November 12, 2018
“So the Israelites did this. Some gathered a lot, some a little. When they measured it by quarts, the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat.” Exodus 16:17-18 (CSB)
Every single one of them is astounding, shocking and overwhelming. Have you ever experienced one? An instance when God suspended the regular way the universe functions to interject His activity?
Goodness gracious, I have.
I wish we were meeting face-to-face right now so we could share our experiences (and some chocolate) with each other. What a conversation that would be — recounting God’s unusual activity in our lives. Actually, that’s a good definition for a miracle we can hang on to together: Miracles are, by nature, unusual. They’re unnatural occurrences that can only be accredited to the Divine.
If you can’t put your finger on very many in your life, and if, like me, you’d love to have as many of them as God will graciously allow, I’ve got good news for you: Implementing Sabbath margin is one of the best places to begin.
Turns out, the Sabbath is a breeding ground for miracles.
Exodus 16 records an unusual and subtle little miracle. In the desert when the Israelites gathered their fresh, new-every-morning manna, the Bible explains “some gathered a lot, some a little.” But “when they measured it by quarts, the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage” (vv. 17-18). Like multiplying the loaves and fish (see Matthew 14:13-21), God made everyone’s gathered manna just right for their need.
But on the sixth day when they returned from their morning manna ritual, they found they’d “gathered twice as much food, four quarts apiece” (Exodus 16:22b, CSB) — which would have been reasonable and understandable had the people spent twice as much time hunched over the desert sand laced with heaven’s cornflakes that morning.
Twice as much gathered for twice as much work. That makes sense, but that’s not what happened. Each person, having spent just as much time and effort as normal, had raked in twice the result.
The people’s leaders, shocked to see the robust bounty of their work, frantically reported to Moses the surprising outcome. But really, they shouldn’t have been stunned at all. Can’t you just picture Moses staring at them blankly, shaking his head and sighing as he replied, “This is what GOD was talking about …” (v. 23b, MSG).
Indeed, this is exactly what Yahweh already said He would do for them. As they honored the seventh-day margin, God gave a double provision on the sixth day in order to sustain the Israelites. And they wouldn’t have to work overtime to reap it.
God repeats this miracle of provision over and over in history and in the experience of His children even today. When we obey the Spirit’s conviction — resisting the gnawing sense of guilt or compulsion to keep pressing beyond the boundaries, beyond that which honors God — He will bless our obedience and sustain us. He will miraculously give twice the harvest, twice the fulfillment, twice the return, even though we haven’t done anything more to garner it.
Double portions always are.
But sadly, I’ve often been unable to relish God’s double-portion miracle for me. And I think you probably know the feeling. Because believing that doing less can somehow produce more requires a resilient faith. It takes an unshakable concrete trust in God — the kind that won’t topple even in an earthquake of doubt — to maintain the confidence that allows you to stop, even when everything in you and around you says keep going. Keep pushing. Keep gathering. Keep persisting.
That’s hard for us to stop, just like it was for the Israelites. They decided to hoard God’s provision, just in case this Sabbath thing didn’t work the way they planned.
We aren’t told if they actually gathered more than what they needed, or if they deprived themselves in order to stretch what they had. Either way, they sought to store up manna beyond what Yahweh permitted. And the results were universally bad … and smelly.
God wanted the Israelites to trust in Him, not in their abilities to provide for themselves. He wanted to give them a double-portion miracle, so they could see what it felt like.
He wants to do the same for you and me.
Dear Lord, help me not to miss seeing You do what You do best: be God. Empower me to honor the foundation that supports a double-portion miracle — the Sabbath. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (CSB)
Do you ever feel like the revolving door of schedules and commitments keeps you from living the life God has for you — a life full of peace, contentment and joy? We hope you’ll join us for our next Online Bible Study, Breathe: Making Room for Sabbath Rest, by Priscilla Shirer. Join us on a journey to discovering what it means to rest as God intended. The four-week study kicks off TODAY. Sign up now for free!
You can connect with Priscilla through all her social media outlets, here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Recall a time when you implemented margin in your life despite a concern that there was still more to be accomplished. Did you see a “double portion” of God’s blessing? Share your story in the comments section.
© 2018 by Priscilla Shirer. All rights reserved.