DEUTERONOMY 8:3: “Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Is there a reason for the times of wilderness wandering in our life? Why does God allow us to go through prolonged periods of testing? How should I respond when I find myself in these difficult times? How does the lesson of manna speak to these questions?
The children of Israel were slaves in the land of Egypt. They were ruled by cruel taskmasters and forced to do heavy labor. They cried out to the Lord for His deliverance. God did deliver them but then it seemed like they went from the fire into the frying pan. At least when they were slaves in Egypt they had plenty to eat!
Hungry, thirsty, and alone in a desert land, the children of Israel began to grumble and complain. They began to long for the leeks and onions they had enjoyed in Egypt. They cried out for food and the Lord heard their cry. He provided them with a miraculous food – manna from heaven!
- “The Israelites called the food manna. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers.” Exodus 16:31 NLT
Six days a week the Lord would provide manna for the children of Israel. They would rise each morning and it would be covering the ground like dew. They were to gather up only what they needed and not leave any until the next morning. On the sixth day, before the Sabbath, they were to gather up twice as much, for there would be no manna on the Sabbath.
The manna was given as a test of their willingness to obey the Lord’s commands. At first, some were greedy and gathered more than they needed. When they awoke the next morning they found that the leftover manna was filled with worms. Then, others disobeyed God’s command and went looking for manna on the Sabbath. Yet, they found none and no doubt that day they had to do without because they had failed to gather twice as much the day before. All of this was to test their willingness to obey the Lord.
- “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT
Yet, manna was given for something more than just a test and training for obedience. There was a spiritual component that we must not miss. This spiritual component is seen in Deuteronomy 8:3 and it is magnified as we hear it again in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Even the Son of God learned obedience through the things that He suffered!
- “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:1-4 NLT
The lesson of the manna was more than a lesson of mere obedience. It was a lesson of the true provision of life that God has given to us. And, it was a lesson of when we need to partake of this provision.
Satan tried to trick Jesus into meeting His physical needs before attending to His spiritual needs. Jesus responded with God’s Word from this chapter in Deuteronomy – “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The manna that God provided each day was a reminder of the true source of life. It came from heaven just as God’s Word comes from heaven. Each day they gathered it was to be a reminder that God’s Word was their true source of life. When they obeyed God’s Word there was provision and blessing.
- “Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus. Matthew 4:8, 10-11 NLT
Jesus, the Son of God, endured trial and temptations just as we do. The victory that He experienced was not through meeting the needs of the flesh but by partaking of the manna from heaven – the Word of God! Jesus, as fully God, and fully man, overcame the trials of life just as we can. Too many times we get preoccupied with the need and we miss the provision. The provision for our victory never comes from what we do. It always comes from heaven. It always comes from the true manna – the living and abiding Word of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Heavenly Father, help me to learn the lesson of the manna. Help me to seek You each morning as I begin my day. May I hunger to fill my spirit with Your Word before I fill my stomach with food. As I walk through times of trial and testing, help me to always remember that You never stop providing the manna of Your Word to teach, lead, and strengthen me. In prolonged times of testing may I trust You fully and recognize that Your Word is sufficient!
In Jesus Name!