11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning, you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.'"
February 18, 2018
The church works year in and year out to inform people that God cares for them. Their work never ends. The church keeps saying, "God cares by doing lots of different things." For example, we just had a house torn down on the north side of the church to make room for additional parking. We want ample parking so people that choose to come here for worship will have the opportunity to hear us tell them that God cares so much about them. Also, by tearing down the house, we provide a better look at the cross displayed on the brick wall for people that drive south on North Rocky River Drive. We want to make every effort to tell people that God cares much about their wellbeing, their family, their health, their future. Yes, he does. We want them to see the cross that best communicates how much God cares about all of us.
God's care for his people is shown in how he dealt with the Israelites in today's Scripture. God shows great care for them despite their complaints. Their complaints, grumbling, and whining against Moses and Aaron seem to be so hurtful. Listen to their words:
3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." (Exodus 16:2-3)
They seem to show no concern for Moses and Aaron. Moses had been raised by Pharaoh's daughter. He started out living in the best quarters available in the big house, living and accepted by the royal family, had the opportunity to live the "life of Riley" or like a play boy. But he chose to identify with his people that were in slavery and rejected the easy life. He chose to do something about his people being in bondage. Yet they let him have it with both barrels.
Aaron had been personally drafted by God to be Moses' mouthpiece. You may recall that Moses had complained to God that he could not speak well. It was as if he was saying to God in no uncertain words: "I am not any good as a public speaker. And God had instructed him to take his brother, Aaron, to be his mouthpiece. Yet they let him have it too with both barrels.
Despite the people's grumbling, whining, and complaining about Moses and Aaron, God's representatives, God shows them much care:
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.'" (Exodus 16:11-12)
So, though the people are in the desert without food, God feeds them meat that very same evening. God provided quail. "A quail is a type of small bird which is often shot and eaten." (Dictionary definition) I can vouch that they are very good eating fowl when prepared by the right cooks. Also, the next morning God provided his people with bread. They didn't know what the bread was even though God had covered the desert floor with it during the night. It was called manna. There were certain restrictions on how they were to gather the food and how long they were to keep it. There is nothing about the cost of the quail and bread. There is nothing about the delivery cost. And by the way, Amazon and Meals on Wheels were not the first to make home deliveries. God did it for his people in the desert thousands of years ago. Without question, God cared so much for his people.
His care for them was not limited to their behavior and conduct. Their behavior and conduct seem to be awful. He fed them though they failed the test he gave them. He tested them to learn if they would obey his instructions about how much to gather, when to gather it, and what not to do with it. They failed. Yet he cared for them in a wonderful way.
His care for them was not limited despite their selfishness and self-centeredness. They seem to have been people that cared only about themselves. They didn't appear to care about Moses and Aaron or about all that God had done for them. It was as if they had completely forgotten that God had graciously brought them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea on dry ground, and supplied them water when they became thirsty in the desert. Their behavior seemed to have exemplified just their needs and desires and nothing or anyone else.
God cares so much about his people. That's the message the church continues to share with people. That's a message that is appropriate for all people. God cares so very much. He cares about us more than we will probably ever know or imagine.
That's one of the responsibilities of God preachers! It's to keep telling people that God cares so much for them. Just this past week, I met a contractor I had requested him to give us a price of during some work. He volunteered to inform me that he was the son of a Baptist preacher. Further, he informed me that he taught Sunday school. But that he had strayed from the church. He went on to tell me that he wants to return to the church. He made that statement as if it would be some type of problem for him to return and reboot his work in the church. I shared with him that God welcomes us back even when we back slide or wander away. He cares for us at all times. God wants the best for us even when our behavior and conduct are like that of the Israelites in the desert.
Preachers who have to bury innocent people who died a horrific death in Parkland, Florida must tell deeply hurt parents, grandparents and others that God cares so much for them despite the tragedy they have suffered. They may not comprehend how God could care for them when their loved ones have been killed in such a horrific way. But the Bible teaches us that God cares so much for us. God cares when no one else cares.
It's this understanding that many people take away from the parable about the Prodigal son. What makes that parable so compelling is that it is about the father who never turns away from his wayward son. The father in that parable accepts his son after he had run away and wasted his inheritance. But his father cares about him despite his wayward conduct and behavior. That's what God does for his people in this desert situation. He cares about them so deeply and so thoroughly.
So, I want you to know today that God cares much about you. He cares about you when you forget about him. He cares about you when you grumble, whine, complain, and misbehave. He cares about you to the extent that he still gives you what you need to keep living and having a quality life. He cares so much! Amen.