2017-09-24 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
“See the Glory of the Frost”
Some sources say it takes 30 days to break a habit…and Israel seems to be right on the mark…30 days into their desert wanderings and they’ve totally got over the providence of YHWH. “Being saved at the Red Sea is so ‘30-days ago’…surely the LORD is due to release another mind-jarring miracle amongst us, hmm?”
Moses and Aaron are doing their best to keep the crowds on course… “C’mon y’all…just another 40-km-day of getting sand-blasted and baked in the gruelling desert sun… it’s gonna be great!”
Moses: “Right…I know we’ve run out of bread…and meat…but it…it get’s better…really, it gets better…right, Lord?”
And so begins the great grumble of 1250 BCE…
“Aaron, Moses…yes, we’re talking to you…
If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in Egypt!
There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted…
But YOU….YOU two…have brought us out into this wilderness to starve us all to death!”
Oh the joy and privilege of leadership!
The story doesn’t tell us what Moses said to the grumblers…it seems he ran to the LORD for an answer…and the LORD of Israel did not rain down lightning bolts of judgment…the LORD promises a rain of…bread!?!
Moses and Aaron say to the Israelites:
“This evening you shall know it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall SEE THE GLORY of the LORD,
because he has heard your COMPLAINING against the LORD.”
Moses can’t help but add…
“What are we? What are we? That you complain against us?
Your complaining is not against us…but against the LORD!”
….That evening quail came and covered the camp,
and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.
When the dew lifted there on the surface of the wilderness
Was a fine flaky substance,
As fine as frost on the ground.
When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?”
Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”
* * * * * * *
And so the lesson of today’s story is that with great grumbling comes great generosity from the hands & heart of God.
In YHWH’s economy of grace, Israel’s groans and grumbles unleash God’s generous bounty of “frost-carbs!”
For 14,600 days (40 years in the wilderness), every woman, man & child would have free access to 2 quarts of manna per day…and 4 quarts on Saturday to ensure a Sabbath rest!
…with great grumbling comes great generosity!?!
Yes…it’s too good to be true.
Because God is so good and so true.
God promised to Moses during the burning bush encounter…God told an 80 year old man to set the captives free…saying “I will be WHAT I will be”…. “I AM is with you.”
And maybe it was in these early days of faith and obedience that Moses formed the prayer of Psalm 90…
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn us back to dust,
and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
…Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love… (vv.13-14).
* * * * *
And it seems that God was really good at mornings…
40 years of manna in the wilderness.
40 years of providence…practical, physical care.
40 years of “giving us this day, our daily bread.”
We tell and re-tell these stories of the Exodus because they remind (inform) us of our identity and our destiny.
They tell us who we are…and whose we are.
And we don’t tell these stories of God’s everlasting love and faithfulness because we think we were good enough, or religious enough, or obedient enough…to earn God’s favour.
Good news preachers and sojourners tell these stories to remind us that God is God!
And God, in the end (and it seems even in the middle), God gets what God wants.
And God wants the whole world!
God wants to save, redeem and deliver.
Even when we find ourselves dead set against him…cursing God’s name and cursing God’s messengers and leaders…God says: “I AM the LORD your God.”
>> So…how shall we live as the redeemed of the LORD this week?
I found this prayer, that I hope will help shape our hearts and imaginations…
PATIENT GOD…while you got your people out of Egypt, it was a little tougher to get Egypt out of your people, who were willing to trade their freedom for a square meal.
But if I scratch beneath my own surface, I find a tendency to gripe and whine against your goodness. Liberate me from my very small self and bring me into the spacious freedom of your will. Amen.
“We Have Come to Join in Worship” (v.2)
See them gather all around you,
Those he bought at such a cost;
See the weary, see the hurting,
See the lonely, see the lost.
Be his hand, and touch the needy;
Be his gospel, let it sound!
Be his body, and sweet manna
Will be showered all around.
POINTS TO PONDER:
–Reflect on the journey inward…eat the bread of Christ, Christ is in us! He feeds us!
–Listen for how God might be preparing the way for the journey outward
–“Liberate me…Lord, liberate us!”
–Pray…for creative + risk-taking ministry of the church in the community
— Be God’s hands…good news….body…and sweet manna will be showered all around
God of glory and grace,
Fill us again with your presence,
Sustain us, assure us,
You are, “I AM”…
Speak to us of our identity and destiny because of your promise to be with us and for us…
You are the bread of life,
Feed us, nurture us and continue to provide for us.
Give us this day, our daily bread,