Text: Exodus 16:1-36, Matthew 4:1-4, John 6:22-40, 57-58
They did not remember His power shown on the day He redeemed them from the foe, when He performed His miraculous signs in Egypt and His wonders in the region of Zoan…
They didn’t remember. All the plagues and the signs and the miracles, the pushing back of the Red Sea and the crushing of their Egyptian enemies—here in the desert and in the face of great physical hunger, they’d forgotten it all.
The Israelites had grown hungry and weary after two months of desert living. So much so, they questioned their freedom altogether. Were we brought out here just to die? Maybe that whole slavery thing wasn’t as bad as we remember it? (Exodus 16:3, my paraphrase).
But God didn’t intend for their time in the desert to be a death march. He’d rescued the Israelites from captivity to restore them to Himself. He drew them out from under the yoke of oppression to draw them back into relationship with Him, knowing that only in His presence would they ever experience true freedom.
Not that they had any idea what to do with that freedom. They were now free to know and worship the one true God, but that didn’t mean they knew how (Ezekiel 20:7-8). In the meantime, did I mention they were hungry?
And God was ready to provide! He said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you” (v. 4). But He was going to provide His way:
“The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on the other days” (v. 4-5).
The Israelites had a need, and their desire to have it met wasn’t a bad thing. The problem was they were still living like slaves. With heads down and eyes trained to the ground, they set out to scavenge for food, hoarding it like orphans who had no idea when they would eat again.
God the Father wanted to provide for His children, but He also wanted them to know their Provider. He desired to commune with them, to have a meal with them, every day, and to teach them to trust Him. All the Israelites really wanted was the food.
There’s a similar scene in John 6, the day after Jesus feeds the 5,000. The crowd comes to find Him and, of course, He knows exactly why. “You are seeking me,” He says to them, “not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (John 6:26-27).
This crowd had just witnessed and experienced miracles. They had a need and Jesus had met it. Who wouldn’t want more of that? But now they wanted to make that manna rain again and on their own terms. They were so busy looking for the miracle, they forgot to stop and take notice of the One who’d performed it.
I can almost hear the longing in Jesus’ voice when He asks them to consider ALL of what He came to give us:
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.”
- John 6:35
Jesus is the bread of life, the true and better manna, rained down from heaven and in the flesh. He is God’s provision for a hungry and thirsty world. But we still forget all He’s done for us.
I wonder if Jesus thought of the Israelites and that crowd of 5000 when He chose these words at His last meal with the disciples: “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me” (Luke 22:19, NLT). I wonder if He thought of you and me, and how we would indeed struggle to remember, even when His faithfulness has never failed us.
Friends, we lack nothing in Christ Jesus. So let’s take and eat, taste and see. May we partake today, and know that Jesus will always be more than enough for all our tomorrows.
Thank you, Jesus, for Your perfect provision on the Cross. Please forgive us when we forget and please help us to remember. Teach us what it means to long for Your presence above all else and what it means to feast with You. Amen.
Kara Gause is an editor for She Reads Truth and a freelance writer happily residing in the Deep South. She’s married to one swell fella and mother to a set of delightfully spirited twin girls. Sunsets and snow cones are near and dear to her heart, as is anything or anyone who reminds her of God’s goodness.