Worms and Decay
And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. Exodus 16:19-20
At a youth church conference in high school, I heard a young woman lament her repetitive destructive behavior. Every Saturday night, she would go out drinking and partying, and then on Sunday morning, she would hate herself for what she had done. In the arrogance of my own small defects, I condescendingly thought, Just stop going out on Saturday night. What’s wrong with you?
Likewise, when I read of the Israelites in today’s passage, I think the same thing. What’s wrong with you? Without food or water, wandering in the wilderness, God repeatedly and miraculously provided for them, but still, they disobeyed. Manna, food sent miraculously from heaven, just showed up every morning on the ground, but came with this specific instruction: Do not keep more than you need for one day.
This arbitrary condition had a clear purpose that perhaps only God and Moses knew: I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not (Exodus 16:5). God did this to teach the Israelites to obey Him. When they disobeyed and kept some until the next day, they found that it bred worms and stank.
Disobedience always has a price. Sometimes it is immediately obvious and sometimes the rot of our corruption is not apparent until months or years later, when the worms devour our families, careers and relationships. We will find that God is always forgiving, but this does not mean that we escape the earthly consequences of deliberately disobeying Him.
Not all of our pain is self-inflicted but if we find God distant, we must ask what our part in the distance is. When we know what it is that God wants us to do – or not do – and we do the opposite, we always breed worms and decay. Thankfully, the opposite is true as well. In following God, He draws near to us, growing life instead of death.