Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study how God is generous.
The following is a story from the Old Testament part of the Bible. God had just led his people, Israel, out os slavery in Egypt. The Egyptians had tried to recapture them, but God led the Israelites through the Red Sea, closing it behind them so the Egyptian army couldn’t cross. They were now facing a long and difficult journey through the desert toward a promised land God had given them. You’d think they’d be grateful after all that, and ready for a few challenges, but here’s what actually happened:
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
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.”
The miraculous nature of manna is further exhibited in what happened to it over the course of a Sabbath as opposed to a weekday. The Israelites were not to work on the Sabbath but to keep it as a day for worship. Gathering manna on the Sabbath would have been work, so God simply didn’t make it appear.
If anyone tried to keep manna from one weekday to the next, it would spoil. However, if anyone kept it from the morning before the Sabbath, it would stay good through the Sabbath.
This is where sayings like “bread from heaven” come from. Imagine – you are hungry, with no way to grow or buy any food at all. You’ve been led into the desert by a strong leader and some miraculous events, but now it looks to be ending with starvation. You start to grumble about it, and then food miraculously appears. How would you react?
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?