manna – a message of mercy

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.    . . .  and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.  When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was.   . . . The people of Israel called the bread manna.  It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.”  (Exodus 16:4,13-15, & 31)

Manna and mercy, what do they have in common?  Well, they are both new every morning.  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

ok, not so much the literal manna anymore but there was a time in the history of God’s people when it was manna that sustained them.  Actually the manna was God’s mercy to His people and it was new every morning.

Manna – that mysterious, miraculous, magically appearing food, called the bread of heaven.    This miracle food, manna, appeared new every morning for the Israelites as they traveled through the desert on their way to their promised land. In fact, “The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.”  (Exodus 16:35)

While manna certainly was a welcome source of sustenance and essential for their very survival, it must have been rather hard for the Israelites to live on for those forty years.  Why?  Well, not for the reason you might be thinking – boredom. No, I think it was hard for them because they had no control over the manna.  They didn’t plant it, grow it, harvest it, thresh it, or produce it in any way.  They couldn’t take credit for it.  They had to depend on God to supply their manna each morning.

Do you suppose every evening as they lay down to sleep, they wondered if the manna would be there in the morning when they woke up and worried that it might not be?  There were no guarantees.  What if God forgot?  What if He was angry with them?  Would He refuse to feed them?  We know the end of their story, but they didn’t know how it would end back then.  Their story wasn’t done, it was in the process of being written.

Now remember, God had said He would send manna every morning and He had instructed the people to gather only what they needed for that day.  They had His promise, but because they doubted Him, they disobeyed Him and gathered more than their need required.

They obviously didn’t trust the character of their God or they would not have wondered, worried or wrongfully gathered in excess of their need.  They would have known “He is faithful, even when we are unfaithful.”  (2 Timothy 2:13)         They would have known He is good and He is full of lovingkindness and mercy.  He would not let them starve there in the desert wilderness.

They gathered more manna than they needed for that day because they weren’t fully convinced that manna would appear again the next morning.  They didn’t know for sure.  They didn’t believe.  They doubted God.  They gathered too much manna and ”  . . .  they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.”  (Exodus 16:20)

God told the Israelites not to gather extra manna, but they disobeyed His instruction and found out the hard way why He had told them not to gather an excess, but just what they needed for that day.  (I wonder if this would apply to excess toilet paper as well?  just wondering . . . )

How could the Israelites doubt God after seeing the Red Sea split in two?  But they did.  Do you think twenty years in to this journey, having had manna every morning without fail, that they still lay awake at night wondering if there would be manna in the morning and worrying  that today might have been their last taste of manna?

Some of the Israelites complained, saying they had been better off in Egypt.  Even though they had been slaves in Egypt, they said they ate better there than they did now in the desert.  Did they trust Pharaoh and their Egyptian taskmasters more than they trusted their God?  –  the same God who had so recently parted the Red Sea for them, providing them safe passage and escape from their captors, the Egyptians.

Was it that they trusted Pharaoh more than God or just that they were more comfortable in their role as slaves than they were in this new desert, wilderness experience?  Now everything familiar to them was gone.  They had a decision to make.  Would they trust God or attempt to survive on their own?

We are like the Israelites in the desert right now.  So many things that are familiar to us and a part of our daily routine are gone; things have been taken away from us one by one, leaving us wondering what next?  With no jobs to go to, no churches open, no gyms, no restaurants in which to meet a friend, no sports to watch on TV, no visits with others, in order to keep them safe, we are able to get a glimpse or maybe even a clearer look at who we are when everything is stripped away.

This is not a complaint, but an acknowledgement of everyone’s current reality and the opportunity it gives us to decide in whom or in what will we trust?  The Israelites didn’t have much of a choice, they couldn’t make their own manna and therefore they experienced the mercy of God as He provided it to them new every morning.

I may have thought myself to be self-reliant, until the things I counted on were taken from me.  I am reminded that ”  . . .  in Him we(I) live and move and have our(my) being.”  (Acts 17:28)

I will say along with David, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”  (Psalm 20:7-8)

I don’t need to lay awake wondering if there will be manna in the morning, if the manna will fall to earth while I sleep.  Forty years is a pretty good track record. And God brought them safely into the promised land, as He had promised to do.

That same God is sovereign over today’s world events, just as He has always been. I can trust Him.  I don’t need to buy toilet paper in bulk.  That’s the message of the manna – God’s mercies are new every morning!  He will give me my daily bread – new every day.  That’s all He asked of the Israelites, to gather just one day’s provision.  Then trust Him again for tomorrow.

That’s all He asks of me, to trust Him with my needs for today.  And that’s how I will run this race without a finish line in these uncertain times.  I will run it by trusting my Heavenly Father for each day – one day at a time, one step at a time, one hour at a time, if necessary.   Because He knows where the finish line lies.

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”  (Isaiah 46:10)

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

sincerely,      Grace Day















One thought on “manna – a message of mercy

  1. Your thoughts make me wonder whether maybe this new normal is really an invitation to return to our first Love … the One who holds everything and everyone in His loving sovereign Hand. ❤️


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