“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.’” (Exodus 16:4)
I don’t think we realize what a monumental task it was to take care of an entire nation of people in a wilderness. There were no buffet restaurants. No fast food places. No stadium-sized roadside diners. There was just wilderness… and more wilderness – and God had to take care of His people for forty years in that place.
Most scholars estimate that the number of Israelites that journeyed out of Egypt was in the neighborhood of 2.4 million people. That’s a lot of happy meals!
God’s solution to the nearly impossible task of feeding so many people was to do something miraculous. Every morning, He would cause a substance to fall from heaven. We know this bread as “manna.” (Which literally means, “what is it?”) And every day God would provide this manna – and every day the people were required to collect all the manna they would need for that day. Some collected a lot. Some, just a little. But they always had enough. Just as long as they upheld their end of the bargain, and went out every morning to gather their food for the day.
This is a wonderful picture for us! Time and again we see it in Scripture. God promises to take care of His people, so He provides what they need (often miraculously) – but His people must participate in that provision. The people were required to gather in (receive) what God had provided for them. God’s provision, without our participation, goes to “waste” in the wilderness of this life.
Notice… God could have miraculously placed the “bread from heaven” in their hands. Or better yet… in their bellies. That would have been way easier. But that is not what He did. He provided. They participated… each and every day.
This is important as well. One thing the Bible tells us about manna… It had a one-day shelf life (except, miraculously, on the Sabbath day – when the people were not permitted to go and gather it). If the people tried to keep their manna for an extra day (so they could be lazy, and only go out when they wanted to!) it developed a bad case of stench and maggots (Ex. 16:20; Yum!). So EACH day they had to lay hold of God’s provision for their lives. EACH day they had to ingest His bread from heaven. EACH day their survival in the wilderness was dependent upon God’s provision… and their daily participation in His ongoing care for them.
The New Testament reminds us that these things (Old Testament lessons) are to serve as examples to us. We have new and better promises from God (Heb. 8:6). We have new and better provision from God. But all the “new and better” will be of no benefit to us if we do not participate in what God has done for us… EACH day.
And that’s the rub for many of us. We tend to want to survive on “old manna.” We want God’s “bread from heaven” from yesterday, or last week, or five years ago to be sufficient for our needs today. God has to remind us… it doesn’t work that way.
There is a reason why God’s mercies are new every morning… they come with a fresh provision of His “bread” to us – so that we will have the life we need for each of today’s concerns in the wilderness of this life.
Prayer Focus: God, fix in my heart the desire to come to You every day, for the “bread” that I need to sustain my daily walk through this life.