Question: Come up with a list of things it seems like we never have enough of. One example might be time! Write each idea on a different cup. Then discuss with your partner why you don’t feel you have enough of it, and fill the cup to the level you think you have. For example, if you have very little free time, you might just put a half-inch of water in the “time” cup. Allow time for groups to mark and add water to several cups. Now fill the cup all the way. As you drink the water, pray that God will replenish you and give you the strength you need in regard to the topic on your cup. If you’re still thirsty when your cup is empty, get a refill! Drink until you’re no longer in want.
Question: In what ways did you most identify with the Israelites’ experience? What can you learn from this passage about how or why you can trust in God to meet your needs? How is this story like an analogy for all of life?
Then the LORD said to Moses, “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. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. And the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’”
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 16:2-21 ESV)
We don’t know exactly what “the glory of the Lord” was that the Israelites saw in the morning, but it was a visible sign to them (perhaps like the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night mentioned in Exodus 13). God wanted Israel to know that he was still there, that he was aware of their need, and that he was going to provide for them.
When the manna appeared the first morning, the Hebrews’ question “What is it?” apparently caught
on as its name because manna means “What is it?” Though some have suggested various possibilities for what manna was, nothing we know of today is a good match for the description given in Exodus 16:31: “It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.”
Question: Why do you think the manna “reset” to the same amount for each person, and any extra melted each night? What would the Israelites have learned?
Challenge: Take a hard look at your home and your possessions. Are your closets bulging? Do you have just enough or too much? Begin to purge your home of things you don’t truly need. Be a blessing to others by giving away useful items to those in need.