The Israelites were safe on the other side of the Red Sea. To show the people he was always with them God went with them in a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire during the night and neither pillar ever left its place in front of the people. During the day the pillar guided their journey. During the night it gave light and comfort if they felt scared.
Initially they were grateful. God had set them free from the cruelty of the Egyptians and was leading them through the wilderness back to their own land - the land they had lived in as a people in the times of Abraham and Joseph. He was with them.
But…it was hot…they were exhausted, hungry and thirsty and soon they started to grumble. So Moses tapped a rock with his rod as God told him to and water spilled out. In the early morning, after the dew had disappeared the ground was covered with white sweet flakes the people called Manna which means, ‘This tastes good whatever it is!’ With the manna God gave a special instruction: only collect what you need for that day for you and your family…and collect twice as much on Friday morning so that you can have your ‘rest day’ on Saturday. Of course, people being people found that a hard instruction to follow and some were worried that there would be no manna the next day. They kept some back but by morning it was full of horrible maggots and began to stink! Moses got cross with them. The only day they were allowed to keep some over was for their rest day on Saturday..it didn’t go off then.
So, with Moses as their leader, the people had water and food and knew God was with them.
I wonder….can you close your eyes and imagine what it must have been like for the Israelites? Walking across hot dry desert, drinking water from rocks and strange food? It wasn’t water from a well which they visited regularly or food they had bought or prepared. They had to trust God that it would turn up every morning and evening just as he said it would. They had to obey Moses who God gave instructions to. It was a whole new different way of living.
I wonder if some of you feel that at the moment it is a ‘whole new different way of living’? Yes, we can turn on the taps, mum or whoever is caring for you can give you something to eat…although it may be different at the moment. She may not be able to get you the usual things you eat.
Have you heard that some people have been panic buying? It is a normal reaction when people feel under threat but we aren’t really - there is food in our warehouses, we just have to be patient for it to reach the shops and only buy what we need…just like the Israelites were only to take what they needed.
We do not have a pillar of cloud or fire to see God is with us. But Jesus , God’s son, said “I am always with you” so we have to learn to trust…that can be hard…. but that is what FAITH is. Believing in something or someone you cannot see.
Thank you God that I do have things to eat and drink even if they are not the same as I am used to. Help me not to grumble or complain even when I feel sad or frightened. Help me to trust that you are always with me even though I cannot see you,