They Despised the Pleasant Land

A devotion on 77:25-47

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Many claim that Christianity is for the unthinking. I think that our devotions this week have proved just the opposite. Repeatedly, scripture has stressed the need to constantly engage multiple brain processes such as alertness, focus, contemplation, memory, consideration, analysis, judgement, etc. We thus understand God’s mandate to us to love him with all our mind. Mt. 22:37.

25 Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.

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Jesus Christ is the bread of life. He has been provided for us to satisfy our spiritual hunger the way bread satisfies the bellies of men, women, and children around the world. Think of sourdough, roti, tortillas, French bread, focaccia, chapati – bread, bread, bread – it is the stuff of life! The provision of manna was a powerful symbol of Christ and his work on and after the cross.

“Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die.

“Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.”

(John 6:32, 33, 47-50, 27.)

In his faithful provision, God has given us “all the food we can eat.” Satisfaction is found in no one else and in nothing else. He alone is sufficient. He alone is nutritious. No good thing does he withhold from us.

26 He let loose the east wind from the heavens and by his power made the south wind blow.

27 He rained meat down on them like dust, birds like sand on the seashore.

28 He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents.

God directs the various winds and their directions in the care of his children. Just like he parted the Red Sea, he effortlessly employs his supernatural power to accomplish his will in the universe. He specifically and strategically drives and controls natural forces from wherever they may be to exactly where he wants them to be. These are the wonders he has always performed and continues to perform, to this day. Moreover, he is capable of doing these things in abundance. That is why he is called the God of hosts – meat like dust, birds like sand on the seashore – count that! Our God is mighty indeed.

29 They ate till they were gorged— he had given them what they craved.

Satisfaction and contentment are a mindset. We choose to be satisfied and content. We can eat until we are gorged and still be unsatisfied. That depends in part on our diet. We can eat junk food till we vomit. It will never satisfy. Or we can have a small nutritious meal and be satisfied for hours.

Moreover, our stomachs are connected to our brains through our nervous system. They have sensors that alert the brain when we’ve had enough to eat so that we can stop eating. The majority of people have long over-ridden their satiety centers so that the brain no longer recognizes that we have had enough. Instead, we eat till our stomachs are completely stuffed and can take no more. We even say, “I am full.” Nutritionally, no one needs to eat until they are full, yet is is acceptable culturally because collectively, we live to eat, not eat to live.

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Sometimes God will answer our pining prayers for earthly things that please our fat souls. He will allow us to experience the consequence of empty calories that we insist on indulging in. This can be a person, an experience, a house, a position or anything else we pursue we selfish purposes. We think, “Yeah, I want God and that.”

30 But before they turned from what they craved, even while the food was still in their mouths,

31 God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them,

    cutting down the young men of Israel.

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Jealousy is a contemptible trait. But did you know that in its rightful place it is a godly trait? Did you know that one of God’s numerous names is Jealous?

“For thou shalt worship no other God; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

Exodus 34:14.

Only as we align our will with his will, our affections with his affections, our mind with his mind, our passions with his passions, our emotions with his emotions, our desires with his desires will we find satisfaction. That is how he wired us. Because his name is Jealous, we short-circuit when we seek any of those things outside of him first. When we seek and see his power and his glory, only then shall our soul be satisfied as with a sumptuous meal. Is your soul hungry today? Is it anemic? Is it emaciated? Then follow this recipe and find joy for your soul.

“My soul shall be satisfied as with as with the richest foods,”

Ps. 63:5a.

Paul said, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” In 2 Cor. 11:2. Do not prostitute yourself to other lovers that entice you. Get off Delilah’s murderous albeit voluptuous lap!

32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.

Your faith is a gift. Belief is a phenomenal blessing. Jesus said to Thomas, “blessed is he who believes without seeing.” John 20:29. Seeing amazing miracles and wonders spawns a shallow flesh-based faith. It scintillates the senses and the soul, and its pursuit can become an idol. Repeatedly in scripture, we see people who experienced God’s wonders, yet they did not believe. May we be counted among those who believe even when we have not seen. We know and trust our God so much that even when we can not “feel” him, we “know” that he is and that he rewards those that diligently seek him.

To continue in sin is a foolish matter. Our Christian life is an lifetime of learning to train our soul. The most powerful tool to that end has just two letters. It is the word NO. Practice saying that to your indulgent soul for your own sake.

“The grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions.”

Titus 2:11

33 So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror.

34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again.

35 They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.

36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues;

37 their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.

Our flesh does what our soul tells it to do. In this scenario, the tongue is flattering God and lying to him, pledging faithfulness. It is driven by the heart (the soul) which, in this case, is disloyal. Its desires and passions lay elsewhere. The end result of this life is futility and terror.

38 Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them.

Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.

39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.

What a merciful Father! He loves his people so much that he continuously gives us a thousand chances to make things right with him. He pursues and welcomes us back even when we have been an unfaithful spouse to him. He is crazy about us. If he vented his full wrath, none of us would exist today. His mercy drives us to repentance. His grace and kindness keep us there. May we never forget for a minute that he is faithful and may we ever praise him.

40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the wasteland!

41 Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.

42 They did not remember his power— the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,

43 the day he displayed his signs in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan.

44 He turned their river into blood; they could not drink from their streams.

45 He sent swarms of flies that devoured them, and frogs that devastated them.

46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper, their produce to the locust.

47 He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamore-figs with sleet.

48 He gave over their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning.

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