Stinking To High Heaven

And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.”’ Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need. And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.” Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. – Exodus 16:14; 15c-20.

Ray Bolanos had been on a fishing trip in Alaska and had caught enough halibut to fill up two ice chests. Ray carefully tied rope around the chests and checked them with his luggage when he took the flight home from Anchorage to Seattle. However, something happened on the flight home to the fish. One of the ice chests no longer had the rope tied around it and much of the halibut was missing. Of course, Ray was upset and it appeared that the fish had been stolen. That is the way it appeared until something began to smell. Workers noticed an ugly smell coming from near a conveyor belt. Further investigation resulted in finding the missing fish, which by this time was rotting and smelling horribly.

We can feel sorry for the airport workers who had to clean up the stinking fish. The good thing about that was that the workers were not personally responsible for the smell. The Israelites had a different and bigger problem. God miraculously provided food for the Israelites after they left Egypt. No one knows for sure what the heavenly food “manna” looked or tasted like. It must have been tasty because people tried to keep the leftovers even though they were told not to do so. A terrible thing happened when the “manna” leftovers were kept too long; it began to smell and there were worms in it. The Bible says that this leftover manna “stank”. You would think that there were a large number of people who did not heed the command of God given by Moses not to keep the manna that was not eaten. Moses could smell it; perhaps there was a stench that covered the whole camp. The people woke up the next morning to the terrible smell of wormy manna stinking up the place.

Moses was angry with those who had disobeyed and if Moses was angry it was likely that God was not too happy either. It may have smelled so bad that the smell even reached Heaven! Could that be where the term “stinking to high Heaven” originated?

To bring this forward in time to us we see that the Israelites had a clear and simple command about what to do with the manna. They were to gather it six days a week and promptly dispose of all they did not consume. When they failed to do so, they stunk the place up. Here is something to think about; when we fail to do what we clearly know that we ought to do is there a spiritual stench about our lives? Do we “stink to high heaven”? Do Christians around us have to figuratively hold their noses when they are around us? It must have been an ugly smell when Demas forsook the apostle Paul for the things of this world (2 Timothy 4:12). Surely it was an ugly stench when John Mark left the work and the mission effort to go back home (Acts 15:37-38).

What if God could smell it every time we do good and every time we do wrong? Would there always be a stench around our lives of the rotting sinfulness that stinks to high heaven or a sweet-smelling aroma coming from our obedience that is “well pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18)?

(The ugly smell of sin.)

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