–By Elizabeth Ahlman
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:13-15 ESV).
Once again, those Israelites are grumbling and complaining. Last time it was over lack of water and bitter water at Marah, where the Lord made what was bitter sweet. This time they are complaining about lack of bread. They actually say that they wish they’d remained in Egypt to die there where they had bread to the full. So the Lord answers their complaint with bread from heaven, fine and like nothing they’d ever seen. Despite their complaining and apparent lack of faith in His plan and ability to provide, He gifts them with a bread that only He can give. Each person miraculously has just enough to eat.
Even so, the Israelites plan and calculate. They greedily collect more than they need, they try to save some for the next day just in case it doesn’t come again, they attempt to go out and gather on the Sabbath even though they’re given a double portion the day before. They forget or refuse to see that the Lord always gives enough.
We, too, have received bread from heaven. We have received the bread which came down to save all mankind. Yet we, too, despise the gift of God. We fail to attend to the Sabbath, where we receive the sweetest Bread of all, the Bread from heaven that brings us into the forgiveness of sins and life eternal. Or we try to add to it. We think that more must be necessary than merely to receive that which God has given to us through His Son. Surely we ought to add to it with our works or our fervent feelings. Obviously, the bread of heaven is not enough to feed us, so we feast on other things as well: our emotions, our experiences, our works.
When we exhaust all the other “bread” we make for ourselves, we find that it does not satisfy. It has nothing to give us. We return again to that bread which satisfies all of our hunger, which needs not our additional works or our fervent feelings, which in and of itself is always enough and more than enough. This Bread, this Jesus’ very own body and blood given and shed for us, satisfies for eternity, accomplishes that for which God has sent it, strengthens and makes whole, and never ever runs out. It is “the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Bread of Life from heaven, grant that we may always be satisfied with Your very body and blood given and shed for us, so that we may rest from our strivings and simply receive the gifts You have to give; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.