Wednesday 7 March


6 The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the LORD. For the LORD had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.

9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.”

10 On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.

JOSHUA 5:6, 9-12

Canaan flows with milk and honey and the symbolism is of abundance and the manna supply ceased. This marked a new era for the post-wilderness travellers. They had arrived in Canaan, a new home, where they would settle. Consequently, they were able to cultivate crops and rear animals, producing cereals and milk, so that they lived and ate differently.

Until the entry into Canaan, the Passover had been a memorial of the flight from Egypt. In the wilderness its celebration could only focus on that dimension.  In Canaan, the Passover takes on a new significance, they could  celebrate arrival as well as the departure. They do not need manna any more; there is more and better to eat from the new land.

Their diet changed both practically and symbolically. In the wilderness, there was not much to thank God for (or so they thought). Manna was an emergency ration, a direct gift from God to keep them alive. Yet those whom it initially sustained, who turned away from God and his generous act of deliverance, ultimately died en route. The new generation arrived, settled and ate different food produced in a different way.

The Israelites took into their own bodies a different form of God’s gift.  Gift for which they had to work but which yielded so much more in variety and potential. The new life gave much for which to be grateful and the Passover gained a new identity as a feast of gratitude that future generations continued to celebrate.

God’s promise of resources was consistent but what the Israelites actually received varied as they moved and circumstances changed.

Lord, you give us good things to eat and drink in every time, place and season. Teach us to value and give thanks for your provision whenever and however we encounter it. Amen