December 24, 2006

Leftovers? Again?

Even after cooking meals for several decades, I still don’t get the amounts right; I have leftovers in the frig. Sometimes I plan for that though. I don’t want to cook the next day, or I have way more of the main ingredients than 2-3 people can eat, so why not cook once and eat twice!

In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha was given twenty loaves of bread for himself and the other prophets. They were not big loaves like some of mine, so when the servant was told to ”Give it to the people, that they may eat” he said, “What? Shall I set this before one hundred men?”

Elisha told him, “Give it to the people, that they may eat; for thus says the Lord: ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’”

It is miracle enough that God stretched this amount of food to feed His people, but another curiosity is that He also planned leftovers. The same thing happened in the New Testament when Jesus fed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Afterwards, the disciples gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers. Later, He fed 4000 with seven loaves and a few little fish, and they gathered seven large baskets of leftovers.

What is this with leftovers? It is normally a negative word, but should it be? God makes it clear that we’re to give him the first of everything, not the last of everything. Our tendency is that we want to give God what’s left over, and that is a no-no.

Also, I know I’m to ask for “daily bread” and I know the value of daily devotions. What He gave me yesterday rarely works for today, just as when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and were fed manna. They had to gather it daily and if they tried to keep some for the next day, it rotted—except for Sabbath. Then they could gather twice as much the day before and eat the leftovers the next day.

In Jewish law, most sacrificial meals required that they ate all the food; any leftovers were burned. However, in some of those ceremonial feasts, the first portion went to the priests and the leftovers were shared in fellowship.

There is something here that I am trying to get my mind around. I know that God’s thoughts are not like ours. Could it be that He is saying leftovers should not be put at the bottom of the status ladder, that we should consider them a gift from Him and use them wisely?

It seems to me that the fact of leftovers reveals the heart of God. When He gives me something, a good thing that He wants me to pass on to others, He will make sure that I will not be left empty. He will give me back leftovers that add up to far more than I gave away.

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