This month, our series journeys through the story of Moses and the Israelites in Egypt. Through this story, we will explore several elements of creation.

With the imagery of the fire of the burning bush, death in the plagues, and the dramatic wind, sky, and sea at the crossing of the Red Sea, we conclude this part of the story with the Israelite’s cry for food in the wilderness.

Exodus 16:2-15
2The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. 3The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”

4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction. 5On the sixth day, when they measure out what they have collected, it will be twice as much as they collected on other days.” 6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 7And in the morning you will see the Lord’s glorious presence, because your complaints against the Lord have been heard. Who are we? Why blame us?” 8Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning because the Lord heard the complaints you made against him. Who are we? Your complaints aren’t against us but against the Lord.”

9Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole Israelite community, ‘Come near to the Lord, because he’s heard your complaints.’” 10As Aaron spoke to the whole Israelite community, they turned to look toward the desert, and just then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

11The Lord spoke to Moses, 12“I’ve heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat. And in the morning you will have your fill of bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13In the evening a flock of quail flew down and covered the camp. And in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the desert surface were thin flakes, as thin as frost on the ground. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” They didn’t know what it was.

Moses said to them, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

Consider these questions:

  1. In your reading, why do you think the people are complaining? What do you see as the root cause?
  2. How do the religious leaders (Moses and Aaron) respond?
  3. How does God respond?
  4. Are these responses the same? Different? How?

Post=sermon update on 9/25

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found by clicking this link (will open in a new tab).

Sunday’s sermon took a brief journey through the idea of hangry, a concept I quantify in a particular way as noted in the opening of the message. With this understanding of “hangry,” is it possible to understand the Israelites and their complaining through a generous lens? Consider the questions above again: How do Moses and Aaron respond and how does God respond?

I find it both funny and profound that this reading from our Revised Common Lectionary centers on food when so much conversation in our community has been on the same subject. A local news crew was dispatched to PB UMC last week in get our response to a local resident’s petition seeking to close down community meals provided by churches. The story can be found here. We responded on our website with a list of the full services available here at the church in addition to the meal, including our response to the Hepatitis A outbreak. That post can be found here.

When the Israelites are hungry, God responds. When Jesus is gathered with 5,000 followers, he and his disciples respond.

Consider these questions:

  1. What do you think is important about God’s response to the Israelites’ hunger? How does this influence your own response when you see people who are hungry?
  2. What other scriptures or experiences of God influence your response?
  3. Do you think responding to physical hunger is enough? What about spiritual hunger?