Exodus 16

Two and one half months into the exodus, the approval rating of the new administration was zero. “And the whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” The source of the grumbling (on this occasion) was their hunger. With a common voice they let their leaders know they would have preferred slavery with a full stomach as opposed to freedom with an empty one.

The greater part of this passage though is devoted to God’s giving of manna to feed Israel in response to their grumbling. Very specific instructions were given as to how to gather the substance. If the instructions were not followed the manna would spoil into a nasty mess. Wasting manna was a concern to God.

This passage addresses another form of waste. This waste took place when the children of Israel blamed their unpleasant circumstances on their leaders. Moses and Aaron picked up on it immediately. They said,”..and what are we, that you grumble against us?” Moses attempted to redirect their complaints. “for the Lord hears your grumbling which you grumble against Him. And what are we (Aaron and I)? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.” Looking to men as our recourse is a tragic waste.

What Moses and Aaron were saying was the same thing the writer of Hebrews was trying to say; Don’t direct your complaints (or your praise) to men because ultimately it is “with HIm whom you have to do” (Heb 4:13). In God’s economy, He endeavors to give us abundant life through His Son, the Manna of Life. This vital nourishment will be wasted if we are not looking to Him as the One with whom we are really dealing with. The personal relationship God desires to establish with us requires that we process all of life through Him since He is, in actuality, our Life. It is in our abandonment to this living encounter that our relationship with Him grows and we personally become acquainted with His beautiful personality. This, most precious of all human opportunities will be squandered if we are blaming our unhappiness on people or circumstances. God does not want to see us make a nasty, bitter mess of our lives. Wasting Manna, which for us is nothing less than Jesus, our daily Bread, is still of concern to God.

The divine economics of “causing all things to work together for good to those who love God..“, implies God’s intentions are to use everything; to waste nothing that touches our lives. This is the essence of having a personal relationship with God, entrusting ourselves continually into His care. Here is how God has oriented Himself to us:

He has enclosed me behind and before, and laid His hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:5,6)

How God can make the circumstances of our lives that range in intensity from irritation to nightmarish is beyond our ability to understand but for those who can work through the pain and the temptation to be bitter, a deeper more refined faith results which has great value now and forevermore.

With whom do you have to do? Have you issued your approval rating ( or judgements) against those around you (especially God) that you consider to be the source of your misery?

Here is a prayer that was given to me that captures this idea and will be a great hedge against waste if we can build it into our lives (Thank you Charlie Finck)

Lord, I forgive (fill in the appropriate name). I give you permission to take the judgement and bitterness out of my heart. I don’t want this in my life. I surrender it to You and ask You to remove it – to heal me where I have been wounded, to forgive me where I have sinned. I choose not to blame or hold the actions of others against them. I herby surrender my right to be paid back for my loss by the one who has sinned against me, and in so doing, I declare my trust in You alone as my Righteous Judge. Father God, bless them in every way. In Jesus Name. Amen.


For those of us whose wildernesses have brought us to that place, as Brad Long describes it “where our neat theological synthesis collapse; where we are experiencing the raw paradoxes and mysteries of our faith – God’s love and wrath, our freedom of will and His sovereignty and the mystery of good and evil”, we are standing face to face with God. Here we simply stand in awe and silence with no explanations. Long would go on to say that “these are not empty dogmas but descriptions of the very core reality, and the only adequate interpretation of our deepest experience.”  My point in sharing from Long’s Passage Through The Wilderness is that the wilderness is not an accident; its a set up. If you are at or near this place in your pilgrimage, please read this book; especially Chapter 14, Anger With God. It might save your life and sanity, as it did mine.

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