August 8, 2021
Ephesians 4: 1-16
When I was thinking about the Scriptures you just heard today, I noticed that they are very aligned in their observation of human nature — which hasn’t much changed, it seems, over the past 2,000 years. We humans tend to get demanding, jealous and ungrateful, especially when stressed! Even when offered gifts, whether from God or our fellow human beings! (As a 4 on the Enneagram, for those of you who have studied it, I think I understand the jealousy or envy that comes when someone is exercising their gift and I’m not “as good as” or as gifted at that person. I may even understand the perfectionism that always notices what’s not there – or not good enough – and leads me to be ungrateful for what is).
The Israelites complain to Moses and Aaron, "if only we had died at the Lord’s hand in Egypt, where we sat around the fleshpots and had plenty of bread to eat! But you have brought us out into this wilderness to let this whole assembly starve to death!"
Instead of being grateful for Moses and Aaron’s leadership out of the oppression they suffered in Egypt, they complain they have no meat! Psalm 78 is a retelling of the story of Israel’s rebellion and complaints against God – told repeatedly, over and over again ad nauseum! It says God was filled with fury and his “anger blazed up against Israel because they put no trust in God…” In the psalm (if you read further than today’s reading), God is repeatedly angered by the people who are in rebellion against him. But God turns around again and again, and, like a human father with his complaining children, then acts with benevolence toward his spoiled offspring, granting them what they are demanding — “meat and sweets,” all for free. They said the manna was like a honey wafer. I probably would have told the people, “Eat prickly cacti – there’s plenty of that where you are there in the wilderness.” I guess God really wanted the children of Israel to survive — so the compassionate side of God, the merciful, forgiving side won out.