Monday, September 25, 2017

Just a little disobedience

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Exodus 16:17-36

"Gathering Manna" by James Tissot

“Notwithstanding, they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.” Exodus 16:20

When I read this part of Israel’s story I feel in very familiar territory. That’s because the book I wrote some years ago fictionalizes these very scenes. Today I’m going to share how I handled this manna episode in Destiny’s Hands.

A little set-up:
The character through whose eyes we see the action is Bezalel (the man who later became the chief artisan for the tabernacle and temple). He is a young man of 19 in our story, living with his family Grandfather Hur, father Uri (both Bible characters), mother Noemi and younger sister, 14-year-old Zamri (both fictional characters).

“Zamri, it’s time to get up. The sun is already warm and you still haven’t gone for the manna.” Noemi’s voice was urgent.

From behind the tent partition, Bezalel heard Zamri groan and mutter, “I don’t have to. I collected extra yesterday.”

A minute later, Bezalel heard his mother exclaim, “Oh no! This is

As he pulled on his tunic and tied his robe around him, Bezalel detected a smell of decay and rottenness. He went over to the basket of yesterday’s manna, looked inside, then drew back, repulsed. The food that had been deliciously edible the day before now stank and was crawling with maggots. It was disgusting.

Hur, hearing the fuss inside the tent, came in to see what it was about.

“It’s yesterday’s manna,” said Noemi. “Zamri collected extra without telling us. Today it smells and is full of worms.”

Zamri was up by now, fully awakened by everyone’s reaction to what she’d done.

“Didn’t you hear Moses’ command?” Hur asked. “We are to collect only enough for each day, no more.”

“My friends did it too,” said Zamri. “We wanted to sleep today.”

“Well, we’d better get out there now,” said Noemi. “The sun is already high in the sky. You know how the heat melts it.”

“I’ll help,” said Bezalel. He dumped the spoiled manna outside the
tent, but the odor lingered on the basket, so he left it outside and found another. Then he joined Noemi and the other manna-gatherers already sweating in the warm morning sun.


Shortly Uri came back from tending the animals and the family sat down to eat. After everyone was satisfied, Hur announced, “I’m going to the gathering place to watch Moses judge the people. Uri, Bezalel, I think you should join me.”

When they arrived at the area that served as the camp’s meeting place, it was indeed as Hur had said. The queue of people waiting to speak to Moses stretched through the center of the natural amphitheater and beyond, past several clusters of tents. The three found a spot with other onlookers where they could hear and watch the proceedings.

People came with a variety of matters.

One man complained that a neighbor was making advances toward his wife. Others brought charges of theft, trespass, and annoying, noisy neighbors. “My neighbor’s extra manna smells so terrible we can’t sleep,” said a man who had just reached Moses.

Aaron, who sat beside Moses and did most of the speaking, answered.“You bother Moses with a small matter like that? Just ask your neighbor to take it away…”

But Moses flashed Aaron a quick frown and broke in. “This may seem like a small matter, but it isn’t. Is your neighbor here?”

When the complainant pointed out the man, Moses spoke to him in a surprisingly harsh tone. “I told you—in fact, I made it very clear—that no one is to keep any of the manna until morning. What about that command do you not understand? Collect enough for one day and one day only.”

Looking around at the people gathered, Moses proclaimed to everyone, “People, listen to what God says and obey Him for a change. Why do you keep cutting corners and not doing exactly as He says?”

Bezalel was surprised at Moses’ reaction. Was disobedience in such a small thing that big of a problem? It seemed that Yahweh demanded compliance down to the last detail. He also felt a wave of relief. It was a good thing their day-old manna matter had been dealt with this morning and within their tent. But what about other things in which Moses judged the people?

Excerpts from Destiny’s Hands, pp. 96-100

PRAYER: Dear Father, may my obedience to You be an outworking of my  respect for Your wisdom in all things. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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