Redemption: the currency God uses to restore broken things.
This redemption story of Jesus’ arrival finds me marveled at his knack for restoration. I’m reminded of where our story fits into his. What we cheapened with sin, he restores with his love. From the fall with Adam and Eve, Noah building the ark, and the Israelites’ rebellion, God has been restoring his perfect plan. When Adam and Eve sinned, God gave them new clothes rather than the leaves they tried to cover up with. Though the earth mocked God’s perfection with its sin, God kept Noah and his family safe so His plans to restore the earth would flourish. God still made a way out of the wilderness for the Israelites when they complained their journey out. And when this wasn’t enough, Jesus came to restore us back to relationship with God the Father. What we mess up, God has plans to fix.
In my own reading of the She Reads Truth Advent study, I read Exodus 16:1-12 and John 6:22-40 together, and in a brand new way. God showed me how he uses bread both to satisfy hunger and save his people forever.
I challenge you to thoroughly read these verses, even if it means reading in more than one sitting. Allow God to speak to you about who he is.
The Israelites’ rebellion makes Jesus’ redemption a little sweeter. This was a group of people that complained their way through God’s provision and liberation. And yet God saw that they needed another way closer to him.
Verse two explains that the Israelites “grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” After God has freed and delivered them from bondage under the leadership of Moses, they groan, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full…”
Haven’t we all been here? These Israelites were complaining, even to the point of wanting their bondage back just so they could have their temporary fill of food. I know, they were truly hungry. But how often does our focus dwindle to what’s right in front of us? How often do we fail to look at what God is doing in the grand scheme of our journey that we start wishing we had it our messy way instead?
I am so glad God doesn’t answer our wishes like that. If they only knew that he would deliver mankind much different than merely filling them with the food they wanted.
And even in their complaining, God sends bread from heaven. Bread was exactly what they needed at the time. God saw they were hungry and he sent food.
Fast forward to the New Testament when Jesus is teaching in John 6:22-40. In verses 32-15 Jesus refers to this very segment in Exodus:
Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
God saw the hunger of his people again and provided Jesus, who is the true bread of life. You could say that the bread from heaven to the Israelites was a foreshadowing of what God would do again for his desperate people–for us! God provided Jesus, who is our everlasting fill of life. We no longer have to reach for unsatisfying food that perishes, but we can reach for Jesus to sustain our hearts. He redeemed his people with Jesus; when we abide in him, we never need anything else. This closeness to God through Jesus is his gift to us.
My prayer is that we recognize Jesus this Christmas. I want to recognize his redemption in my personal life and to his people across generations of failing, complaining, and bondage. He still desires to be our fulfillment even in our trivial complaining.
God always uses mistakes for the beauty of his best plan; he’s always restoring us back to closeness with him. Because of his faithful restoration again and again, we can trust him with the next steps.
I’m thankful for this side of history, where I can remember that Jesus came for us to meet our heart’s deepest cry.
Jesus, Help me to look for you today. Help me to see you, even when I’m tempted to complain. Thank you that you see me and you hear me amidst those temptations. Thank you for your restoration, and thank you for making it possible to be fulfilled by you today.