a study through Exodus on how God shapes His leaders
What is it?! That’s what the Israelites called the flaky whiteness that appeared on the barren ground of the wilderness. In a land that was devoid of nutrients and substance, this divine provision was life-saving to the Israelites and nothing short of a miracle. Yet in the midst of their grumbling and complaining attitude, all the Israelites could say is “What is it?!”
Manna was something that would become a staple for the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings. However, at the beginning, they had no clue what it was. After leaving the Red Sea and experiencing the bitter water made sweet at Marah, you’d think that the Israelites would be ready to trust God for everything.
Despite watching the Ten Plagues and seeing a sea part in front of them, the Israelites still did not believe that God would provide for them. So the moment things started looking desperate, they did what they always did—complain. They complained about the lack of food in the wilderness and grumbled about the scarcity of meat. Nevertheless, God was faithful and provided for them despite their unbelief.
Manna was God’s provision for the Israelites during a time of need, and it was a sign for them that they may come to know and believe in the LORD their God. But the lessons gleaned from manna didn’t stop with the Israelites. God still teaches us through the divine provision He gave His people thousands of years ago. Today, I want to look at four lessons that we can gather from manna.
1. God always provides.
“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 middle of a barren wilderness, God brought food. He gave the Israelites bread to eat and meat for their sustenance. Likewise, God will always provide for us. He will give us everything we need. The Israelites needed food, and God gave it to them.
Notice that God didn’t give them everything they may have wanted, though. The manna wasn’t a five course meal, but it was nourishment. It also wasn’t sitting in jars waiting for the Israelites to take it home. It was scattered on the ground and the children of Israel needed to go out and gather it.
God provides for our needs, but He also wants us to put in some effort for it. Just as the Israelites didn’t sit in their tent waiting for the daily delivery of manna but had to go out and gather it, so also we cannot expect God to express deliver His provisions. We need to go out and work for it, doing our part and receiving what God has given.
2. God wants us to believe His Word and trust Him.
“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.”
God promised the Israelites that each day He would give them new food. Therefore, Moses commanded the people to have no left overs. They were to eat everything they had gathered for the day. This required an act of faith. The children of Israel needed to believe and trust God that He would indeed provide for tomorrow’s meal.
But some of them didn’t have the faith to believe. They didn’t trust the One who had delivered them from Egypt and parted the Red Sea in front of them. They took the gift that God had given them and tried to ration it, attempting to save some for the next day.
How did that work for them? They ended up with wormy manna that started rotting. Not a pleasant sight. God did that so the Israelites could not horde His provisions. He wanted them to trust Him and enjoy each day’s manna completely.
Likewise, He wants us to sit back and fully enjoy His provision and not worry about tomorrow. He will always provide, so we don’t need to try to horde God’s previous provisions for tomorrow or the next week. We can fully enjoy it now. And God wants us to.
So the next time you’re tempted to forget God’s faithfulness or start worrying about tomorrow, remember the rotting, smelly manna that the Israelites had when they tried to horde God’s provision for future use. Don’t worry about the future. Enjoy the present, and trust God and His Word that He will provide all that you need. Remember what Jesus said about worry:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
~Matthew 6:25, 33
We will continue looking at lessons we can glean from manna next week. But in the meantime, what can you take-away from what we’ve seen so far? Do you believe that God will always provide? Or are you too busy grumbling and complaining about your life? Do you trust God and His Word? Or are you worrying so much about the future that you miss out on the blessings and provision in the present?
God is faithful, and we can trust Him. So let’s remember these lessons from manna and grow our faith in the LORD, our Provider.