Exodus 16:1-4. They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.
The wilderness continues. And with it more grumbling – Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt… for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
First they complained about no water, now they complain about no food.
To be fair, water and food are pretty important. I tend to get hangry myself. Although I’m not sure I’ve ever been so hungry I accused God of wanting to kill me. But we can be sure that what the Hebrews are experiencing is a pretty big deal. So it’s alright to sympathize with them a bit here.
God responds to their grumbling with the test of the manna – I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.
As we said yesterday, our life in Christ is the desert not the promised land. And what that means is that this life is a life of testing.
Literally your whole life is a test. There aren’t “times of testing.” Are you in the middle of a trial? That’s a test. Are you in the middle of great peace and prosperity. Yep, that’s also a test.
Because we are in the wilderness. We’re not in heaven yet. We’re not fully in God’s presence. We’re not hugging Jesus. We’re not literally face to face with God. We’re not yet what we will be. And obviously neither is the world around us.
So if your life is one big dumpster fire, the question is “will you trust God?”
If your life is #blessed, the question is “will you trust God?”
But the truth is that life is a big mix of good and bad. Mostly life is kind of meh. Medium. Ordinary. Sometimes boring even. And in these medium places the question is “will you trust God?”
Life can feel like the Medium Place.
Think about what God did in the desert. God said to the Hebrews “I’m going to test you by raining down food for you.”
That’s so cool! Breakfast from heaven! We wake up every morning and there’s food on the ground! What will it be? Waffles? Western omelets? Bacon (oh I pray it’s bacon).
No. It’s a flaky bread-ish thing.
Exodus 16:14-15. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.
Manna – what is it? (that’s what manna means). This food is so basic, so boring, it doesn’t even have a name.
Is that the test?
I know the test is can the Hebrews obey all the rules that come with manna collection.
- Gather enough for your family (16:16)
- But don’t gather too much (16:16)
- Don’t save any for the next day (16:19)
- Gather double on the Sabbath (16:22)
- And don’t look for any on the Sabbath (16:26).
Yep, that’s a lot of tests. But the real problem the Hebrews would have was not how they collected the manna but how they responded to the simplicity of the manna.
Numbers 21:5. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”
Life in Christ is a miracle. But it’s also simple. Ordinary. Basic. It’s manna. It’s from heaven but it’s not flashy. It’s “daily bread.”
But we want something more. More than the manna. More than Christ. We want to be able to brag about all the signs and wonders that God has done in our lives. We want experiences and feelings. We want a life full of blessings. Don’t believe me? Try going to almost any church prayer meeting. What are Christians praying for? Is it to know Christ and his grace more and more? Is it to live the crucified life? Or is it everything but Christ?
But what God offers is this simple, wafery, little bread. And this simple bread IS the glory of God.
Exodus 16:7. …and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord.
“OK then give me more and more of the manna,” you say.
Sorry, you can only collect enough for today.
Exodus 16:19-21. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
More of Jesus, like more of the manna, is impossible. You’ve got all the Jesus you need for today. You woke up with all of him you’re going to get. All your sins are still forgiven. All his love is still yours. His death and resurrection are truly all you need to sustain you today. Anything more is stinky worms.
“To live is Christ” is a life of testing. Will you be satisfied with the miraculous yet ordinary, basic, and simple life and death of Christ? Is he enough? And is enough of him enough? Are you looking for something beyond Christ and calling it Christ? That’s the test. The test of satisfaction. Is the crucified Jesus enough for us today and every day?