Sunday September 20: Living love through provision

August 21, 2020 by Greg Allen-Pickett

Exodus 16:2-3,11-15

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”… The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'” In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of 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 one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

God shows us love by providing for us, even when we complain! This story of the Israelites in Exodus reminds us that one way God shows love for us is through provision. There is actually a double provision in this story. The Israelites are complaining about Moses and Aaron and their leadership, which has led them into the wilderness and left them hungry. God provides manna and meat to the people, which is both a physical provision to hungry people, and also a provision to Moses and Aaron to get the people to stop complaining about them and their leadership.

God provides for us in many of the same ways, both with physical provision to meet our needs, but also by providing us cover when people are turning against us. These are two ways that God shows God’s love for us. In turn, we are called to love others in the same way, by providing for their physical needs, and also by providing them support when they are unjustly under attack. This has many applications, both in the context of church life and in the context of our daily lives out in the world. It also does point us back to generosity, as we are called to provide for the needs of others, including by giving to the church to support that work. This same analysis could be applied to Exodus 17:1-7, which is the Old Testament lectionary passage for next week.