In Exodus 5:20-21, the leaders of Israel said this to Moses after the Egyptians forced them to make more bricks without straw: “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” God responded by sending 10 plagues upon Egypt and delivering Israel from slavery. And the people worshiped God.
In Exodus 14:11-12, hemmed-in between the mighty Egyptian army on one side and the Red Sea on the other, the Israelites said this to Moses: “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” God responded by allowing them to cross the Red Sea safely on dry land, and then drowning the entire Egyptian army. And the people worshiped God.
Now that they have crossed the Red Sea, Exodus 16 finds God’s people in the wilderness on their way to Mt. Sinai. They are hungry, and so they say to Moses: “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.” (Exodus 16:3) What do you think is going to happen next? 😉
Of course, God is going to provide for them. Each time, the nation of Israel has responded to their circumstances by saying, “we’re going to die.” Each time, God has met their needs. Now, it would be easy to look at the nation of Israel and say, “What a bunch of complainers!” Or, “Where is their faith?” Or, “when are they ever going to learn?” In fact, a lot of sermons and commentaries on these verses say exactly that. I can’t point a finger at the nation of Israel without pointing four more back at myself. In my pride, I am prone to getting upset any time things aren’t going my way. And make no mistake about it – it IS a pride issue. I like to believe that I am smart enough and hard-working enough to meet any challenge. So when I can’t get someone I love to trust in Christ, when I’m not able to get my daughter to behave the way I want her to, when I’m not able to give my wife everything she needs from me, I whine to God too! I too easily forget how God has generously and graciously provided in the past, just like the Israelites are doing here. This is part of the sinful human condition after the fall. We all struggle with this issue, whether we admit it or not.
So, here in Exodus 16, God again comes through. He literally drops bread from heaven. But just enough for each day. Again, God is teaching His people to sync the rhythm of their lives with His kingdom. The Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover taught the people to live in a rhythm of sacrifice and redemption. The manna in the wilderness is to teach the people to live in a rhythm of dependence upon the Lord. Jesus modeled this in the Lord’s prayer when He said, “Give us each day our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3) We are to live in a rhythm of dependence upon the Lord for everything we need. In John 6:22-59, right after He fed over 5,000 people miraculously, Jesus taught His disciples that He is the “Bread of Life.” In this discourse, the Lord specifically references this event.
Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6:32-34)
What do you need to depend upon the Lord to provide? Will He receive the credit when the need is met? Or will he simply receive the blame if it isn’t met the way that you think it should be? What would a pattern of depending upon the Lord to meet your needs look like for you?