Financial Foundations



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Money: Now You See Me: Now You Don't

Hard times in Alberta call for a financial refocus back to the Bible. Some Bible passages I find difficult to understand. For example, when God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it soon became apparent that the desert vegetation and wildlife could not sustain them. God supplied manna, the sweet cookie-like food, six days a week. Obviously, this was miraculous. We find the full account in Exodus 16. There was enough for over two million people. The manna that came on the sixth day lasted for two days, while all other days’ manna spoiled in one day. Personal effort was required to collect this miracle food; it did not just crystallize in their baskets.

But wait; how can you believe such nonsense? You might as well believe in Santa Claus! On the other hand, how can you not believe it? If someone wanted to start up a religious movement, then he should have made the account more plausible. It’s too ridiculous to be contrived, especially when juxtaposed with the Ten Commandments just a few chapters on. The Ten Commandments formed the legal framework of the entire Judeo-Christian civilization across the globe for millennia. To reject the Bible's miraculous events while accepting its moral teachings is to putting yourself above the Almighty God. Thus the manna story, although admittedly bizarre, like the parting of the Red Sea, must be true.

The part in the story that baffles me is verse 18: “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.” They were commanded to collect the right amount for each household, but those who collected less ended up with more (that was nice of God to add to their food supply). Those who collected more than the optimal amount for their household ended up with less. (Wow! God actually made food disappear. That’s a switch.) Pity the poor guy who wasted his time collecting that extra manna when he could have been home playing soccer with the kids.

Most of the time we read about God supplying the needs of His people, but in this case we read that God reduced their resources. It seems to me that many wasted their time gathering excess manna. On the sixth day everyone was surprised to find twice as much in their baskets. The leaders had been warned by Moses against storing excess manna. This was no ordinary food. The LORD is no ordinary god! He wanted to train His people on Sabbath rest even before the Ten Commandments were given. So what’s the point?
God wants to teach us to trust and obey Him rather than just maximizing our assets. To use business jargon, wealth should be optimized not maximized. Furthermore, when we don’t trust and obey Him but choose to chase wealth instead, God has ways of making our assets shrink or lose their ability to benefit us. Paul, the apostle, quotes this passage in 2 Corinthians 8:15, “As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack’.” God likes to see the Body of Christ operating efficiently everywhere rather than having some members fat and others anemic. A loving father wants to see all his children healthy.

Ever spend too much time working? Does the money you work hard for just seem to disappear? Imagine how the time spent gathering excess food could have been spent better. God expects His children to work with different financial strategies than pagans use. Certainly some aspects must be the same, as rain and sun come on both the evil and the good, but God gives His children access to additional resources unknown to the world. Let’s learn to work within His program. Let’s not waste time getting stuff that God won’t bless. Our current economic slump might help some Albertans consider the power of the Almighty God rather than the almighty dollar.