Grace: God’s sustaining grace – 17 November 2022
By Louise Gevers
Surely, as we pause to ponder these amazing words today, we realise what a beautiful testimony they are to God’s love and grace to us, too, which can apply to people everywhere, not only the Israelites at that time.
Matthew Henry defines grace as, “the free, underserved goodness and favour of God to mankind” and this is a prime example. Moses recaps how, in forty years in the desert, God has provided, and the Israelites have wanted for nothing. God’s grace sustained them each step of the way: “The Israelites ate manna forty years… until they reached the border of Canaan” (Exodus 16:35) and, from then, would be able to sustain themselves.
God had a plan for this small group of people He’d chosen for his own; He loved them but they didn’t know, or love, him at that time; they were still trusting their own instincts, looking back to the charm and plenty of Egypt, forgetting that it was the land of bondage where they had been slaves, not masters of their own life; they would be again, if they returned. God had freed them at no small cost.
God planned to instruct them in His ways, and test them, “to prove the genuineness of (their) faith” (1 Peter 1:7) to equip them to live, not as slaves to another master, but as his chosen people who would bring him honour in the Promised Land. It was vital for them to listen, to be obedient to his every instruction, if they didn’t want to go hungry on the Sabbath, or have smelly, wormy bread any other day – because they’d taken more than they needed.
But discipline wasn’t easy; the Israelites continued to grumble, ignore instructions and suffer the consequences of their unwillingness to put aside their proud wilfulness. Isn’t that what our sin is all about?
Yet, in all the time of trial and testing, God didn’t abandon them, but provided them daily with water, manna and quails, and his grace sustained them even when they were ungrateful, and grumbled against him.
He remained faithful to his first promise to Moses to, “rain down bread from heaven for (them)”(Exodus 16:4) along with his faithful instruction, “to teach (them) that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3) something Jesus, the Bread of Heaven, used so powerfully against the devil when He was in the wilderness.
When we look back on our own life, battling through very difficult times in “our own” wilderness, hasn’t God always provided and brought us through? For those who follow Jesus, how great it is to willingly feed on His instruction and grow closer to Him each day.
Prayer: “You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.” (Psalm 119:57-58, 66) Amen