Wednesday, August 1, 2012

God's Love: Providing in the Wilderness

7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium.
 8  The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. 9  When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.

Numbers 11:7-9

Thinking about the American family unit, there is a big emphasis on provision. American courts are set up to make sure that if a parent leaves a child behind, there are legal rulings that make sure that there is financial stability for the little one until they are old enough to provide for themselves. The american dream hinges on the concept of giving your kids more than you had. We work hard to make sure that our families can survive, and do a little better. People are providers. It’s part of how we show love.

The same goes for God.

The God of love that we think of provides for our needs. He gives us our “daily bread” (if you’ve never heard this term, it’s christianese for the concept of God sustaining us on the day to day). We believe that He gives us help with emotions, with hard situations, with basic needs like food or water... God provides.

This provision starts even in the beginning, but I’m always more impressed by the clarity of the example of the manna in the wilderness. If you don’t know the story, don’t worry, I’ll spell it out.

The wilderness was not a good place for the Israelites. After leaving Exodus, they weren’t happy to find that they would have to travel in order to get to the promise land. They were hot, tired, unhappy, and angry with both Moses and God for dragging them out. Several times they provoke God to destroy them- several times, Moses pleads for them and they are saved (but there are plagues). Let me reiterate- the wilderness was not a good place for the Israelites.

It was also not a good place for food. Not much grows in the desert, if you couldn’t guess. And even as a people coming out of a working civilization, Israel was not prepared to forge for food among their sandy travels. So there was a bit of a gap in the sustenance thing- the people needed to eat.

But even in the midst of the arguments with God, He did not let the people starve. God provided manna, which is described above, as a nutritional thing for the people. As a matter of fact, it came daily, so that every man was good until his full. God told the people to take it day by day, to not collect extra except on the sabbath, and to trust that He would provide. And he continued to until the people reached the land of milk and honey.

Manna was not dependent on God’s happiness with the people. He did not only send it when Israel was in his favor. As a matter of fact, Israel makes trouble based on the gift. But that is another story. The point here is that the God of provision, the God who cared for those He loves, did not start after the death on the hill. It started much earlier, and can be proven again and again with these wafer like cakes that fell at Sinai.

Even in the desert, God saw it fit to give to the people. He did not expect them to find it on their own, or to work hard to survive. He sent the food right to them, with the morning dew. It’s a form of love that we know- provision for those who we care for, even when they make us crazy. And it’s another good example of the fact that God has always been a God of love, even when the people’s hearts were not right before Him.

Because even in the desert of the worst times, God sent daily bread.