Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – God Feeds the 600,000; Jesus Feeds the 5,000+ (Numbers 11:21-23)

Featured image: from The Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland.

But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, and they may eat a whole month!’ Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?” And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’S hand shortened? Now you shall see whether My Word will come true for you or not.”

Numbers 11:21-23

We often say history repeats itself. So does God’s gracious actions. The Lord’s words here are similar to what He says when Sarah laughs after He tells her that she shall bear a son, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14). Whereas in Genesis, He gives Abraham and Sarah a generous timeframe—”about this time next year”—with Moses He is purposefully ambiguous, essentially saying, “You will see whether I will do it or not.” Of course, He does do it, and rather miraculously. He causes a great wind from the Read Sea (the gulf of Akaba) to bring them a bunch of quail to eat (vv. 31-32). And as we’ve already seen, it is a rather bittersweet thing for Israel. It is sweet in that they got the meat they wanted, which was satisfying for a time, but bitter in that they will get sick of it after a month of eating only meat and that they were struck with a plague before they even swallowed it (vv. 33-34).

This is not the only time when the Lord repeats Himself. He repeats Himself when Jesus feeds over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish He looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And He divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Mark 6:41-44

The account says Jesus fed 5,000 men, which is why we say He fed over 5,000 because this calculation doesn’t include women and children. The number is probably closer to 10,000!

Our lesson here is that Jesus is Yahweh incarnate, the Lord of all creation, as we see in other places (e.g., His calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee). How is this for our comfort? As the Lord of all creation, He has power over life and death, as evidenced in His resurrection. He gives life to all, from the womb to our daily bread as we live on this earth. And just as He rose Himself from the dead, so He has power to raise you and me from the dead.

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