Camping is fun for a week, but a fortnight of bad weather tries anyone’s patience. The weather, in this instance, is the fierce heat of the Desert. Supplies have dwindled, no one knows where food is coming from, or how long this enforced lifestyle is going on for, and tempers are fraying. Worst of all, these Israelites have been thrust into the hard work of living by faith – and they don’t like it (vv.2-3).
Anyone who thinks that living by faith isn’t hard most likely isn’t doing it. Faith is the call to refuse to live for our own values and with our own resources. Faith is the call to give up our lives in the conviction that God will lead, provide, and have the glory. We follow Him, He is in charge.
It’s because that rule is loving and gracious that God delights to provide for His people. They are promised miracle-food, bread from heaven (vv.4-5). Moses tells the people what God will do, and that they will see “the glory of the Lord” in this, though He assures them that God is not deaf to their grumbling (v.7), and warns them of the danger of their complaining against God (v.8). We can only wonder if worse is to come from them.
Then there is this incredible provision, as not just bread, but firstly meat is given to them, in the form of quail (v.13). This chapter focuses on the bread, the manna. We will pick out four key lessons to take hold of about God’s provision for them, as well as for us:
- Everyone has enough (vv.16-18). Moses is at pains to show us that no one is left short. Grace always gives us what we need.
- People panic that God doesn’t love them and hasn’t provided for their needs (vv.19-20). The worm of unbelief eats away at us, so we’re tempted to provide for ourselves, even when God has guaranteed His daily provision. We heap up our resources, maybe telling ourselves that we are wise and hard-working, when the truth is that we just can’t trust God. We can.
- There is more to life than working and fretting (vv.21-30). God gives us all that we need and more, and tells us to rest. Our one in seven rest is a conscious decision to trust God, and to stop toiling to provide for what He ultimately can give. Jesus is the One in Whom we find the rest from our sins, by grace. We rest and worship each Lord’s Day to keep our hearts fixed on Him, humble, trusting and thankful.
- God’s miraculous grace is there to be enjoyed, and remembered (vv.31-33). So amazing is this gift from heaven, that the Israelites are to take some to keep for later generations, as a token of God’s incredible provision for their forefathers. They must never forget this. Now we have Jesus the Bread of Life. And can we ever forget Him. He is all of the Food we need for the journey of faith. Hard and wearisome it may be, but we are feeding on the Bread of Heaven. One day we shall need no more, as we see Him, and eat with Him when all of our journeys are done.