Exodus 16:1-30; John 4:31-35; John 6:35-40; John 17:14-22;
Tonight begins Shabbat, the sabbath day God called holy and commanded as a day of rest. It is one of His appointed times (see leviticus 23:1-3) specifically set aside for His people to meet with Him and remember. Remember His goodness, remember His privision, remember His holiness and His sovereignty.
My family has, for the last couple of years, begun to honor and celebrate the sabbath in our home. We by no means do it perfectly, but we do it because we want to honor God and be in His presence.
One of the Shabbat traditions is to make challah bread. Tonight as we finished our meal, I asked if anyone knew why I made two loaves of challah bread on Shabbat. They gave me lots of answers, some thoughtful and some silly, but no one knew why. I explained that it is in remembrance of the double portion of manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness.
While Israel wandered through the desert after leaving Egypt, they didn’t have farms, vineyards, or herds. They literally had no way to provide food for themselves. So God sent them manna.
Each morning God would send manna, and each family would gather what they needed for the day. No more, no less. In fact, if they tried to keep any for the next day it would rot. I’m talking putrid, maggot infested rottenness.
Except on Friday’s. On Friday, God would send a double portion so no one would have to gather food on the Sabbath, because that was the day He commanded them to rest. This was the only day that the food would not spoil if it were kept till the next day.
After taking about this with my family, as they cleared their plates and dispersed through out the house into their usual Friday night activities of game playing and movie watching, I stayed at the table thinking. I was thinking what it must have been like for the Israelites. I knew they had to depend on God for their provision in the wilderness, but tonight it hit me just how much faith that must have taken.
Yes, they had to trust God to give them food everyday. But, it was more than that. They didn’t get to stock up their pantry for the week. They didn’t even get to keep their leftovers from dinner. They literally had to go to bed at night believing God would keep His promise tomorrow. Because if He didn’t, they’d starve.
We live in a culture and a time where that kind of faith isn’t usually necessary. Our pantries are full along with our bellies. And when we go to the grocery store it isn’t because our cupboards are bare. In a land of plenty, it’s faith our that can sometimes go stale.
I think the danger here lays in getting too comfortable with what the world provides. We forget to seek out what God wants to give us. At least I know that to be true for me.
It makes me think about Israel when they were carted off to Babylon. Babylon was comfy. It was plentiful. It was lush. Not a bad place to be a captive. The goal of Babylonian captivity was to conquer by assimilation.
The US is not unlike Babylon in its lavishness. Even the poor here have more than many people living in third world countries around the world. Our culture has done a good job assimilating us to the comforts of this world. So much so that many of us have forgotten we are not of this world.
We belong to a heavenly kingdom. This world is not our home.
I don’t want my faith to go stale. I don’t want to be so comfortable that I forget I still need to depend on God everyday. I don’t want to get so accustomed to the full cupboard in my kitchen that I miss out on the feast at my Father’s table. But I know that, in some ways, I have.
In what ways have I forgotten that God is my portion?
In what ways can I better set my heart on the bread Jesus provides rather than the comforts of this world?
Lord, help me get to a place of complete dependence upon you. Help me get to that place where I ask you for my daily bread, and really mean it. Just as Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work,” let me remember that You have work for me to do, too. My food, my daily bread, is You, Lord. In Jesus name I pray, amen.