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Manna: God’s providence in the wilderness


By Dr Edward Tamale-Sali

The book of Exodus begins with the pain of Israelites under bondage in Egypt.

The people of God have been in slavery for over 400 years, and lo and behold, the Lord comes for their rescue and provides freedom.

The people of Israel are saved from Egypt and they head to Canaan, a land that flows milk and honey.

The journey to that Promised Land, however, was through the wilderness and the Israelites had to through it.

A wilderness is a place of death and inadequacy.

When the Israelites got to the desert, life became so hard that they started crying to the Lord through Moses.

Cry in the wilderness

According to Exodus 16:1-4, “the whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness… The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’.”

Then the Lord said to Moses: “I am going to rain bread from Heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.

In that way, I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‘In the 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…’” The Israelites cried in the wilderness; they cried in the place of emptiness and the Lord intervened with His providential hand.

It matters that whenever we are in the wilderness, we cry to no one else but God.

Manna from Heaven

When Israel came into the wilderness of Sinai, the Lord provided them with “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4; John 6:31).

“And Moses said to them, ‘this is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:9).

Manna was food made in Heaven. The catering services of Haven prepared a dining table in the wilderness upon which the Israelites fed for 40 years.

“And the children of Israel ate manna 40 years until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan” (Exodus 16:35).

It appeared as a “small round thing, as small as the frost on the ground” (Exodus 16:14).

It could be gathered up, ground in mills, or smashed in mortars.

It was made into cakes or boiled in pots.

It was white like coriander seed and tasted similar to cakes baked with oil and honey (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:8).

Isn’t it amazing that God provided food that could be prepared and reproduced in various forms to the preference of the consumer?

Our God is a great provider! This journey was supposed to last only for a week or 30 days utmost, but it lasted for 40 years. The reason why it took long was because the Israelites had disobeyed God.

These people started worshipping idols instead of God.

God became so angry that many died in the desert (Joshua 5:6) but even then manna, the provision of God from Heaven, never ceased until they entered Canaan (Joshua 5:12).

During this time (wilderness), God rained food directly from Heaven on a daily basis – morning and evening.

They were taught to depend on the provision of the Lord and not on their savings.

No one was allowed to keep manna, but rather each picked what was enough for the day.

God our daily source

As we walk through this life, we need to trust God every hour.

Jesus promised He will never leave us or forsake us. He even quoted this provision in the Lord’s Prayer when asked us to pray thus: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mathew 6:11).

It is only the God who created this world out of nothing that can always supply our needs in our particular wildernesses.

It might be unemployment, lack of food, lack of a suitable job, your business is going down, perhaps no visa or your child is not performing well at school.

Your wilderness could be an incurable disease according to the recent diagnosis. Your wilderness might be a broken marriage or a wayward child.

I want to reassure you that if you totally lean on the Lord in that wilderness, a place of impossibilities is a place of God’s action zone.

He will make sure you go through it. He provides, and He always shall.


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