By Melissa McLaughlin
The good news? I am a minimalist.
This means, I actually enjoy cleaning out and donating unused items, reducing clutter and simplifying my surroundings and life. For me, less is truly more.
The bad news? I am surrounded by a long line of collectors.
This means, most of my family actually enjoys finding, purchasing and saving assorted “treasures”. From album collections, to eraser collections, to pencil collections, to cat collections, to hat collections, to sports memorabilia collections, to coin-operated plastic toy collections, to book collections, to rock collections, to shell collections, to sea glass collections, to bottle collections, to, to, to… The list goes on. In their case, less is just that, less.
My guess is that God knew somehow we would be good for each other – the minimalists and the collectors. I keep them from being buried in collections. They keep me from selling the rug out from under my own feet!
Interestingly, the Bible also contains some ardent collectors. God’s people, the Israelites, went through a long period of collecting. However, it wasn’t a collection for hobby, beauty or enjoyment. It was a collection for survival.
What were the Israelites collecting? Manna.
Day after day, after day, after day. Collecting manna. In fact, their very lives depended on it!
The account of this Bible story begins shortly after God has set His people free from Egyptian slavery employing Moses as their leader to aid them in crossing the Red Sea. The adventure picks up here in Exodus 16.
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.”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses,“I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
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. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”
On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.
Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)
What an incredible answer to prayer! The people cry out to God in hunger and God Himself feeds the people with the bread of heaven! The manna fell with the nighttime dew and was ready each morning for gathering. God commanded the people to gather it, each one, an omer (around 2 liters) per person, per day.
God provided just enough, for each person, one day at a time. The people called it “manna” which in Hebrew means “What is it?” However, God called it bread from heaven. Manna could be collected each morning, before it melted in the hot sun, in appearance like small coriander seeds, but white in color. The fine flakes appeared as white frost on the ground, yet when gathered up tasted like wafers with honey.
Try to pause for a moment and imagine the early morning hours with each person gathering his or her own manna flakes as the sun rose on the horizon.
The old gather.
The young gather.
The weak gather.
The strong gather.
Each one collecting bread for today.
Each one gathering strength for just one more day of life.
Each one picking up their daily provision to simply survive until tomorrow when the bread would fall again.
Each one gets just enough for today, just today.
Imagine taking your children out, each with their own container to gather their own food. The older helping the younger. Some may gather quickly. Others may need more time. Each one collecting.
Next imagine each person eating their own food. After collecting, the people ground the manna into flour to make cakes, perhaps something like a pancake.
Only on the day before the Sabbath could the people gather a double portion to have food enough for both days, so that no one need work on the Sabbath. Anyone who gathered extra, would otherwise find it wormy and spoiled with a bad smell.
What was God teaching through His provision of bread from heaven?
First, we need to depend on Him for every part of our lives every day. What we have collected of His presence and His Word from yesterday will not be enough to nourish us for tomorrow.
When we go to Him and follow His commands, He will provide. God can be trusted, but He does not earn our trust by giving us great storehouses and shining the light far up ahead into the future. He helps us trust Him in a deeper way by supplying for us in the here and now so we learn to rely on Him one day at time. Today and tomorrow and the next day and the next.
He is also teaching us that each person must go to Him for themselves. We must collect our bread from Him and be nourished by Him ourselves. I cannot eat for you. You cannot eat for me. Each person must seek Him and experience Him for themselves in order to be filled, nourished and strengthened.
Another lesson found here leads us to Christ. As is so often the case, the Old Testament grants a foreshadow of things to come. For in the New Testament, Jesus, becomes our spiritual manna, our daily bread.
John 6:32-35 – Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
What constitutes daily bread for us today?
1.Reading the Bible, God’s Word, and allowing the eternal truth of God to fill our empty, hungry souls.
2.Spending time in prayer, filling our earthly spirits with a heavenly feast found only in talking and communing with Him.
3.Offering praise and thanksgiving to the Lord Jesus through words and songs to keep our minds remembering the provision God has already placed before us at His table of righteousness, mercy, grace, love and truth.
What lesson can we embrace for ourselves as we consider the lessons of manna?
1.Each person must come to God for themselves.
2.Each person must collect their own daily bread, every single day.
3.The bread you collected yesterday will not nourish today.
4.Jesus is our true nourishment, greater than life itself.
For some who have been growing in their faith in Christ for a long time, these suggestions are well known. However, even the most faith-filled long-time follower sometimes needs encouragement to gather the daily manna for today.
If you find yourself struggling, sluggish or slow to draw near God for your spiritual food, here are a few suggestions:
1.Try turning on worship music that will help bring your mind and heart to a state of worship. Let your personal time with God flow from there.
2.Try listening to an audio version of the Bible.
3.Call a Godly friend and ask them to pray aloud with you.
4.Last but certainly not least… ask God to give you the desire to desire Him. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of all who believe. Invite the Holy Spirit to move in your life.
If you pray, over and over, day after day, asking God to give you the desire to desire Him, He WILL answer that prayer. Guaranteed. For His eyes are scanning the whole earth looking for those who will be committed to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9) He is waiting for you to turn to Him. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you! (James 4:8)
What helps you continue seeking the Lord day after day?
Whether you are a natural-born collector or a minimalist like me, when you use your life, breath and strength to collect the things of God, your heart will be enlarged, your collection of love, grace and truth will shine with heavenly brilliance and at the same time your earthly load will be lightened. He fills the collector and the minimalist in just the right way, each receiving just what they need.
Feeling hungry? Time to gather today’s installment of Jesus, our daily bread! For our eternal life depends on it!