August 5 – 11th Sunday After Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Exodus 16:2 – 15
Grace and peace to you as you learn from God’s past about your future, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It’s hard to visualize the Israelites traveling in the wilderness. Oh, many of us have seen pictures of refugees fleeing from countries because of war and persecution, but in most cases those pictures are of only thousands of people and not the nearly 2 million people moving from Egypt to the promised land, with a stop at Mt. Sinai. It has been said that as the people of Israel traveling, they covered an area of a mile wide and 10 miles long and it wasn’t just people, but along with the people there were carts and wagons, donkeys, camels, goats, sheep and cattle. It’s hard to imagine this massive amount of people and animals moving through a wilderness and crossing the Red Sea, but it happened with God’s guidance.
Oh, we may have been a part of a large group at some time or another but can you imagine traveling in a group of 2 million people with young and old and with all the animals and then living in tents each night. If you saw the miracles that God did to save you from the swords of the Egyptians by the crossing of the Red Sea and how He provided water from a rock. But you were now running out of the food you had brought out of Egypt and the land you were traveling through could hardly feed the animals much less the 2 million people, what would you do? Would you be a part of the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against
Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”’ (Gen. 16:2-3)
Oh, our situation in life is quite different from that of the Israel’s, but there always seems to be something to grumble about, doesn’t there. For if it’s not about the location it’s the weather; if it not the weather it’s the distance we have to travel to get to our job or to go shopping; if it not the traffic it’s the people we work with; if it’s not the people we work with or our neighbors or the church then it’s the Broncos, the Rockies or something else that we are interested in but have no control over. We can in many ways understand the grumbling that the people of Israel were doing against Moses and Aaron, but do we understand God’s response to our grumbling and theirs.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring
in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” (Ex. 16:4-5) God understands the people’s concern for He is their maker and keeper, so instead of being upset with the people He reveals His concern for their well-being. How is God revealing His concern for our well-being today? When we look around at how God is providing for our well-being, we need to compared ourselves with other areas of the world so that we can understand God’s response a little better. Take for example the health system, in this part of the world and compare it to the health system in a refugee camp in some other part of the world. When we realize that both of these come from God’s concern for us we might look at our complaining a little differently. Why do we have more and better than somebody else? Are we better people than someone else, or are we less of a sinner? Do we somehow deserve more of God’s Love and concern than the rest of the world? When we look beyond our self we find that we need to give thanks to God for all that He has rained down upon us instead of complaining about our situation. God is showing His concern for our lives by providing us with what is needful, even if the rain is made up of raindrops instead of golden coins. God is providing for all our needs, even when we, His people, complain and abandon our trust and faith in Him.
So, Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt,7 and in the morning, you shall see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against Him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumbling.’” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning, you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” (Ex. 16:6 – 12)
The people of Israel were shown that the Lord God was concern about them as He caused the plagues upon Egypt and not upon the Israelites. The people of Israel were shown that the Lord God was concern about them as He gave them the wealth of Egypt as they left the land of their slavery. The people of Israel were shown that the Lord God was concern about them as He saved them from the Egyptian army by the crossing the Red Sea while drowning the Egyptians in the depths of the Red Sea. The people of Israel were shown that the Lord God was concern about them as He guided them along their journey by a cloud during the day and a fire by night. The people of Israel were shown that the Lord God was concern about them as He provided them water were there was no water and food where there is no food available.
As you look at your past years in this world how has God shown His concern for your well-being? God has brought us to His Word and give us faith in the saving work done by His Only Son, Jesus Christ. God has provided us with food, income, shelter, protection and support. God has given us guidance along the path of righteousness, through His Word and Sacraments, so that we can live with Him now and in the heavenly home prepared for us. With all that God had provided for the Israelites, you would think that they could easily see the glory of God in their lives daily but they still found reasons for grumbling and complaining against the Lord and His messengers. With all that God has provided us in this world you would think that we would see God’s glory and give Him thanks?
The glory of the Lord can be found in some of the simplest ways and in some of the most magnificent places, but you have to open your eyes and your hearts to the Lord’s Words to come to know His great concern for you. God’s Word and His glory is given to you as you open your hearts and minds in worship with Him through His Word and Sacraments as the Holy Spirit goes to work in your life now and forever.
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. (Ex. 16:13 – 15)
“What is it?” that God has given for us? That’s the question that we should be asking each time we come up with a reason to complain about God’s concern for our lives. “What is it?” that God has given to us that we may have live and not be in slavery to death? “What is it?” that makes God wants us to live with Him for eternity? “What is it?” that enables us to see beyond the misery of this sin filled world to the hope of our future? God answers our questions “What is it?” with Jesus tells us, “This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn 6:50- 51)
God rains down His love for us by sending His Only Son into our sin filled world to take all our sins upon Himself and make the full and final payment for them by His life, death and resurrection. God rains down His grace upon us so that we can live with Him now and for all eternity in the heavenly home that He has prepared for us. God rains down His mercy on us to give us a hope and a trust, not in the ways of man, but in the loving concerns and care that God has for each of us.
I want you to look at the picture that is on the front of your bulletin once again. There are three children with a mother and a father in the foreground of this picture. I want you to notice that one of them is sleeping in the loving arms of his mother, the second little boy is complaining or asking for more of the Manna to be put in his basket and the third little girl has her hands full of the manna and is looking up to God with the question “What is it?” wanting to give thanks to God for providing what was needed.
We are this family of God and we are his children that He loves dearly but today will we be the child of God nestled in the loving arms of our Lord without a care in the world, trusting in our Lord’s loving arms to provide for us or are we the child of God that is complaining about what we have received and wanting it our way, while our Lord lovingly helps us even when we don’t appreciate what we have or are we the child of God that is thankful for all that we have received and asking at the same time “What is it?” wanting to know more about of Lord’s loving concern for us? We are a Children of God and His concern for us is seen in His love, grace and mercy given to us each and every day. God’s concern for us is always there, but as every parent knows the response to what is given to your children can be comforting, concerning or courageous, it all depending on the way we receive and respond to God’s love, grace and mercy raining down on us. Amen.