By Kristen Gunn
A Reading from Exodus 16:10-22
10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’” 17 The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers apiece.
Exodus 16 is the first place where the phrase “the glory of the Lord” occurs in Scripture. Very early on, Christians like Justin Martyr recognized the glory that appeared to the Israelites here — that same glory that settled on Sinai at the giving of the tablets and that filled the tabernacle when it was finished — to be the Word and Son of God. What amazes me especially about today’s reading is that “the glory of the Lord” should appear for the first time in connection with the manna.
“In the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God” (16:12). Our God, it would seem, wants to be known and recognized not only in his manifest glory but also in his provision, even mysterious provision. Even provision that makes us ask, “What is it?” It is both love and love’s pedagogy. And sometimes (or is it all the time?) it asks questions back to us. Questions like, “Will you love me by keeping my commandments?”
Some years later, at dinner with the Twelve he chose and called out of the world, Jesus — the glory of the Lord as a living human being — tells the Israel seated at table around him, “You are my friends if you do what I command you,” and “I have called you friends” (John 15:14, 15b).
He has shown us the way. Not just to the table and to pilgrims’ bread, but to true rest and to the Father.
Kristen Gunn is a student at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, where she is happily plucking away at an M.T.S. She has a B.A. in religion and linguistics, and loves dancing in the patristics section of the library when she thinks she is alone.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Lainya – The Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan
The Diocese of Iowa