The Bible and Economics (7)

Scarcity and Ownership (2)

When Moses led the people through the wilderness, God gave them a taste of Eden. He gave them manna (Ex. 16:14-22) – as we say, manna from heaven. There were still terms of trade associated with manna. They could keep only one day’s supply, except on the day preceding the sabbath, on which they could gather two days’ supply. Anything extra left overnight in the pot would rot.

He gave them permanent clothing: wash-and-wear indefinitely clothing. He gave them feet to match. “Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years” (Deut. 8:4).

Two days after they celebrated the Passover in the Promised Land, the manna ceased forever (Josh. 5:11-12). Presumably, their clothing started to wear out, and some people’s feet started to swell. From that day on in Israel, there was greater demand than supply at zero price for food, clothing, and comfortable footwear. The Edenic terms of trade once again disappeared. A new era of economic law was about to begin for the generation of the conquest. But grace always precedes law.[1]

Everyone likes it when an essential asset is free, especially when there is little or no money. But when it takes time, effort and money to procure that item, we realise just how important that asset really is.

Manna from heaven was only for 40 years. It was a brief, transition experience for the children of Israel, and God required that they be immediately weaned of it, when they celebrated the Passover in the promised land.

This should show us that responsibility for ourselves in God’s economy, is normal. Children need someone else to care and provide for them, but as Christians, we are not to behave like children. God is still our Provider of course, but our task is to identify the income stream He provides, and seek to grow it for His glory.

Thus responsibility is Christian, and the dependence of children is normal, but must not last. Paul was critical of the Corinthians, because he said that

I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to drink it (I Cor.3:1-2).

As believers we are all dependent upon the Lord, and obligated to be responsible and diligent individuals before Him, each one of us gifted in some way from Him. Furthermore, we live in a world of God’s creation that He sustains. This should all give us confidence, for “…all things belong to you” (I Cor.3:22).


[1] Gary North, “Christian Economics in One Lesson,” 2016, ‘Scarcity and Ownership.’