Bible reading for March 5: Exodus 16; Luke 19.
"The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan." (Exodus 16:35)
Exiting Egypt. A large group of emancipated Israelites, along with others ("a mixed multitude", Ex 12:38), are on the move to Mt. Sinai. "Exodus" means "going out". The size of the nation at this point is estimated at 2 to 3 million. The people complain again about food, and God provides quail. But then the Lord begins providing a new food that will be gathered from the ground each morning and baked into a kind of bread...
Manna-cotti? The name "manna" comes from the people's reaction, being the Hebrew phrase for "what is it?" It may not have been exactly what everyone wanted in terms of diet but it tasted good, was nutritious, and they survived forty years in the wilderness on this regular supply from the Lord. The Israelites, however, always seemed to be remembering the onions and leeks they ate in Egypt! (See Num 11:5) Keith Green, in his 1980 album, "So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt", captures a bit of Israel's discontent...
And in the morning it's manna hotcakes
We snack on manna all day
And we sure had a winner last night for dinner
Flaming manna souffle
What? Oh no, manna again?
Oh, manna waffles / Manna burgers / Manna bagels
Filet of manna / Manna patty / BoManna bread!
God provides for his people, even though sometimes it does not always match what they'd like him to provide! This manna from heaven foreshadowed our Lord and Savior, who is the Bread of Life: Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." (John 6:32-33)
No surplus, no lack. Later, the Apostle Paul cites verse 18, "...whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat" (Ex 16:18), as an example of equitable sharing of resources within the family of God, "...that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness" (2 Cor 8:13-14). God provides for us that we might share with one another.
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. (Luke 19:5-6)
Up a tree. Another one of Luke's unique stories is about Zacchaeus, the short tax-collector who climbed a tree to get a glance of Jesus. What to me is so beautiful about this story is that Jesus knows and calls Zacchaeus by name, and even invites himself to his house for lunch! He says, "I must stay at your house today." Zacchaeus responds with exuberant and childlike faith: he received him joyfully, and promised to give half his riches to the poor, as well as restoring fourfold to anyone he defrauded. How quick and zealous was his response! It is clear that Jesus is the One doing the seeking: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (19:10).
Get down to business. The parable of the minas (19:12-27) highlights the truth that we as followers of Christ are to be fully engaged in serving him and his kingdom. There are no excuses. Our use of the talents and gifts God has given us is compared to doing business, trading, and making investments. We are called to be industrious, productive, and fruitful for the cause of Christ's kingdom. Not to do so -- for whatever reason we may come up with -- is simply to reveal our unbelief and laziness.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. A PDF copy is available here.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.