Today’s passage continues the recounting of God’s faithfulness by reminding “future” generations of Israelites of the Exodus, the time of wilderness wandering, and the entry into the land of promise.
Moses and Aaron, God’s servants, confronted the pharaoh of Egypt, asking that he free the Israelite people. Pharaoh agreed as the last of the ten plagues against the Egyptians came to fruition. Pharaoh and his people feared that even worse disasters would befall them so they were glad to see the backs of their former slaves. And the Israelites do not leave empty-handed.
These verses reveal a tender, compassionate God who protects and leads the Israelites in the wilderness, providing quail and manna from heaven in abundance and water from a rock.
On their wilderness journey the Israelites experience God’s presence through cloud and fire. They find themselves sustained in the desert wandering through God’s provision. Despite the difficult circumstances of wilderness life, God’s presence and sustenance make even the desert a place where life springs forth: “He remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing.” God remembers and leads the people through the wilderness, upholding them with steadfast love. The people are to obey the law not from a fear of punishment but out of gratitude and fidelity for what God has already done.
We too find ourselves sustained by God’s presence and provision in times of wilderness wandering. We can easily stumble in our spiritual journey toward the land of promise unless we strive for radical trust and joyful obedience. Thanks be to God!

Covenant-keeping God, we thank you for remembering your servant Abraham and for leading us all to a land of promise. Thank you for your presence and provision. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 20:1-16

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Lectionary Week
September 18–24, 2017
Scripture Overview

The reading from Exodus 16 concerns Israel’s primary memory of food given in the wilderness, given where there are no visible sources of life, given in the face of restless protest, given wondrously and saving Israel from both hunger and despair. The verses from Psalm 105 recall the marvel of God’s grace during the wilderness years and the people’s joyful response. In the Philippians text Paul wrestles with the question of God’s will with respect to his own leadership. Paul not only explains the meaning of his incarceration but goes beyond that to explain the meaning of his life: “Living is Christ and dying is gain.” Matthew 20 reminds the reader that in the kingdom of heaven God’s mercy is often surprising, even offensive. People are valued not because of their economic productivity but because God loves and engages them.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Exodus 16:2-15. What experiences have strengthened your trust in God?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45. Spend a moment recounting God’s faithfulness to you in the past. Does recalling those times encourage your obedience to God today?
• Read Philippians 1:21-30. Paul acknowledges the importance of his physical presence to the Philippians. Whose physical presence makes a difference in your life?
• Read Matthew 20:1-16. What situations in your life make you question God’s fairness? When have you been envious because of God’s blessing of another?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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