Saturday, August 16, 2008

Manna from Heaven

One of the great stories about economics and the human condition is found in the Bible during the time of Moses. About 3,200 years ago, give or take a couple of centuries. If you're a bit rusty on the story, rent The Ten Commandments.

Moses was sent to deliver the Hebrews from Egypt. It seems they had overstayed their welcome by about 400 years and were now in the clutches of a new Pharoah who feared them and thus made them slaves. They should have and could have gone back to their land of promise (Israel) years earlier but they had been seduced by their own prosperity in the fertile land of Egypt. True: God did deliver them from a great famine 400 years earlier during the time of Israel (Jacob). Genesis 40-42. But that didn't mean they had to stay there.

No sooner had they been delivered from a land they shouldn't have been in, we find them whining about desiring the fleshpots of Egypt.

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. Exodus 16:3,4

This a great story about God providing and the human heart being revealed. No matter what anyone did with this bread from heaven, MANNA, they had just enough.

Those that gathered more than a day's worth found out that it simply spoiled.
(These were the ones that didn't want to trust in God's provision. They weren't keeners about the part of the Lord's prayer that says, "give us this day our daily bread".)

Those that gathered little always had just enough. That must have really pissed off the more industrious types. Sure there may have been a few slouchers in this group but generally it was to ensure that the frail or young would have enough.

The story of Manna from heaven teaches us a lot about the condition of the human heart. It reveals the willingness of people to trust in God or themselves.

More significantly it teaches us about how we are to interpret God's law.
What was the purpose of the law?
Some would say that it's primary purpose was to show our waywardness.

But that is too shallow a view. The law is primarily a revealer of the very nature of God. In the case of His provision and the rules for how much to gather it revealed His desire for equality.

In our world there is an incredible disparity between rich and poor. Sadly, very little has been done within any church models that I am aware of that even attempts to talk about this issue and very few practical things are being done to bridge the economic gap within our world.

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