Here in the wilderness the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our kettles of meat and ate our fill of bread! But you have led us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of famine!”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread, and then you will know that I, the LORD, am your God.”
In the evening, quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all about the camp, and when the layer of dew evaporated, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.’ ~Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 (NABRE)
The Israelites had been held in slavery for generations. Then God sent Moses to liberate His people. God brought the plagues to Egypt and then they experienced the promise of Passover when their marked homes were passed over as the angel of death carried off all the first born in Egypt. If those events weren’t enough, they experienced the parting of the Red Sea as they were escaping Pharaoh’s army. Finally they were free! Can you imagine how that must have felt to know that you were no longer at the service of somebody else? You were your own person and nobody could tell you what to do.
Except, they were hungry. When they had been slaves they had at least had food. Now that they were free they had nothing. They decided they would rather still be slaves with food than free with empty stomachs. God heard their grumbling and sent manna from heaven. They didn’t know what the fine flakes were or what they were supposed to do with them, but Moses set them straight and told them it was a gift from God.
I don’t quite understand the mindset of the Israelites. They knew God had brought them out of Egypt and they saw what Moses was able to accomplish with God’s influence, so why didn’t they automatically ask God to bless them with sustenance? Later on we’ll see that when Moses leaves them alone for two minutes they act like toddlers and start causing all kinds of problems by beginning to worship the golden calf. How many miracles did God have to do in order to make them turn to Him?
Then I stop and think… how many times do I act like the Israelites? I have been very fortunate to not be a slave, but how many times have I let myself be a slave to something just to have God rescue me? Do I then continue to turn to him or do I run off, yelling “Thanks” over my shoulder, as I go off to prove that I can do it myself? When things are going bad do I turn to him and ask for help? Do I continue on and figure that I will come up with a solution?
God knows us and he knows that we’re going to mess up. And yet he continues to help us. He sent the Israelites bread from heaven, but today in a lot of churches we also receive bread from heaven at our weekly celebrations.
Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”Luke 22:19 (NABRE)
Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It was this “bread” from heaven that allows us to be welcomed back into God’s presence. Did God leave it at that, though? Did he give us Jesus to be our Savior and then leave us to our own vices in the hopes that it will stick? No. We have his Word in the version of the Bible. When we hunger for the Lord, and don’t know where else to turn, we can at least open the Bible and read the Word. All of his promises are there in print for us to read. We don’t have to rely upon guys like Moses to tell us what the Lord wants us to know.
When I’m having a bad day and I feel like I need to hear something from the Lord I can quench that hunger by opening up his Word. It may not be exactly what I thought I wanted to hear, but I always get something out of it. Even if all I get is the sense that He is with me always. Remember, God loves you.