When God gives you "what-is-it's?"

Two and a half months later from my last post, Israel has forgotten and their stomachs are growling.
"Would that we had died by the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger" - Exodus 16:3
 What happened there? Israel was in slavery crying out for deliverance not sitting by pots of meat and eating bread to the full. From experience, the only logical conclusion from what they know of God would be that He will provide. This was after He miraculously delivered them and gave them water. Yet somehow, they end up with the conclusion that God is evilly smiling in pleasure as He kills them all with hunger. Since that makes perfect sense.

It's easy for us to laugh at Israel. We just flip back three verses to God miraculously providing drinkable water or flip forward a few verses to God providing manna. What a bunch of thick-headed grumblers, we say as we chuckle at Israel's unbelief, aren't they lucky God didn't just strike them all down dead!

God's response is manna. We all know this story by heart:
"I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them whether or not they will walk in My instruction." - Exodus 16:4
Did you ever really think why God responded like this here? My first reaction was, testing - why testing? Then my second response was - God gave them manna. Wouldn't His first response be chastising them for their griping? Or at least giving a five chapter oration on why He deserved their belief and gratitude? But what does He do? He gives them what they need: food. Before He punishes He gives what they cannot do without: food. He responds like a father - doing anything to provide for the basic necessities of life for his children. He further responds as a Father by not letting them get away with their rotten attitude - so He gives them a test - not to punish them but so that they would  "know that I am the LORD your God" (vs 12). God was intent on teaching this group of gripers about Himself - even if it took forever!

"Moses said to them, "let no man leave any of it until morning." But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them." - Exodus 16:19-20
Israel had been a little skeptical about the manna. God proved His faithfulness first by the quails in the evening - but when morning came Israel ignored His promise, looked at the weird white flakes on the ground and asked, "what is it?" Well, duh! It's food - God promised! Some were still apprehensive, and in fear lest the food never came again, they ignored Moses' command and kept it until morning. They were still faithless. After a while, God kept feeding them and their faith increased. Until:

"Moses said, "eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none." It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?" - Exodus 16:25-28
 The sabbath was not only a day of rest - but of remembrance. Considering how much Israel put food before God, I'd say the sabbath was pretty beneficial for their remembering. However, even some stomachs came before obedience and they doggedly went out in the morning for their daily bread.

The end of the story isn't very encouraging. Israel has been eating manna forty years (forty years dependent on God's faithful providing) when another thirsty spell comes along. They've been receiving food forever (it seems), and God had provided water in the past. First response? "Is God with us or not?" Utter. Despair. A facepalm moment for the reader who guffaws in laughter at their stupidity. Hello!!?!? God has fed them despite their grumbling for FORTY YEARS!!

Oh, the hilarity of it all. Simply frustrating -- poor God, stuck with these people.

Look at us:

Enslaved in sin (it wasn't pretty, was it?), God's miraculous deliverance (I mean, Jesus took God's wrath for you - as if that's not pretty epic!), our joy (thank you, Father!), and then:

The wilderness. Something goes wrong. God doesn't answer prayer - why is this happening in my life? Well, ho-hum so much for God, He just doesn't listen, just doesn't answer, just doesn't care.

God provides - but not the way we expect. What's this? Is this what you call an answer to prayer? Manna?!? (literally meaning: what is it?)

But God provides through our emotional roller coaster of ups and down ("Thank you Lord!" "God why have you forsaken me?") and we have evidence of His working in our lives (admit it, you do - if salvation isn't enough evidence of God's love and care you need to fix that) and yet...

Manna? Again? Thirst - again? God don't you care?

Of course He does - He's been teaching you that ever since day one. Keep listening, keep living, keep believing - keep trusting.

Because He's faithful.


  1. I have had a bad day and week, and this is just what I needed. I don't understand why the Lord is allowing all these things to happen in my life, but He can a purpose. God doesn't always answer prayers the way I want Him to, but the way that He sees fit.
    Thanks for sharing! :)


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Maira Gall