Updated: Oct 13, 2022
As God leads the Israelites through the wilderness, they continue to grumble. God still graciously provides them with manna in the morning and quail in the evening, along with instructions on how to gather the food He has provided.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’” 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 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.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that my parents were borderline hoarders. They were far from the extreme kind we see on reality TV, but I’d consider them hoarders, nonetheless. Their basement storage room boasted wall-to-wall shelving filled with old household items ranging from kitchen gadgets, an overflow of bowls, plates and utensils, gently worn linens, decorations that had outlived their glory days, unused gifts, and all sorts of odds and ends. They were neatly stacked and lined in organized fashion covering every corner of those shelves.
I would always say to them that if they hadn’t used something in six months, they were never going to use it and they might as well donate it to those in need. They retorted the same reply every time – one never knows when one might need it. My parents’ generation came of age during the Korean War and lived through a time where many experienced loss, hunger, and scarcity. Many of the things that we take for granted today were considered luxuries to them back then. Knowing this about my parents helps me understand why they were so unwilling to part with their possessions. It gave them a sense of security.
In today’s passage, God meets the Israelites’ needs with provisions of manna in the morning and quail in the evening. His provisions come with instructions, however – they were to gather only as much as they needed for that day. We learn that “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.” They were not to hoard or store up extra for the next day. This was God’s way of teaching the Israelites to depend on Him daily. He knew they were in for a long journey ahead in the wilderness, and it was essential that they learn to rely on God for all their needs.
To be honest, I’m not that confident that my generation or even younger generations are free from the hoarding tendencies of our parents. Perhaps we’re less unwilling to part with old household items, but we’re still in the business of accumulating. Some of us accumulate
degrees and skills so we feel more secure about our career prospects and job opportunities,
while others of us accumulate followers and likes on social media to boost our sense of self-
worth. Many of us spend much of our energy accumulating wealth in hopes of retiring early or retiring comfortably. I’m the first to admit that I find myself checking on our savings more often these days, wondering if we will have enough to put our girls through college and for retirement. And just recently, the pandemic had us hoarding toilet paper! In a world where many of us have an overabundance of skills, knowledge, food, and material possessions, we have forgotten what it means to depend on God daily.
We hoard because having more than we need gives us a false sense of security. It gives us
confidence that we’ll have enough to survive a rainy day or a rainy season for that matter. This is not to discredit the importance of godly stewardship and how we are to use and grow God’s blessings and gifting for His glory. But we often forget that what the Lord gives, he can just as easily take away according to His sovereign purpose. It’s important to ask ourselves where we are ultimately placing our trust, on the things of this world or on God, who truly is the source and provider of all good things.
Lord, I echo David’s sentiments when he says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” Remind me often that you are a generous Father who knows and provides just what I need, when I need it. Teach me to depend on you alone day in and day out. Thank you that in you, I can find true security. Amen.