The first (and last) cheese soufflé I ever baked caved in like a ton of bricks right before my very eyes as I watched it trying to bake. It was nothing more than a glop of petrified cheese in a fancy soufflé pan. Even the best chefs in the world could not have identified what it was. It’s not the first unidentifiable food I’ve prepared, but it was contained in a pan, and I knew exactly what it was made of because the recipe was right in front of me. If I would have been more attentive to the baking process and maybe not accidentally slammed the oven door shut when I checked it for the fifteenth time before it finished baking, it would have been a beautiful, impressive work of baking art.
After whining and complaining of hunger as they traipsed through wilderness lands in pursuit of reaching God’s Promised Land, the Israelites were puzzled one morning when a strange white substance coated the ground. The Lord was providing food for them, but it was new and unidentifiable. The account of the mysterious “corn of heaven and bread of the mighty” is in Exodus 16:11-31. Verses 11-16 reads as follows: And the LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the people's complaints. Now tell them, 'In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'” That evening vast numbers of quail arrived and covered the camp. The next morning the desert all around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew disappeared later in the morning, thin flakes, white like frost, covered the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. "What is it?" they asked. And Moses told them, "It is the food the LORD has given you. The LORD says that each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person."…In time, the food became known as manna. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey cakes.
“What Is It?” became the first “angels’ food,” as some Bible teachers say. Yet He gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; He rained down manna for the people to eat, He gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat. (Psalm 78:23-25 NIV). Manna is a type of Jesus, who declared in John 6:35 (NIV), "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.”
Manna wasn’t exactly what the Israelites had in mind as their bellies growled and their appetites longed for the foods they were accustomed to in Egypt. They had enjoyed a Passover meal before they left Egypt and packed provisions for their journey, including livestock. It is unknown how much of the livestock they were allowed to eat because many of the animals were used for sacrifices. Approximately seventy-five days into their journey through the wilderness, supplies were depleted and the grumbling started. Consider that 1.5 to 2 million people were sorely missing their moms’ home cooking, and the responsibility to provide food rested on Moses’ shoulders.
But did it? Even as the mass of humanity pushed on through the wilderness, God had a plan for their provision. He always does. He was teaching the people to trust in Him, one day at a time. He gave very specific instructions on how much manna to gather and when not to gather it. Exodus 16:17-19 says, so the people of Israel went out and gathered this food — some getting more, and some getting less. By gathering two quarts for each person, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. Then Moses told them, "Do not keep any of it overnight." But, of course, some of them didn't listen and kept some of it until morning. By then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. And Moses was very angry with them.
Some people just can’t follow a recipe or instructions, like me and that pathetic cheese soufflé. Jesus said, in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” There is natural bread that we need to nourish our bodies, and there is spiritual bread that nourishes our soul and helps us grow and be productive in the Body of Christ. The Word of God is the manna that nourishes our soul. We need it every day.
As for the natural bread, if we’re not careful, we can become like the Israelites who gathered too much manna. Timothy warns us in 1 Timothy 6:7-10 (NLT), after all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
Hoarding is not a pretty sight. Like many other sins, fear is often at the root of a hoarder’s motivation to stockpile food and supplies. A lack of trust in God’s ability to provide is what drives a hoarder to “get all he can, and can all he gets,” just as the Israelites did. Whether there’s a roomful of toilet paper from floor to ceiling at home, or a ten-year supply of peanut butter in the pantry, our supply of “manna” should be exactly what the Lord gives us, not what our flesh urges us to frantically stash away. Our pantries should be as full of “What Is It?” as the Lord dictates, not the government or a frightened, frenzied family member or friend. Above all, our supply of spiritual manna—the Word of God-- should be fresh every day. The Lord will give you exactly what you need from His Word—just ask Him. For He satisfies the thirsty and FILLS the hungry with good things, (Psalm 107:9).
© 2021, Chris Werre