I can never read through the “manna” portion of Exodus without thinking about this song by Keith Green:
Keith Green was my favorite contemporary Christian musician when I was young. I still have a couple of his records (yes, I’m that old). I remember vividly the concert I went to at McCaskey High School where he gave his records away if you couldn’t afford them. I remember where I was when I found out he had died in a plane crash. If you want to read a fascinating biography, read the book written by his wife: No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green. So inspiring. So challenging.
But back to Exodus. We’re so prone to be hard on the people in the Bible when they do stupid things. How could they long to go back to Egypt, the land of their slavery? Why couldn’t they follow directions and just do what they were supposed to do? How hard could it be to trust God when you’ve just been through all the events of the last couple of chapters–the plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the provision of manna? We always think that we would have done better. And most of the time, we’re wrong. These stories of the Israelites wandering in the desert are good reminders that people struggle with the same sins across the centuries, and great reassurances that we serve a God who is a patient teacher, slow to anger, abounding in love.
*Sometimes we can lose sight of the fact that we are reading about actual places that exist today. When the Israelites left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea and wandered around in the wilderness all those years, they were wandering in the Sinai Peninsula, which you can see on the map here. It’s the pink area to the east of Egypt and to the west of Saudi Arabia. Israel (the promised land of Canaan) is right above it in orange. There’s another map here showing the probable path they took.