So the Israelites complain, and God is so gracious that He hears their complaint, and graciously provides for them in this ingenious way that
1) Satisfies their legitimate need (hunger) while
2) NOT indulging their sinful cravings,
3) Teaching them priceless lessons on trust and obedience, and
4) Testing their hearts whether they will walk in His ways.
God is so smart. He says:
“Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” Ex 16:4
So, God provides food for them. It is a flaky substance, like wheat flour. It rested like frost, on everything, and they would go out and gather it up early in the morning, because by the time the sun was hot, it melted and was gone. So they had to gather it up in every morning, and then do something with it.
What did they do with it? Boiled it or baked it. So their choices were basically pasta or bread.
But here was the beautiful thing about manna. There was always exactly the right amount.
“Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as they could eat” (v. 19).
You weren’t to gather more than you needed, just what you needed.
And there was no hoarding, or stocking up, or saving some for tomorrow. Each person had to get their own, every day, and they were strictly commanded NOT to save up any of it for the next day. Why? Because God had told them that tomorrow He would give them more. That’s why. He said each day He would rain down a day’s portion.
See saving up extra would be essentially saying to God,
“I don’t trust that you will do what you say you’ll do. I don’t trust that you’ll make good on your promise. I don’t trust you, and I don’t believe your promises. So I’ll do it myself. I actually trust my own ingenious methods more than your promises.”
Yikes. Right? So what happens? In classic Israelite fashion, they ignore his warning and …
“Some left part of it until morning (saved) and it bred worms and stank.”
See, this is no ordinary bread. God’s miraculous manna probably had the fiber of grains, the protein of meat, the vitamins of fruit, and the antioxidants of vegetables. It probably had the best enzymes and nutrients we can imagine, yet all miraculously wrapped up in a wheat-like flake that tasted like a honey-wafer (Ex. 16:31).
Did you catch that?!
Manna tasted like vanilla wafers!
Vanilla wafers that give me the nutrients of spinach and steak. Yes please!
But, immediately they have to trust that if they use up all their resources for any given day, God will give them the resources they need for the next day. But if they don’t, if they hold back from distrust, if they clench onto what they have, fearing tomorrow, anything leftover will rot, and the next morning will stink.
No rollover manna. No rollover food. No rollover resources. No rollover energy.
You have today’s. Period. That’s it. You have now. You have what you have. You have here. You have this reality. You have this life. You have this day. You have these children. You have this house.
Use it. Spend it. Cook it. Serve it.
Now, let’s talk as moms, just for a moment: Who do you think was cooking that manna? Who was kneading it, mixing it, boiling it, baking it? Who was tempted to save some for tomorrow? Who was the one responsible for feeding those babes, who was ever-mindful of the many little tummies in her care?
Mama. It was Mama’s manna. This was a test for everyone, of course, but I’m going to venture to say that the mamas felt it most keenly. Those mamas needed to trust that every single day, God would provide everything she needed for her whole family.
Which makes me wonder: What do we gather?
See, we will gather what we believe sustains us.
God’s Word actually fills and sustains us. So often we turn to what gives us a little jolt, a high, even if it’s negative. Just today in school we read about the propaganda of the Spanish-American war, how newspapers would print false information, making situations seem worse than they were, just so sales would go up. That tells me how much we often crave controversy, drama, conflict. But so often those sources actually drain. We might feel an initial buzz. But they leave us emptier.
Only God’s Word, His unchanging truth, His spoken word to our hearts in prayer, only this has what can sustain our hearts and souls. Jesus said man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds by the mouth of the Lord.
This gives a whole new perspective on “quiet time,” or spending daily time with God, in His Word and in prayer.
It is not another thing on the list. It is FOOD.
See, If the Israelites thought that gathering manna was just an arbitrary chore they had to do, like God was trying to think of things to keep them busy, another box to check off their daily to-do list, they wouldn’t have gathered it. Time is too precious to waste outside gathering white flaky stuff off the ground.
But if they believed the TRUTH, that it was FOOD, you better believe they’d be out gathering it up!
We will gather what we believe sustains us.
We will make time for what we believe benefits us. What truly nourishes us and energizes us. What helps us.
They were out gathering up white flaky stuff because they were needed to eat.
See, never do we say, “Wow, can you believe how disciplined those Israelites were? They went outside and gathered manna every single day for 40 years. Wow, what heroes!”
We never say that.
It wasn’t that they were so disciplined, it’s that they were desperate.
They weren’t heroes, they were hungry.
Are we hungry? Are we desperate for God? Or do we think we’re so wise we have all the answers ourselves. Do we think we don’t need His wisdom, His insights, His direction, His guidance, His strength, His love.
See, the reason I get into God’s Word and spent time in prayer each morning is not that I’m a disciplined person. I’m a desperate person. You wouldn’t believe the junk I have in my heart sometimes. It’s ridiculous. You wouldn’t believe how clueless I feel when I face each day and the complexity of so many situations. You wouldn’t believe how NOT NATURAL this living-by-faith thing is, and how lost I am without His love and constant guidance. You wouldn’t believe how unqualified I am to lead or serve or speak or do anything.
Let’s not settle for being disciplined. Or having the right answers. Or finding a verse to tweet. Or checking off a box.
Let’s be desperate. Let’s be hungry. Let’s recognize our need and turn to the only hope. Our Manna. Our source. Our daily bread.
Thanks for reading.