That We May Know the Lord
As you know, Beth and I are in the midst of raising our first child, and being in this position invites an endless wave of advice. Some of the advice is good, and some of it does not align with what we want to do as parents. That is fine because parents are different and children are different, there is more than one way to raise a child, and who knows what will be useful and what will not. Well, as I read this passage, I was reminded of a particular kind of advice which takes different forms: Do not give into your children when they whine, or it will just teach them that they can get what they want by whining. It is a fair bit of advice, and one which we try to use in different ways.
It is curious that God does not seem to know this trick. Here the Israelites are in the wilderness, just having finished celebrating God’s deliverance of them from Egypt, and they start complaining that things were better in Egypt. Back there, they could eat as much as they wanted whenever they wanted. For all of God’s work to save them, he has not done a very good job in the opinion of the Israelites. You would think that God’s response would be to smite the people, to display his power as a sign of what ungratefulness and disparaging his character gets for them. God is not above that sort of response; but here he gives them both meat and bread out of his own goodness.
What are we to take from God’s response in this instance? In our last bulletin article, we saw how it is part of God’s nature to give, and that is on display here as well. We might take from this just how good God is to us even when we do not deserve it. However, what might be most appropriate to understand here is that God will use whatever means at his disposal to let us know that he is the Lord our God (16:12). God wants his people to know him, and sometimes that means discipline and sometimes it means lavishing more of his goodness upon him. We never may know or understand God’s mysterious ways, but we can know that regardless of our actions, God really does want to be joined with us in covenant relationship. That is why he went so far as to send Jesus Christ, the Son, to die for our sins. Hopefully, we will come to our senses and turn back to God in love and gratitude for the wonderful kindness which he has shown to us. -TL