Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 16 and Revelation 15.
You can only carry so much food with you into a wilderness before your backpack feels light, the food runs out, and you become hungry. Very hungry.
As the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, the food began to run out.
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.” (Exo 16:2-3)
But the LORD who wields plagues and parts seas was more than capable of providing for his newly-freed people.
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.” (Exo 16:4)
No refrigerators. No Tupperware. No leftovers. When they didn’t listen to Moses, the leftovers would breed worms and stink (Exo 16:20).
Imagine being an Israelite parent in those days. As you tuck your daughter in for the night and begin to turn away, she grabs your hand and asks, “What are we going to eat tomorrow? The food is all gone.” How do you answer? Isn’t there just one possible answer as you spend another dark night in the wilderness? “The LORD will provide. Remember, he has promised. The LORD will provide.”
And the next morning, there it is again. As the dew evaporates, a fine, flake-like thing–fine as frost on the ground–is scattered across the face of the wilderness. Manna from the heavens. The LORD has provided what you and your family need for another day.
We’re sometimes hard on the children of Israel as we read of how often they grumbled and complained against Moses and the LORD who had set them free. And then we, oblivious to the irony, grumble and complain … with refrigerators full of more food than we can eat. With cold, clean water on demand. With cars that can drive 400 miles without stopping. All the while, perhaps the LORD is continuing to “test” us, as he tested the people of the Exodus.
More than a millennia later, Jesus reminded us, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” And then he encouraged us to humbly pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11). We’re not trekking through a desolate wilderness on foot, but the LORD who provides continues to hear our grumbling and our petitions, our complaining and our pleas.
May we heed the call to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” today, that we may “be blameless and innocent, children of God” (Phil 2:14-15)–the same God who continues to provide. “Give us this day our daily bread.”