March 9, 2010

March 9: Renewed covenants

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By Hannah D. Miller, a senior peace, justice and conflict studies major from Scottdale, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Joshua 5:9-12 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
God certainly provides for us in many situations. The Israelites are one of the best examples of God’s provision in the Bible. Although they had been wandering in the desert for many years without a home, God gave them manna to eat and hope for the future. This passage in Joshua begins with the statement that Israel has been reconciled to God – that the “disgrace of Egypt” has been rolled away. At Gilgal, the Israelites celebrate the Passover, a reminder that God has protected them from death and despair and has made God’s love and grace known to them.

After the Passover is celebrated, once again reminding the Israelites of God’s faithfulness, the manna disappears, marking the end of wandering for the Israelites. Even though the Israelites began to eat the produce from the land and manna stopped coming, it did not mean that God ceased to provide for the Israelites. God’s provision instead came from the routine work of the land. The Israelites ate from the bounty of the earth, a part of God’s perfect creation. So while they had to let go of the miraculous food provision of manna that God had provided through the years of wandering uncertainty, they held on to God’s continued protection.

This passage speaks of new times and a chance for new beginnings. God has taken away our disgrace! The time of Lent reminds us that God provides in many different circumstances, and God’s provision can be found not only through miracles and the mundane, but also through renewed covenants with God, creation and each other.

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SCRIPTURE: Joshua 5:9-12 (NRSV)
The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.’ And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the Israelites were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

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Comments (11)

  1. I was a little under whellmed by this verse. Not much happening. But as I sat with it, I thought about the word “manna”. and what it evoked – the direct presence and care of God. The emotion that came to me was the sense of grief and loss as the Israelites lost the care of the manna – like a baby leaving the womb, I felt the sense of transistion, that is necessary, and even essential for your growth and survival, but is still sad, and I don’t want to do it! Finally the message for me seemed to be that, even as God seems to move away from direct involvement in our lives and care, God is still there for us, ready for us to call. ANd that it is necessary for our spiritual growth. Peace!

    Beth March 9, 2010 |
  2. Thanks for reminding of us God’s desire to be in relationship with us by nurturing us with food, words, the gift of creation and humanity. It becomes our responsibility /opportunity to care for and share these wonderful gifts.

    John H. Denlinger March 9, 2010 |
  3. This scripture said “today” that stuck out to me. A shift a new thing. God rules. He is in control.Thank you for sharing.I agree with how you see God in the last paragraph.

    Jennifer Stutzman March 9, 2010 |
  4. God’s provision is just right for where we are in life. Our needs are always anticipated by our heavenly parent. Thanks for your thoughts, Hannah.

    Ruth March 9, 2010 |
  5. You encouraged me today. The Mennonite Church will survive as long as we have students who think and are committed like you who write in this column. Thank You!

    Mary K. Mishler March 9, 2010 |
  6. What a wonderful thought. God takes away our disgrace and renews our hope for our future – even providing place and provision.

    Thank you for this thought.

    ed March 9, 2010 |
  7. Uh… what was the “disgrace of Egypt?” Were the Israelites guilty of turning away from God between the time of Joseph and the beginning of slavery? That would fit the pattern of their behavior throughout their history.

    Shawn March 9, 2010 |
  8. Like the first commenter, I was a bit underwhelmed by this passage, but then I saw the parallels with John 16, when Jesus tells his disciples he is going away, but it is for their good, because God will send the Counselor to them. A different presence, but always present.

    Nanci March 9, 2010 |
  9. Thanks for pointing out the various ways in which God meets our needs. We (I) always want the supernatural manna, but sometime miss the more “mundane” natural ways in which our Father takes care of us.

    Murray March 9, 2010 |
  10. Hannah, Thank you for taking the time to write this devotional and sharing it with us! I have been reflecting on our human tendencies to hold on and not let go. i.e. God meets a need in a miraculous way. Then we want God to keep on meeting us in miraculous ways. But God also meets us in the “mundane” and the mundane becomes holy.

    Donna Mast March 10, 2010 |
  11. I’ve been eating manna sandwiches for years…tasty (and filling)

    Brian Paff March 11, 2010 |