Imagine if it was a sin to store food in our homes. If God commanded that we keep nothing in our refrigerator, cupboards or pantry.
Imagine if this were how God built our faith. He wanted us to trust that He would miraculously provide our meals each day.
Imagine if God enforced this command by supernaturally making it so any food remaining overnight would spoil and breed worms, stinking up the whole house.
This is similar to a situation God put the Israelites in anciently. The lessons of this miracle apply directly to us today.
The Manna Miracle
The Israelites had personally witnessed a series of stunning miracles as God delivered them from Egypt and into the wilderness. Still, they lacked faith. In fact, as their bellies ached with hunger, they were convinced God had brought them into the desert to kill them.
“Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (Exodus 16:4). God would provide bread—but it came with instructions. They had to gather a certain amount—and it was a test: Would they obey or not?
God providing manna—feeding a nation of millions in a desert for generations—was an amazing miracle! What can’t God do? He made miracles their daily bread!
God wants us to remember this. When we’re in the midst of a trial, it is worth spending extra time meditating about and prayer time thanking God for miracles like this. Always remember that God is a miracle maker! Nothing is too hard for God.
This miracle teaches something about how God works in our lives. Though God provided bread from heaven daily, He still required that the people gather it daily.
So often, God’s miracles require effort on our part. God likens His Word to this manna. God provides His Word and His revelation—then we have to gather it and study it. God provides His Holy Spirit—but we have to use it. God gives us strength to live His way—but we still must exercise will and choose that way.
The fact that it requires personal effort on our part doesn’t make it any less a miracle.
A Lesson in Faith
God was so particular about wanting the Israelites to gather their bread daily, He made it so the manna would spoil if kept overnight (Exodus 16:19-21). He was trying to teach them something specific and did not want them to miss the lesson.
The Israelites, being on the move in the wilderness, couldn’t grow the grains necessary for making bread. Without God’s miraculous provision, they couldn’t have had bread. But they went to bed each night without a crumb of it in their tents—not in the whole camp of Israel! And they just had to trust that God would provide more the next day. They couldn’t indulge the impulses to hoard it or to trust in their own efforts to supply their need. How difficult would that be?
God wanted them to learn to just trust Him. He was testing them—for their own good (Deuteronomy 8:2, 16). Think of the mindset and attitude it would have ingrained in the Israelites to have to rely on this miracle each day! There was no way around it. God was forcing them to grow.
Likewise, God is testing His people today. What happened to the Israelites was mostly for our benefit. That’s why it’s so important that we meditate on these lessons. We are in the wilderness, on our way to the Promised Land. God is humbling us, proving us, testing our loyalty to His commands. And here is the real lesson He is teaching us by doing so: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3). We need to live by God’s every word! We need to trust Him to provide for us—day by day.
How much do we have this attitude spiritually? How much do we depend on God to sustain us spiritually, every day? How much are we learning to just expect miracles—day after day?
Jesus Christ encouraged us to begin our prayers by praising our great miracle-making God (Matthew 6:9). This puts our mind in a faith-filled frame. Then we can pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (verse 11). This is meant to encourage in us an attitude of relying on God every day.
God only asks us to follow Him one day at a time: today. And He only offers to provide for us for today. We can’t save up our spiritual energy from one day in order to last us to the next. Of course, we build character day after day, continually adding to what we built the day before. But with each new day, we have to go back to God and ask for that day’s spiritual sustenance.
Christ specifically instructed us not to go through life full of anxieties over physical things. God promises to provide for our needs (verses 25-33). Like the Israelites, we must build faith in God’s promise. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (verse 34).
When a ship collides with something, it can seal off several watertight compartments. A man named Sir William Osler recommended living life in “day-tight compartments.” “Touch a button and hear, at every level of your life, the iron doors shutting out the past—the dead yesterdays. Touch another and shut off, with a metal curtain, the future—the unborn tomorrows. Then you are safe—safe for today! … The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes the strongest falter. … Waste of energy, mental distress, nervous worries dog the steps of a man who is anxious about the future. … Shut close, then, the great fore and aft bulkheads, and prepare to cultivate the habit of a life of ‘day-tight compartments’” (Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living).
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for the future. As Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children ….” It simply means praying each day, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Christ was advocating a day-by-day mentality. He wants us to wake up each day and determine to seek first the Kingdom—to draw near to God for the spiritual nourishment and strength we need for just this day—to gather from Him our daily bread—to rely on Him in faith for miracles day by day—and earnestly seek to make this day one that will draw us closer to that Kingdom!
Use Each Day
It is interesting that God made us to physically function in one-day chunks. Out of each 24-hour period, our bodies need several hours of sleep. Most of us do this at night, then we wake up in the morning with the sun. Then, at the end of the day, we are tired and worn out, and we go back to sleep.
Scripture refers to sleep as a symbol of death (e.g. Job 14:12; Matthew 9:24; John 11:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). In a way, each day is like a little lifetime—and God wants us to make the most of it. Each waking day He wants us to forge a relationship with Him. Each day He wants us to grow in character. Each day He wants us to learn to love others. Each day He wants us to work hard and to redeem the time, because once we fall asleep, our character development stops.
How are you and I using today? We need to ask ourselves that each day. Of course, we can’t make it on our own strength—our human nature is too strong. We must go to God for our daily bread, our daily spiritual sustenance.
Day by Day
God forced the Israelites to develop a day-by-day attitude—living by every word of God—because their physical sustenance literally depended on it. We must work to develop this habit in our daily prayer, study and meditation: the habit of drawing our spiritual sustenance from God. Jesus Christ is our spiritual manna (John 6). We take Him into our flesh and let His mind be in us.
That’s why it is so important, when we first drop to our knees in prayer, to begin by praising our miracle-making God, who alone can sustain us for that day. Then we can start taking our requests to Him, saying, I need you to provide for me here. You’re the only place I can get my daily bread, Father. I live by your words, your power.
When we’re trying to conquer a sin, we can just say, Please knock this out, because I can’t do it.
Ask God for a daily supply of His Spirit, His spiritual power. Keep coming back to Him day by day, just as the Israelites did for their spiritual meat.
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish [or, is wasting away], yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
What a wonderful lesson! Yes, our physical frame is wasting away. The body is breaking down; our physical things are falling apart. If we focus on those things, we can have a lifetime’s worth of anxiety every day.
But our inward man is renewed day by day.
Gather that spiritual manna every day. Fill yourself up with Christ—day by day. Live by faith—day by day. Praise our miracle-making God, and then expect miracles to sustain you! Every day. Day by day.