was great joy in leaving a place where they felt oppressed and used. A nation without a land of their own was beginning to venture out to blaze a trail to a new place that would bear their name. They were leaving behind a land of spiritual confusion and submission to create a new land where they could serve the one true God and live under their own laws. It had to be a very liberating feeling. They were leaving Egypt. A dream was becoming reality. I can picture the equivalent of a huge wagon train leaving the cities of the eastern United States bound for the unknown of the west.
I’m sure that this is the point in history that the phrase was first uttered, perhaps about ten minutes from the time that the cities of Egypt disappeared over the horizon, “Are we there yet?” Then moments after the first complaint that it was taking too long to reach the promised land, they realized that the very ones that had released them from bondage were on the way to take them back.
This makes me wonder why I have never heard the phrase “Egyptian Giver”. Maybe there is an equivalent to that and I just haven’t dug deep enough to find it.
God stepped in to deliver them from the “Egyptian Givers” as they crossed the Red Sea and they were home free, they wished. Are we there yet? They encountered hardship after hardship and God provided for them. But when they ran out of food in the middle of nowhere with no McDonald’s, no Burger King and not even a Waffle House in sight they became really discouraged. The more their stomachs growled, the more they grumbled.
Exodus 16:3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”
When I get hungry I get pretty crabby. My body starts complaining to my brain, my brain doesn’t want to hear it, all the complaining gives my brain a headache, my brain starts to complain to the rest of my body, my stomach responds by making embarrassing sounds and getting a queasy feeling and the world in general begins to look bleak. Even a couple of crackers can temporarily bring the world back into balance again but I know that sooner or later I am going to have to stuff the empty cavern in my gut with some substantial sustenance.
The Israelites were far hungrier than I have probably ever been. They felt that they would die. They should have known they wouldn’t because they had sufficient evidence that God doesn’t drag His people out into the wilderness to kill them off, but when a person is hungry they think some pretty stupid things. At least in Egypt they knew they could eat even if it meant they weren’t free. They wanted food and they wanted it right now. So God gave them food.
Exodus 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.”
God sent them manna. Manna was…well, I don’t know exactly what it was. It was food. It appeared every morning. They didn’t hunt it or gather it from the area around the camp. It was just there on the ground. Did they have to have food to keep going? You might quickly say, “Yes!” But the true answer is no. God could have sustained them without them taking a bite of food. I think they felt they needed to eat in order to believe they could carry on. So God had to sustain them in a way that they could wrap their minds around. But He did it with something they couldn’t understand. The stuff would rot if they tried to store it. They had to get new stuff every morning except for on the Sabbath, the manna would last an extra day so they didn’t have to collect the food from the ground when they should be worshiping the God that provided.
There are times that I retreated into the clutches of slavery because I didn’t believe that God was paying attention. I felt as if I was alone in the wilderness and God wasn’t with me anymore. I went back to the things God had delivered me from because I mistakenly felt I would not survive in the place God had brought me to. I have wasted a lot of years traveling back and forth between freedom and slavery. That ground between those two places is beat down with my footprints. The place God has been trying to lead me is like virgin wilderness. He wants to take me where no man has gone before. He wants me to trust Him and know that whatever I need to get from here to there is in His pocket and He will give it to me when I truly need it. Those things may be out of the realm of my imagination. They may be things no man has ever seen before.
Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
God, help me to trust in you no matter where I am and how far away you feel. Help me to know that you are my help and you are always ready. You will not let me die. Amen.