By Dr. Charles Stanley
Have you ever doubted the Lord could supply your needs? Maybe your circumstances seemed so desperate that you lost hope. That’s what happened to the Israelites after escaping Egyptian slavery. They were free but stranded in the desert. As their food ran out, they started to worry and complain. But the Lord had not led them out of Egypt to perish in the wilderness. As Life Principle #11 says, God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him.
Manna in the Wilderness
- Describe the people’s response to their hunger (vv. 1-3).
- The Lord said, “I will rain bread from heaven” (v. 4). How did the manna come (Ex. 16:13-14)?
- What purposes did God have for giving it (Ex. 16:4; Deut. 8:3)?
The people didn’t know what manna was at first. The Holman Bible Dictionary says the name for it may have come from the Hebrew for “What is it?”—ma hu.
- Describe manna (Ex. 16:14, 31).
- Numbers 11:7 says that manna was white like coriander seed, and looked like bdellium, a type of resin. List some things the Israelites could make with it (Num. 11:8).
Some people think the appearance of manna has a natural explanation. Insects who feed on the resin of the tamarisk bush secrete a substance similar to manna. It can be processed into a honey-like syrup and spread on bread. The Israelites, so the reasoning goes, only thought it was miraculous since they were unfamiliar with the desert. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary explains the problems with that theory: 1) manna appeared on the ground—everywhere—not just near the tamarisk bush; 2) it fell year-round, not simply for a few months; 3) it ceased on the Sabbath; 4) the amount of supernatural manna produced daily far exceeded the amount the bushes are known to produce yearly, and 4) it was nutritious enough to be made into bread—not merely used as a condiment.
- Each person was supposed to have an omer of manna (a unit of measure possibly equal to roughly two quarts). What happened when that guideline was followed (Ex. 16:18)?
- How was the day before the Sabbath different (vv. 22-26)?
- Aside from testing their obedience, what purpose did God have for giving them two days’ worth of manna (v. 30)?
- The miraculous provision continued for 40 years (v. 35). Why does it make sense that the supply ceased when it did (Josh. 5:12)?
The people doubted the Lord would provide food for them in the wilderness. Their bitter attitude shows that they expected to die, not to be saved (Ex. 16:3). Yet the Almighty “rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them food from heaven” (Ps. 78:24).
- What do you have trouble trusting God to provide?
The One who created food out of thin air has abundant resources to supply your need too (Ps. 50:10).
Through the years, manna came to represent God’s miraculous daily provision to the Hebrew people. Its physical benefits foreshadowed the type of spiritual and emotional blessings the Messiah would bring.
- Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). What did He mean?
After some time, the Israelites grew tired of manna. They remembered the variety of foods available to them in Egypt (Num. 11:5-6) but conveniently forgot they were slaves at the time.
- What blessings do you take for granted?
- Think about your life five, ten, or twenty years ago. What do you need to remember about how far God has brought you?
Notice that the Lord supplied manna, but the people had a job to do as well. They had to gather and prepare it (Num. 11:8).
- In the challenge(s) you face, what are your responsibilities? What do you have to trust God to accomplish?
- What principle do you find in Exodus 16:16-18 and 2 Corinthians 8:14-15? How does it relate to your life?
The manna spoiled if God’s people tried to gather a surplus (Ex. 16:19-20). A similar principle is found in Matthew 6:11, where Jesus instructs His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
- Why did Christ tell His followers not to worry about the future (Matt. 6:25-34)?
- How does verse 34 apply to your life?
In Exodus 16:32-34, God instructs the people to keep an omer of manna in the ark of the covenant as a remembrance of this miraculous provision.
- How do you remind yourself of all the Lord has done for you?
Prayer: Specifically thank the Father for what He has provided—especially things you take for granted. Instead of worrying, fulfill your responsibilities, and then release every concern to Him. The Lord will provide all you need.Throughout Scripture, the Lord promises to provide for the faithful. And as Life Principle #11 says, God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him.
Throughout Scripture, God promises the faithful that He will provide for them. Story after story demonstrates the Father's amazing ability to satisfy His children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. (Watch His Promise to Provide.)