In a recent conversation with my husband one morning, while we were discussing what to fix for dinner, the thought never occurred to me that there would be no food to fix that evening. Despite food stuff in my cabinet and freezer, I knew that a quick trip to the store would surely provide items that I could turn in to a tasty meal. But what if there were no pantry staples, no meats, or no fresh fruits or vegetables in my fridge? What if I had no money to buy items at the store, or there were no stores around, and all my neighbors or friends also had no food to eat or share? Sounds almost like a plot for an apocalypse movie, where mankind has suffered a crisis, and the modern conveniences we once took for granted were gone. Now also imagine that everything you own, you must carry on your back. Men, women, children…….no one is spared from this hardship. And you are told this is for your salvation, as a means to end suffering and save your people. After walking for a few days, with very little food, would you grumble and complain? This is just what the Israelites did in Exodus 16:2-15:
“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining against the LORD. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LORD has heard the complaining that you utter against him–what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the LORD.” Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.'” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'” In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”
Kind of an ungrateful lot, them Israelites! They were led out of Egypt, so they would be saved. And here they are complaining because they don’t have enough to eat. Are we not the same though? How many of us go about our day, whining and complaining over something which turns out to be minor? I know that I do, until I stop and realize how many blessings there are in my life. So, did Moses’ people stop, and praise the Lord for all they have to be grateful for? No, just the opposite. They whined to Moses, saying maybe it would have been better to stay in Egypt, where at least they had food. But our Father, in His infinite mercy, heard their complaints and told Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.”. So though the people did not bring their petitions to the Lord, he heard their cries and provided food enough for them to eat, but only for one day. Why just the one day? To test the Israelites, to see if they were ready to follow and obey His commandments. So the Lord sent birds in the evening, and manna in the morning,
“In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.””
So why did God test these people? Remember when you were in school? What was the most dreaded part of your day? I’m guessing for many of you, it was knowing you had a test that day. For me, I always detested having a pop quiz. You know that test that teachers like to randomly give you, with no warning and thus no way to study and prepare for. Well, this is what the Lord is doing for the people Moses led out of Egypt. He gave them a pop quiz……a test of faith. How many of us could have passed that test? If we go back to the movie scenario, and you find yourself wandering in the wilderness, no food, very little water, and the only things you own you carry on your back, would you complain to each other, or would you have a strong enough faith to seek help from the Lord?
Every day of your life is a pop quiz from God! We wake in the morning, some with an agenda set in stone, others with a more flexible schedule. And because we are human, inevitably there are going to be problems and issues that trouble our day. How do we handle these perplexing problems? We could complain to a co-worker, a friend (I do this one quite a lot), or a family member, or…….we could take our worries and troubles to the Lord in prayer. We may not be wandering in the wilderness, but we are still our Father’s children. He will take care of us, if we only have the courage to ask.