Devotions on Exodus 16:1-18–Manna from Heaven
October 2-8, 2017
Monday, October 2, 2017–Manna from Heaven
“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron” (Exodus 16:2)
The words to an old, popular hymn chorus are, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and you’ll be surprised at what the Lord has done.” The gift of memory is a great tool for use in our lives of faith. The Psalmist understands this when he instructs the Israelites (hundreds of years after the Exodus) to remember the works of the Lord and that the “steadfast love of the Lord endures forever (Psalm 136). When we look back on our walk with the Lord, we can see the movement of the Lord more clearly than we usually can in our present circumstances or our future challenges.
Their lack of historical recall was a major cause of the Israelite’s complaints. They didn’t remember how Moses and Aaron had faithfully led them and cared for them. Nor did they remember how the Lord had powerfully moved to “persuade” the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from their captivity. The Israelites were only aware of the growling stomachs, gnawing hunger, and the panorama of the empty wilderness around them.
It is easy to complain. Things aren’t going our way. Our leaders appear to be powerless to keep their promises and to make positive changes in our lives. Our complaints become more strident when we realize that God’s timing is certainly not our timing. At such time, it is always good to pause and begin to count our blessings and see what God has done. When we do this, we often discover that our complaints turn into praise.
Forgive our lack of historical perspective and our constant complaints, Lord. Refresh our memories so that our complaints are turned into praise. Amen.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017–Manna from Heaven
“When we set by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread” (Exodus 16:3).
Grandpa Meyer was Skyping with his grandsons Skylar and Topher. They were telling Grandpa Meyer what life was like as a high school freshman and junior. Along with class assignments and sports expectations, they mentioned that a group of their classmates had been caught in a sexting ring. Two days earlier their school had gone through a lock down drill to simulate what would happen if a shooter appeared on campus.
Grandpa Meyer interrupted the boys recitation by saying, “It sure makes me long for the good old days.” “But Grandpa,” Skylar replied, “Didn’t you have duck and cover drills because of the threat of nuclear war?” “You had segregation and the fight for civil rights, the Vietnam War and the anti-war protests,” added Topher. You didn’t have computers and you certainly couldn’t Skype with your grandparents like we do with you and Grandma.” After a few moments of silence, Grandpa Meyer said, “Well, I guess you two are right. The good old days weren’t really that good after all. We had our own set of problems.”
Every age has its own challenges and blessings. God has been faithful through them all, just as God will be faithful today and in the days ahead.
Thank you, Lord, that you are the same yesterday, today and forever. Amen.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017–Manna from Heaven
“‘I’m going to rain bread from heaven for you’” (Exodus 16:4a).
On his birthday, Dudley Dursley, Harry Potter’s muggle cousin, is heard to say, “Thirty-six presents—only thirty-six presents!” Clearly Dudley did not recognize abundance when he saw it and neither do we.
Our God, however, is a God of abundance. God did not promise to sprinkle or drizzle bread from heaven upon the Israelites. No indeed! God promised a good rain—a forty year soaker. Quail flew into the Israelites’ camp and provided an abundance of meat. Manna appeared on the ground each morning and provided their bread. No one had too much and neither did anyone not have enough. There was true abundance.
As followers of Jesus, we are tempted to look at our lives—our home, job, family, friends and possessions and say to ourselves, “This is all there is, but we want more!” We may compare ourselves with others and say, “They have more than we do, we want (and deserve) more.” When we do this, we fail to see the abundance that we have. We have shelter, food and clothing. Also, we have a job where we can use our talents and serve God. We have family and, though we may not be the most charismatic, popular people, we have friends. Our God is a God of abundance, and we reflect that abundance every day of our lives.
Lord, you pour your blessings into our laps. You shake them, press them down and allow them to overflow. Thank you. Amen.
Thursday, October 5, 2017–Manna from Heaven
“‘In that way I will test them whether they will follow my instructions or not’” (Exodus 16:4b).
The Israelites were in a quandary. They had enough an abundance of manna, however, they were only supposed to gather enough for one day. They knew that they had sufficient supplies for the day, but there was no guarantee (except for God’s promise) that they would have enough for tomorrow. Though it would have been against God’s command, it was very tempting to lay aside a little more manna than they needed—just in case.
Faith has a shelf life of less than a day. God provided for us yesterday. At times, God may have even provided for us miraculously. We wonder, still, if God will do the same today. In the past, God enabled us to face the challenges that confronted us and gave us the strength to overcome them. We know that we will have trials and tribulations today and we question whether or not God will walk with us through them.
We do not need to wonder. God is true to God’s promises. We can rest in God’s steadfast love and place our hope in God. Today God will keep the promises that God has made.
Today, Lord, enable us to live boldly knowing that you will be a part of our lives just as you have been in the
Friday, October 6, 2017–Manna from Heaven
“‘In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 16:7).
Louisa emerged from the eye doctor’s office with a prescription. Louisa needed glasses. Stopping by the local eyeglass shop, Louisa selected a pair of frames. After an hour, she returned and tried on her new glasses. Louisa was amazed at how clearly she could see and how much more she could see. Many things had escaped her notice because of her limited vision.
As followers of Jesus, it is necessary for us to view life through the lens of faith. If we don’t, we don’t see and are unable to appreciate what God is doing. That evening, after God promised to feed the Israelites, quail flew into the Israelites’ camp. The Israelites didn’t need to hunt the birds. They simply needed to pick them up off the ground. Without the lens of faith, some people might have said, “My isn’t this a coincidence that all these quail landed in our camp.” Those who looked through the lens of faith saw God’s hand in what had happened. They did not respond with wonder, but with praise.
Open our eyes, Lord, so that we can see the signs that you are with us and that you are moving in our world. Amen.
Saturday, October 7, 2017–Manna from Heaven
“It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:15).
Bread comes in many shapes and sizes and can be made from several different grains, like wheat and rye. Every nation, culture and tribe has its own style of bread, such as pita bread, tortillas and lefsa. Bread is so common that the term “bread” can be used to refer to all food or a meal: “We sat down and broke bread together.” When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we use the word, “bread” as a reference to the necessities of life: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
That first morning, when the manna appeared, they wondered what it was. Moses didn’t reply by telling them what is was made from or how it came to be. Instead, Moses simply said that it was bread that the Lord had given them. Every morning the Israelites were reminded that God had given them everything that they needed to sustain them for the day.
The manna of our lives is more than a white substance that is found on the desert ground. Our manna is the job that provides us with the food we eat. Our manna is also the people with whom we sit at the table and eat. Manna is also the bread and wine/body and blood we receive during Holy Communion. All of the manna, which is a part of our lives, is a gift from the Lord.
O Bread of Life, thank you that you nourish us so that we need never to hunger again. Amen.
Sunday, October 8, 2017–Manna from Heaven
“But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage” (Exodus 16:18).
Forty acres of the Anderson farm were woods. In those woods were several wild blueberry patches that produced some of the most succulent blueberries this side of heaven. They were well worth the scores of mosquito, deer fly bites and sore knees and backs it took to pick them.
Every summer, the Anderson clan would gather—everyone from grandpa and grandma to the youngest great grandchild. Everyone grabbed buckets and then spread out to harvest the berries. Three year-old Andrea only picked a few cups of berries—and ate several. Daughter, Stephanie was the picking champ having picked three overflowing buckets. No matter how much they picked, they poured all of the berries into a common container. From the gathering, all of the Andersons would enjoy blueberries and cream, blueberry pie, pancakes, muffins and blueberry preserves. No one went hungry.
Israelites young and old went out every morning to gather the manna. Some gathered a lot. The old, infirm and young only gathered a little. When the manna had been harvested, all the people came together. Every person received a measure of the harvest. No one had too much, nor did anyone lack. Theirs was a picture of what a community and the kingdom of God was to be like—out of the abundance there was the opportunity to share and the ability to meet everyone’s needs.
Lord, enable our hearts and hands to be open, so that everyone can experience your blessings and no one lack any good thing. Amen.