In Exodus 16:14-35, we read the story about God’s provision of food for the Israelites after He helped them escape from Egypt. I think you’ll be fascinated by some of the details.
Moses’ group of Israelites must have been between one and two million people. Think of a city of that size. Examples today would include: Bucharest, Caracas, Beirut, and Vienna. How much food—even conservatively—would they eat on a daily basis? With that in mind, let’s read what God did:
And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. (Manna means “what is it.”)*
God told them to collect an omer of manna for every man. (That’s quite a lot, if the experts are right. The estimates are that one omer is three liters.) Moses told them not to leave any manna until the next day. But, as human nature would have it, some of them rebelliously disobeyed. The leftover manna bred worms, and stank. Gross!
It seems the Israelites learned their lesson. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
On the day before the Sabbath, the people were to gather twice as much as on any other day, so they wouldn’t have to work on the Sabbath. They obeyed, and the manna lasted overnight and was absolutely fine for the next day. There was no manna on the ground on the Sabbath. But, some of the people went out anyhow, and God was not happy. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.
Manna was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. So, this bread from heaven was tasty and sweet, and it must have also been nutritious and filling.
Then Moses does something extremely strange, given the fact that we already know the manna melted away each day and didn’t last overnight in a good state, except on Friday nights. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations. As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. This is the omer of manna that was found in the Ark of the Covenant, along with the Ten Commandments and Aaron’s rod. This manna miraculously lasted! It was a testimony of God’s provision for the generations to come.
God fed over a million people every day for forty years! And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
There are some amazing lessons we can learn from God’s provision of manna. It was a forty-year blessing for God’s people back then, and there’s a lot we can learn from it, today.
- God wants us to learn to depend on Him daily. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prays, Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). This day. We rely on the Lord for His provision each day. As the Israelites experienced, God’s provision is there, every morning, every day. We trust Him for each day’s needs. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
- God will supply our needs, even miraculously (if we need a miracle). God provides in different ways. He might give us a job that will supply the money we need. He might burden someone else to give us a meal or a bag of foodstuffs. He could prosper our family garden by providing rain and sun. But, sometimes, our need requires a miracle. God is not limited. The psalmist David gave this testimony: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (Psalm 37:25). Hudson Taylor, George Müller, Silvia Tarniceriu, and many more servants of the Lord watched as God met their needs—even feeding hundreds of orphans—on the day the gift was needed, with gifts that took months to arrive. Notice that God stopped the manna when the Israelites began to possess the Promised Land. Their wanderings were over, and they could plant fields and pasture their cattle. Their daily miracle wasn’t needed any more.
- When God leads us, He provides. No way was God going to lead the Israelites out of Egypt just to let them die in the desert! That isn’t His nature. The same principle applies to us, too. If God has called you, He will provide. When we are His people through faith, He will meet our needs. Because we are His children through faith, Our Heavenly Father delights in supplying what we need. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:24)
- Ultimately, God’s powerful provision—for the Israelites then, and for us today—brings glory to God Himself. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot. Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 29:5-6). God miraculously provided food for over a million people and caused their clothes to last forty years! If God could do that (no problem!), don’t you think we can trust Him to take care of us? Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27)
We can fully depend on God. What a blessing!