Scarcity or Abundance?

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In the Bible, the idea of scarcity first appears in Genesis 41. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream that in the seven years of plenty Egypt should store up food and resources for the following seven years of famine. In the first year of the famine the Egyptian people gave up their land for food, the following year their cattle and by the third year of the famine they had no collateral but themselves (Gen 47:13-19).

According to Brueggemann, “That’s how the children of Israel [became] slaves-through an economic transaction” (“The Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity,” The Christian Century, 1999, p. 343).

When God led Israel out of Egypt one of the first things that He did for them was address their short-term and long-term need for food by raining bread (manna) from heaven (Ex 16:4). Rain in Hebrew is a hiphil participle. A hiphil verb is one of causation and a participle is repeated action. God is the Agent, the one causing the action to occur. God’s raining of manna from Heaven was one that He caused and provided and did so continuously until the day Israel entered the Promised Land (Josh 5:12).

This gift of manna from heaven came with a test to see if Israel would walk in the ways of His Law or not (Ex 16:4). “The people’s willingness to obey the manna-gathering law  would show God whether or not they would be inclined to keep his covenant law as revealed at Mount Sinai. It was not just a test to see if they could follow instructions but a test to see if their hearts were inclined to be his covenant people. The test itself required faith for an agricultural people. Farmers know that if one harvests only enough food in a day to meet the needs of that day, eventually one has no food because no crops or animals produce food every day. Now they were being asked to restrain their natural tendency to gather as much as was available to gather in anticipation of the time when no gathering would be possible. God was teaching them to trust him every day afresh, and they were challenged to think about his provision in a way that had never before been part of their planning pattern” (Stuart, Exodus, NAC, 2006, p. 372).

Here is where the fear of scarcity filtered into the minds of the Israelites. On the sixth day, the Israelites were to gather twice as much so to have food for the Sabbath as well (Ex 16:5). “The resulting arrangement provided a weekly opportunity for the emerging Israelite community to be tested by God and to learn about his faithful provision. Every sixth day they would have to discipline themselves to gather twice the usual amount of manna but only that much. Every Sabbath they had to trust that when they woke up, there would be enough manna left to eat and that it would not have spoiled overnight as it might on other days. Thus each week they would see how God provided for them, in a manner counterintuitive to their normal sense of how to gather and store food, and God could see how they were doing in learning to obey him in advance of his giving them his full covenant law over many months following the encampment at Sinai” (Stuart, Exodus, pp. 372-373.

This reminds me of Proverbs 30:7-9 “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (ESV).

Agur, the author of the proverb, knows his weaknesses. Agur’s prayer request is that the Lord would not give him poverty nor wealth, as falsehood and lying “are the deceptiveness of both wealth and poverty” (Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, NAC, 1993, p. 238).

This of course reminds me of Jesus’s Words in the Disciple’s Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer is John 17), “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11).  Jesus’s Words here are an allusion to Exodus 16:4 where God will rain manna from heaven. “Just as God provided the wilderness generation with daily bread (i.e., the manna), so Jesus’ disciples, who are also living in a time of salvation, should petition God to provide them with daily bread” (Evans, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke, 2003, p. 125).

As I type this post we (at least in the States) are being given a narrative of scarcity. People’s fear and emotions are being elevated as we are being told that meat processing plants are closing due to COVID-19 and that the food may go to waste. While we should be prepared and buy meat, we do NOT need to hoard! Fear mongering is driving the narrative of scarcity. Again,  there is nothing wrong with buying meat, we do not need to hoard. People need meat to survive, so if you are compelled to hoard, let it be the toilet paper!

While I have lived in a farming community my whole life, no one in my family farms. What God has really taught me over the years is that the farther one is removed from providing their food, the less thankful they are. I have never had to work for my food. When I sit down to pray before I eat, my level of thankfulness is no where the same as the farmer or the person who is thankful for that specific meal and trusting God for their next.

These are stressful times for all of us right now. We are all dealing with fear in our own way and media outlets know this. When we start to fear the narrative of scarcity over the great abundance of God, may we ask Him to renew and transform our minds by remembering what He has done and how He has provided for us in the past, as well as discerning His Will for our lives now (Rom 12:1-2).

Father God, thank You for the ways that You provide for us each day. Lord, may we NEVER take Your provisions for granted. Lord, I ask that You help those of us in an area of abundance to not hoard. Lord God, thank You that You know our needs and You know exactly how to care for and sustain us. Lord God, may this time of COVID-19 bring us to a greater level of thankfulness and appreciation for You and for community. Lord God, give us wisdom when it comes to being prepared. Lord God, may we come to a place where we can say “we have Jesus, we have today and each other and that is enough.” Lord God, break the strongholds of consumerism that is plaguing society today. Lord God, teach us to trust. Teach us to exercise self-control. Help us to hear Your still small voice in the midst of all the competing noise. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Thank You that You are this reader’s Jehovah Jireh. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

26 thoughts on “Scarcity or Abundance?”

  1. Thank you, Mandy for this post, which I could draw up a metaphor of a roasted chicken that is slowly cooked until it gets crispier and juicier for dinner. As the paragraph progresses, I could draw up (guilty) lessons and reflections. For one, being secured should not be about the stocks that will last for months but the faith that GOD never forsakes you; faith in GOD should be stronger. GOD is sovereign and in control, He also allows situations like this for us to realize and repent that we did not trust Him. Whether in Pandemic or in “normal” times, we tend to buy more than what is needed; it is in our nature and we should ask GOD to temper it. We should always be thankful to GOD for the things that we enjoy while in this pandemic, afterall, it is all His blessings; including the air that we breathe. And lastly, it is okay to hoard (a little) toilet paper. 😉

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      1. All praises to the Triune GOD, Mandy! And thank you too for the prayer; these are the results for the glory of GOD. We all are; when I read your persuassive arguements as the set of chronological paragraphs progresses, I was convicted, guilty of having this false worldly security instead it should be security with GOD. Very effective post as it left me podering on guilt and reminded of Luke 12:13-21. And I prayed immediately, asking for forgiveness to GOD.

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  2. Mandy, Mandy, Mandy. I love this. Terrific examples from the passages used here. Our nature is to gather more than needed in times of disruption in the food supply chain. We are currently in God’s “fitness center” as we exercise our faith in real-time. Love and health to you. God’s grip – Alan

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  3. We have it so good in America. We are blessed beyond measure. I can go to the store anytime I want, even with the current restrictions. What would I do if my only food was manna each day? Not sure I’d handle that very well. I am grateful that God does provide and He is faithful even when we are not. Thanks for another informative and uplifting post. Blessings to you dear Mandy!

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    1. Hi, Meghan! I am so thankful for your recipes as I am NOT creative when it comes to cooking! As such, while I probably would grow tired of eating manna and quail, there would be some comfort in knowing that I would not starve nor worry about what we would eat or how I would prepare it as we wandered through the wilderness! I am thankful that He is faithful even when we are not!!! Love and blessings!!!!

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  4. A very relevant post right now; I’ve been moved to pray for not only our country’s food producers but other parts of the world especially in areas where the economy is so poor, its food to mouth right away kind of society.

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    1. Hi, Jim! I have been praying as well. This next wave of locusts in East Africa is terrifying to me. I hate waste with a hatred that if left unchecked is sinful not righteous. Like you, I have traversed God’s green earth and it grieves me at how unaware people can be of their blessings, their abundance and dare I say, freedom. Am I allowed to ask what area of theology you’re teaching?!

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      1. Hey, Jim! I always assumed you were teaching in Asia. What area of theology do you like to teach the most?! I have been praying against any negativity you and your family may face in regards to race/ethnicity and the coronavirus. It is important to me that you know that.

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      2. I normally teach systematic theology in the area of Christology and soteriology and also taught Old Testament survey. Also I’ve been asked to teach a lot on singleness, marriage and family which might be as traditional for us in the west thinking of academic teaching but it seems there’s a big need to think biblically and apply God’s Word in this area all over Asia. I am thankful each time teaching something new so it stretches me and even with areas I’ve taught before I still read a lot and study to grow and to teach better and teach more. Thanks for your prayers; that means a lot. I have always felt a deep love for our country (110%!) and I’m willing to die for America, so its sad to hear of people being racial with the virus. Still I’m glad to see its not as frequent you see racial attacks or prejudices and also for others speaking out! Thanks Mandy!

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      3. You are AMAZING! I wish I could participate in your in one of your marriage and family classes when you teach the 5th commandment! I really respect and am challenged by how Asian believers understand this. I have spent a lot of time caring for the elderly and have great commitment and loyalty to my folks so I do not mean that snarky! I would honestly love to hear that discussion! Thank you for sharing, I appreciate it!

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  5. Mandy, this is great truth! Thank you for working this out through your gift of writing. I spoke with a good friend this past weekend in Liberia. She serves the Lord there and has been, even in the Ebola crisis. Your post speaks truth not just for today and where we live, but is a timeless, global and Biblical truth! THANK YOU!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Heidi! Thank you SO much for reading and for your encouragement! While I have never been to Liberia, I have spent time in Sierra Leone. I love West Africa, beautiful! I had many places in mind as I was writing my post. My ex-finance is a farmer in Sierra Leone and I learned how very real the threat is of not having food. Thank you again, Heidi! Love and blessings! Keep smiling for Jesus, I love it!

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  6. You’ve done it again Mandy! You have brought blessings to me from the Old Testament of God’s Word, hallelujah! We are sucked into trusting the consumer market and the money in our pocket, when our Faith should be in God alone to provide for us in season. One of the most valuable lesson I learned was when my flat was burgled years ago, all my groceries were stolen. I had nothing literally, I had just done my fortnightly shop. But God provided for me through christian friends, and I did not go hungry. From a tragedy and despair God provided all I needed. I praise God for His provision for my needs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Alan! Thank you for encouraging me! I really enjoy studying “the Bible that Jesus read” (that is what my Hebrew professor called the OT). Thank you for sharing this story. It’s true, we really don’t know how much we need Jesus until Jesus is all we have. Thank you again for sharing your story of Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who Provides!

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