What I’m Thinking: Unrecognizable Bread

When manna first appeared, the people escaping from Egypt didn’t recognize it as bread – even though that was what they had asked for.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the sixteenth chapter of Exodus (Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15), the introduction to the Israelites, and for that matter to us some millennia later, the introduction of manna.

The story has a familiar beginning, at least to readers of Exodus. The people of Israel have a complaint. They bring it to Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron bring it to God. God responds. Everybody’s happy.

All right. Maybe not happy.

The thing about these complaints is that every last one of them is legitimate. At Massah and Meribah the Hebrew people noted that they needed water in order to survive. In this instance they point out that they need food in order to survive. The complaints are about the very real and deep needs of the people. In each case, God responds. The people survive.

The other curious thing about this story, though: the people have asked for meat and for bread (the lectionary limits to this passage do not include the reference to the gift of quails, the source of meat), but the gift of the bread… When the people arise in the morning, they find this strange flaky substance around and about on the ground, and they don’t know what it is. They didn’t recognize it as bread.

This, I think, is something of a model or an indicator or a type for us in our lives of faith, that is, when we go to God with our deep needs and God responds, God’s response may not look like what we were expecting. God’s response may not be something that we recognize.

What God’s response will do is to feed us, to fill us, to satisfy us, to get us through the day and on into the next. That’s what I call manna.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on July 26, 2021

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