in the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. and when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. when the people of israel saw it, they said to one another, “what is it?” for they did not know what it was. and moses said to them, “it is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. this is what the Lord has commanded: ‘gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. you shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” and the people of israel did so. they gathered, some more, some less. but when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. each of them gathered as much as he could eat. and moses said to them, “let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” but they did not listen to moses. some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. and moses was angry with them. morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. [exodus 16:13-21]
God provided for the children of israel. he provided offspring for a promised nation, he provided protection against extinction in egypt, he provided a way of escape from the egyptians, he provided protection in the wilderness, he provided a way through the red sea, he provided success in battle, he provided his very own presence among them. and yet they grumbled. time and time again they longed for the chains of egypt because of the comforts that it offered. they had no interest in God himself, only the earthly gifts he could provide. and here they are again, grumbling against the Lord, and he hears their cry. he provides again, even while seeing their hardened hearts, hearing their doubt in his glory, and tasting their bitterness against his rule. he looks past their sin to his own promise to keep them, and he is faithful. he gives them the bread of life, and meat to keep them in the wilderness for forty years! what a faithful God!
yet the blessing was given with a test. a requirement of trust to take only what they needed for the day. a requirement of trust that he would provide not only today, but every day, exactly what they needed to live. and so the people of israel learned to trust God in the desert. this trust would rise and fall through the ages, but that generation knew through the manna from heaven, that he was the Lord, and that they were his people.
and so he is with us. i’m so struck with God’s mercy and faithfulness in this account, as i hold it up like a mirror to my own heart. in what ways have i lacked trust in the goodness of God? in what areas have i grumbled for lack of comfort? how many times have i looked at God’s provision and longed for a heaping tablespoon instead of the measured portion which he’s given? but he is faithful to his promise to keep me as his own, faithful to complete the work he started in me, faithful to provide everything i need for life and godliness. and does this faithfulness come with testing the way it did with the israelites? absolutely! he calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Christ Jesus is our life sustaining manna from heaven. so as we sit in his presence today, let us behold the lamb who takes away the sin of the world, let us taste and see that he is good, and let us trust the God who has called us out of egypt, into the promised land.
Father, you are so faithful. you provide the needs for both body and soul, and rightly call me to give my whole self in return. all i have is yours. so give me grace to see you as my greatest treasure, the bread of life. help me to see your provisions as yours, that i might not claim them as my own and hoard them for lack of trust in your promises. give me gratitude, give me grace. amen.