We now follow the Israelites as they travel through the wilderness to their next destination of Mount Sinai. How sad that after such a magnificent display of God’s miraculous power just a few weeks earlier, the people still question God’s provision and care for their lives:
There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (Exodus 16:2-3, NLT)
Notice that when the Hebrews allow fear to take control, they begin to engage in three very bad patterns of irrational thinking: 1.) They selectively and incompletely remember the past. They forget how bitter their bondage was in Egypt, and they grossly embellish their comforts during their time of slavery. 2.) They begin to question their leaders’ motives and accuse them of malicious intent. 3.) Although they had not actually begun to experience the effects of starvation, they anticipate and exaggerate the worst-case-scenario.
We, too, can fall into these traps of fear-based thinking if we are not careful. Fortunately, we can stand in the assurance that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Notice that each of these three things act as combatants of fear: 1.) Power – we don’t need to fear because we have God’s indomitable power on our side! 2.) Love – I once heard it said that the antithesis of fear isn’t courage, but love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18). And 3.) a sound mind. So much of fear is irrational. God is willing and ready to help us declutter our minds and engage in sound thinking so that we can dispel the confusion and anxiety that comes from fear.
The LORD then promises to give His children bread to satisfy their needs. The next morning, the Hebrews wake to the sight of a flaky, frost-like substance covering the ground. “Manna? What is it?” they quizzically ask. Moses explains God’s miraculous provision for His people and gives the people instruction for how to gather the bread on a daily basis.
“Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat” (Exodus 16:16, ESV). There are a number of spiritual lessons that we can draw from manna. It was to be gathered for each individual, daily. Likewise, we must, each one of us for ourselves, daily feast on the Word of God. “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12, NIV). Each day, we are invited into the very Presence of the true Bread of Life. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). It’s a free invitation! God is once again offering His children the manna from heaven — He’s offering Himself. And it’s an offer that stands fresh every morning. We need simply come.
Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever… This hourly dependence our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that “as our days our strength shall be.” Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne, and constantly be reminded of His love? Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so continually, and doth not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases, the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our habitation. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Thy feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without Thee, and in every favour which we are privileged to receive, we would adore Thy blessed name and acknowledge Thine unexhausted love. (Charles Spurgeon)