Chapter 16:1-8 (ESV) - They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to 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 they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”
Question to consider: Why did the LORD test the Israelites with hunger?
The Israelites traveled in the wilderness of Sin on their way to Sinai where they would receive God’s law. This, of course, was to be the original trip which Moses had requested of Pharaoh. Instead of taking three days to get there, it had taken a month because of the detour down to the Red Sea to destroy Pharaoh and his chariots, the grumbling against the LORD at Marah, and the added time of refreshment at Elim.
The next test of faith came by way of hunger. Forty years from today’s passage, Moses would give an explanation to the Israelites as to God’s purpose in testing them this way, “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
During this time of testing, however, the Israelites grumbled against Moses who pointed out that in fact, they were grumbling against the LORD. In doing so, they looked upon their slavery in Egypt through the lenses of nostalgia, remembering fondly the bread and meat given to them by their oppressors. Still, the LORD heard their grumbling and promised to provide meat for them to eat and bread from heaven. He would put stipulations on this bread to take only what they needed for that day, and to gather a double portion on the 6th day so that the seventh day would be a day of rest.
As Christians, Jesus has told us to pray for daily bread. The LORD gives to us each day enough to satisfy our needs, and Christ has told us not to worry about tomorrow. If the LORD clothes the flowers and feeds the sparrows, we can trust that He will meet our needs.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for meeting our needs every day and for daily forgiving us of our sins. Help us to see Your word as vital to our life in Christ in the same way we do air, food, and water. Amen.