Based on Exodus 16 (CSB)
Moses wiped his brow as the desert sun beat down on him. The heat of the day would be behind them soon, but for now they would have to endure. Moses sat outside his newly erected tent, watching the rest of the community rest in the shade. It had been a month since Pharaoh had finally let the people go and Moses had led Israel out of slavery in Egypt. So many people walked out of bondage, out of the only life they had ever known, and watched God reveal His might. And when Pharaoh’s army came charging after them, God protected them. He parted the sea and the people walked through on dry ground. Now weeks after that event, the people still spoke of that day with awe.
But things were beginning to get difficult. The people were beginning to complain and Moses wasn’t sure how much more of their grumbling he could take.
Especially after last night.
The conversation from the night before was still fresh in Moses’ mind, though it was much more confrontation than conversation. A mob of Israelite men had approached Moses and his brother Aaron with expressions that made Moses stiffen. They looked angry and afraid–not a good mix. He’d already seen that look once before when the people complained about the lack of water when the came to a bitter spring at Marah.
Moses had taken their complaints to the Lord, who had shown Moses a tree. The Lord instructed Moses to toss the tree into the water, then it became drinkable and the people had their fill.
That day was a test of the people’s faith. God was testing the people to see if they would follow His commands.
Apparently the people forgot God’s provision at Marah, for those same complainers had stood before Moses once again last night. Their whining and grumbling replayed in his mind, scraping his nerves. “If only we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!”
Even now the words made Moses clench his fists. As if leading an entire nation out of Egypt had been Moses’ idea. He was well aware their food was almost gone. The little they had left from when they came out of Egypt with had been strictly rationed, but even still not much remained to feed the people.
What are we going to do, Lord? How am I going to feed all these people?
He’d prayed the same words the night before, but this morning he finally heard an answer. “I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”
Bread from heaven.
Moses didn’t understand what that meant until he stepped outside of his tent the next morning. All around the camp fine flakes covered the desert ground. Moses bent and lifted a handful, letting the strange food slide through his fingers, then he gathered his portion, just enough for him and his family to eat that day.
As the Israelite roused and stepped outside their tents, he saw many bent over the ground, examining the bread as he had. “What is it?” he heard many ask.
Raising his portion to the camp, he spoke, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each person needs to eat. You may take two quarts per individual, according to the number of people each of you has in your tent. No one is to let any of it remain until morning.”
Moses watched as the people gathered what they needed and started up their cook fires. One woman in particular, a widow with three young children, didn’t head Moses’ words about taking only enough for that day, and by the next morning a putrid smell came from her tent. She wasn’t the only one who had disobeyed the commands of the Lord. Many awoke the next morning and found that their day-old manna, as the people were calling it, had spoiled. So, they were forced to gather fresh portion.
For five days Moses watched the people gather manna each morning. One the sixth the Lord commanded everyone to take double, for the next day would be a day of rest. No work, no manna to gather. Despite the fact that the manna had spoiled the previous days when they gathered too much, the people had to trust that the food would keep through the Sabbath. And they would know that the Lord was provider.
I find it so interesting that before Israel ever reached Sinai and God gave Moses the Law, the Lord gave two commands in those first few months of freedom: Remember and Rest.
The command to remember came in the form of the Passover celebration. After that first Passover meal the night before Israel left Egypt, the Lord used it to mark the beginning of the Israelite calendar. Every year they were to observe the day and remember how the Lord had led them out of Egypt.
The second command, the command to rest, came here in the wilderness when the Lord rained bread from heaven and gave them the Sabbath. It was to be a day of complete rest that served as a weekly test, a weekly reminder for the people to trust they Lord for what they needed.
It’s amazing how many times time Lord says that He’s testing the people. Like a teacher issuing a pop quiz, the Lord is giving the people another chance to trust Him as their provider. Sure, they’d seen the wonders of the Lord in Egypt and when they crossed the sea, but would they take what they knew about Him and apply it to their new situation. Could they trust that the One who had rescued them from Pharaoh’s army could provide their daily bread?
It’s the question our faith hinges on: Can I trust the Lord?
Not just in the generic do-you-believe-He-exists kind of way. But a daily faith that trusts that God has His hand in every aspect of our lives.
Can I trust God to provide for my family? Can I trust Him to help me pay my bills on time? Can I trust Him with transportation when my car recently broke down? Can I trust Him with all of these swirling dreams and ideas? Can I trust Him to provide the people I need to speak truth into my life? Can I trust Him with my time and lay my schedule daily at His feet? Can I trust Him to give me the strength I need just to get out of bed in the morning?
Sometimes those are the hardest questions to answer. We want to make sure things get done, we want to be the ones in control. But like the Israelites’ daily exercise of gathering manna, God asks us to trust and depend on Him daily.
In what areas do you need to trust God to provide the “manna?” Where is God asking you to take a Sabbath and rest in the fact that God is provider?
Live in His love!
Related: Do You Trust Me?