Read Exodus 16:1-5
1 Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt.2 There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.
3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.” (NLT)
How tempting it is to indulge in a bit of nostalgia and remember the ‘good old days’. While we may have valid fond memories of such times, it is dangerous to assume things were always better in those days.
The freed Israelites were complaining about how hard things were in the wilderness. And already some ‘romanticising’ has entered their thinking. Their previous suffering as slaves in Egypt had been forgotten and the few ‘fringe benefits’ were exaggerated. If we are going through hard times, it is so easy to think back to how much better things seemed to be in the past. Which may or may not be true.
In any case, God promises to provide for the Israelites by providing a miraculous source of food for them. That provision also involves a test. The gathering and consumption of that food will have some conditions attached. God’s gracious provision doesn’t mean they can do what they like with it.
If our minds are set on how good it was in the past, we are not only guilty of misrepresenting that past, but we may blind ourselves to what God is doing in the present. And we may not respond to what he is doing in the right way. Which is what did happen to these Israelites a bit later.
The good old days might have been good in their own way, but let’s not ignore the likelihood of good new days as well.