Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.
— Exodus 16:18
There’s an old saying: “You can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” Likewise for the people of Israel, it seemed. Though they were now freed from slavery, they complained of being hungry in the desert. They grumbled that at least they had plenty of food back in Egypt.
And how did God respond? In his mercy, God provided the gift of daily bread. This was a lesson in providence to teach the people that they could trust God to care for them. God even invited them to trust him enough so that they could take a weekly day off. The Sabbath was a day to set aside toil and labor and to turn one’s mind to rest, worship, and community.
Sabbath-keeping became the basis for a whole new way of thinking about life. The pattern of a weekly day of rest later expanded to include a Sabbath year every seven years, when the land could also take a rest and debts could be forgiven. Then Sabbath years were extended so that after seven times seven (49) years there would also be a Year of Jubilee, when slaves were released, debts were forgiven, and land was returned to its original owners (Leviticus 25). These practices were meant to protect people from poverty and to show other nations that God’s people could depend on him. It all has to do with trusting God and living God’s way.
God of abundance, you still provide our daily bread. Receive our thanks and teach us and others that we can trust in you. Amen.