Almost every parent has heard that it’s best not to give a whining child what he wants, because it will just reinforce the whining behavior. And almost every parent has had one of those days, when it feels like the battle will never end and it’s easier to just give in to the demanding little tyrant in order to get a break from the grumbling.
Parents who are exasperated with their stubborn children can likely relate to the way God interacts with His people as He led them from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land. As we spend the next several days looking at "bread from heaven," we’ll start by noting how God sent manna in response to the grumbling and whining of His people in the desert.
Today’s reading occurs right after the stunning miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea, the destruction of Pharaoh’s forces, and the praise choruses led by Moses and Miriam (Exodus 14–15). Almost immediately, though, the people complained about their perceived hardship and declared that they preferred slavery in Egypt to following God in the desert (v. 3). The Lord responded with a promise to provide bread from heaven—in part for physical sustenance, but also as a spiritual test of their obedience (v. 4). Would the people follow His commands about how much bread to gather and keep?
Unfortunately, not everyone did obey (vv. 20, 27). Despite this miraculous gift of bread that always provided enough, some people tried to hoard it. Others refused to trust that their double portion on the Sabbath would remain fresh as God has promised. The people still did not see that God wanted a relationship with them in which He met their needs and they acknowledged His sovereignty with loving obedience.
Apply the Word
The truth is that we all struggle to acknowledge God as the provider and giver of good gifts. Read and meditate on this verse throughout the day: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). Practice giving thanks today for all of God’s gifts to you.