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Daily bread

And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the people’s complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” — Exodus 16:11-12

There can be few sights more pitiful than that of starving children with distended bellies held in the arms of emaciated mothers whose sores are filled with flies. Through the medium of television, most people are familiar with such images, even if they have never traveled in regions afflicted by famine.

It should not be difficult to imagine the fear that gripped the hearts of the Israelites as, one month into their wilderness march, they realized that they had no visible source of food. Famine stared them in the face. Understandably, they turned on Moses and told him, “Oh, that we were back in Egypt… It would have been better if the Lord had killed us there! At least there we had plenty to eat” (Exodus 16:3).

Moses, quite rightly, was able to point out that it was not his fault that they were in such a perilous predicament. He had not wanted the job of bringing them into the wilderness. It was God’s idea, so if anyone should be blamed it was the Lord!

But at the same time, if God had brought them out of Egypt, presumably He had plans to care for them in the wilderness. This was the case, and the Lord said, “Look, I am going to rain down food from heaven for you” (16:4). He gave the people details about the daily supply, including specific instructions about gathering and storing the strange food.

The Israelites called it “manna,” which means “what is it?” And even 40 years later they still didn’t know what it was!

The Lord intended to supply what they needed on a daily basis. So they were to trust Him to do that by collecting only one day’s food at a time and trusting Him to provide double the amount on the eve of Sabbath, so they would not need to collect any on the day of rest. “But, of course, some of them didn’t listen” (16:20). They thought they knew better, and they missed the opportunity to trust God.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He included in the list of legitimate petitions, “Give us our food for today” (Matthew 6:11). Jesus reminded His disciples that God can be trusted to give us what we need when we need it. He does not guarantee to meet our wants. He meets our needs!

God does not promise a stocked fridge—just today’s food. Daily we learn to trust and we discover contentment.

But sadly, if, like the Israelites, we don’t listen, our manna may turn to maggots (Exodus 16:20).

For further study: Exodus 16:1-36

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.