Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Bible and Economics

Fungus Flower by paynehollow
Fungus Flower, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

Part of an ongoing series looking at all the many passages in the Bible that deal with wealth and poverty issues. You can see the links to the other passages in the series under the heading "The Bible and Economics" below.

Today, I'm looking at Exodus 16, which is the passage that tells about the children of Israel being provided heavenly manna to eat to keep them alive while roaming through the wilderness. The Israelites had just escaped slavery in Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, but they found themselves without enough food to survive. They soon started complaining...

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

God saves them by providing manna and quail from heaven...

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.

In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days...”

The LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.

When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

NOTE: "Manna" sounds like the Hebrew term for "What is it?"

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need...

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell...

The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

This story is especially significant because it establishes some principles that are echoed throughout the Bible:

Just take what you need;

Don't try to take more than you need - it will only rot;

In this economy of Enough, those who collect much have enough and no more, and those who collect little have enough and no more;

Observe the Sabbath - a day of rest from storing up your "enough."


John Farrier said...

No answer?

I notice a pattern: when I corner you, you stop answering. Honestly, Dan, it's like you prefer to deal with commenters who insult you than those who respectfully attack your logic.

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Marshall Art said...

You err greatly in pretending that what a man works for is the same as what God provided the Israelites while wandering the desert. It is not. We say that God provides everything, even what we work hard to earn. But that is not the same as the situation in your excerpt. Not even close.