“Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?” (Exodus 16:27-28)
Printed on candies and cards, exchanged in classrooms and carried home in decorated paper sacks, this little message is arguably the central theme of the Bible.
God created us to be his own. This isn’t a complicated arrangement. “You will be my people and I will be your God.” That was the design from the very start.
But that didn’t sit well with us. We chaffed at the idea of “belonging” to anything or anyone but ourselves. “I am my own,” sounded far more appealing. Words like “master of my fate, captain of my ship” sounded high and noble and enlightened. So this is what we chose. It happened quickly in the biblical story; first book, third chapter.
And the rest of the biblical story is about God’s ongoing endeavor to bring us back to himself.
“Be mine” God said as he led his people out of slavery in Egypt.
“Be mine” God said as he parted the Red Sea.
“Be mine” God said as he rained manna from heaven each morning.
“Be mine” God said as he gave them water from the rock.
“Be mine” God said as he gave them his law and showed them the best way to live life.
“Be mine” God said with every prophet.
“Be mine” God said in his son Jesus.
“Be mine” God said finally and definitively from the cross and the empty tomb.
And someday, when the final pages of this story are being turned and every element of tension and discord in the plot is finding resolution, God will say “You’re mine” and people from every tribe and tongue will respond with sung exultations, “Indeed, we are yours.”
“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture . . . for the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Amen (Psalm 100:2-5)