What does manna mean? What did it mean for the millions of Israelites who were camped on the other side of the sea they’d just walked through?
I read Moses’ story about his journey with the newly emancipated slaves. There they were, out in the wilderness with no water, breakfast, or dinner. The whole lot of them looked back at Egypt with their short-sighted eyes…and complained. So God sent quails for their dinner, and some unusual sun-intolerant material for their breakfast. They had no idea what it was, so when someone asked curiously, ‘What is it?’, that became its name – manna! However, without Moses’ direct link to God, they would never have known what to do with it.
How often have I missed a miraculous provision that would last me through until my next meal? Have I misunderstood what I’ve found lying around; something that would bless me more than I expected? As for my breakfast, most times I forget about it as the food goes on its way to feed my body. And so it can be when I read my Bible, and I grasp any ‘new’ inspiration with delight. I even write it down, then go on my way, until God brings more ‘meat’ along! I’ve heard it’s a good idea to leave our Bibles open on the table after we’ve read them, and to take an occasional peep at the open book to remind ourselves of the Lord’s revelation. This will fuse it into our minds and spirits.
As you can now guess, this morning I read about manna! The story was that the Israelites were disappointed with their liberated state and couldn’t see how the same God, who’d parted the sea for them, could do even more. Did they think he’d run out of miracles?
Breakfast can seem boring and I always have a program ready for my day, with a list of tasks written out the night before. I’m eager to get on with it, but when I’m waiting for God to hand me something special from my Bible reading, that moment is anything but humdrum. It mightn’t be earth-shakingly dramatic, but then, it might be! And what if I miss it?
Hymn-writers have used manna in many of their compositions. It’s food for our spirits and ‘manna to our hungry souls’. So what has God shown me about myself from this; the way he communicates with me about himself, and what I should do with it all? He’d already told Moses that the manna was coming, with instructions on how to collect it and the amount for each person, how to store it, and when to refrain from gathering it. I could see that this story was filled with information I could put into practice in my life.
First, I’d need to keep my eyes peeled for the manna. No use forgetting that God was going to send it – that’s automatically eliminating ‘breakfast’. Then I’d have to tune in to the Lord’s way of seeing it, which means following the instructions he’s already given me for its use. No purpose in making up my own ideas; that means trouble! And finally, I’ll need to allow God to use the manna to nourish my relationship with him – my heavenly Father. That takes trust in him.
It’s amazing how old, well-known scriptures can be fresh every day. This shows God’s faithfulness. And the Sabbath, always a day off, wasn’t for collecting manna! It was to be a time to worship God and rest in his presence. Now that’s more than enough for starters, don’t you think?!