The Israelite community has evidence after evidence that they should thank God, and trust him. God has listened to their prayers and answered: he has sent them a saviour with unheard-of qualifications – he’s one of them, but was also brought up in the royal court. God has sent plague after plague of miraculous proportions, each demonstrating his sovereignty over one or another Egyptian ‘god’; finally he has shattered the Pharaoh’s resistance by killing every firstborn, except for those who took shelter under the protection he appointed – the blood of an innocent substitute. He has literally led them out of Egypt – his presence has been with them in a pillar of cloud by day or fire by night. And when Pharaoh and his formidable army chased them into the desert, he parted the sea to let the Israelites escape, and drowned their pursuers in the returning water.
And yet here we are in Exodus 16:1-15, barely days later, and the Israelites are complaining against their saviour, and wishing they had never been rescued. Wouldn’t it be better to still live in slavery? Didn’t the benefits outweigh the misery? Meat to eat plus genocide wins against starving in freedom.
The silly thing is that there was no need for all the angst; all they had to do was ask. Before Moses takes the problem to God, God takes the solution to Moses. God will provide the food they need; his rescue plan won’t fail.
It would be satisfying to think that we modern ‘Israelites’, followers of Jesus, would behave differently; we’d keep trusting God even if we faced starvation. But the Israelites are real people; and the truth is that even when things are pretty good – and let’s face it, most of us have it very good indeed, by world standards – we can usually find something to criticise. And sadly lots of Christians fall victim to the lie that God’s promise to ‘look after us’ means that he will ensure nothing unpleasant ever happens to us.
If things are tough, let’s not whinge; let’s instead ask God. What he expects from us is that we will hear his promises, see his strength and faithfulness, and trust him. God will do what is good.