The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.
Tell them, ‘At twilight, you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.
Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

Exodus 16:11-12

The Lord Provides!

My wife does most of the grocery shopping in our house – and for good reason.  If grocery shopping was left to me our meals would likely be absent of anything green and our pantry would be overstocked with cereal boxes and bags of chips. We eat nutritiously in our home because of my wife. She also does the shopping because I often make the mistake of going to the grocery store when I’m hungry, which means tasty items that aren’t on the list often end up in the cart. While I’m driving home I find myself brainstorming an explanation for my wife as to why I bought what I did. Another reason she does the shopping is that I can’t resist a good deal. I’m easily a victim of the marketing traps carefully set by stores. As I weave my buggy through the aisles to the back wall where staples like milk and eggs are inevitably located, I’ll stumble across a buy-one-get-one-free deal that I just can’t pass up. And many times, I’ll buy two because then I get two free. What a deal, right?!  After checkout, I leave with a receipt that’s twice as long as it should have been. The ready abundance of affordable delicious food in our grocery stores is a struggle for my weak willpower.

The Israelite families of the Exodus were not familiar with my “struggle”. After the Lord provided the Israelites with a miraculous escape from slavery in Egypt, he led them through the desert on a 40-year journey. During this time God unconventionally provided Israel with miracle food – manna and quail.  Six out of seven mornings a thin white bread (manna) would appear on the ground for them to collect. And, six out of seven evenings quail would flock to their camp for their taking. There was always plenty for the estimated one million Israeli travelers. They were only to collect the food they needed for the day. But on the sixth day of the week, they were to collect two days-worth so they wouldn’t need to work on the seventh day – the Sabbath Day.  If they collected more than they needed for the prescribed time frame, the following day it would be rotten, full of maggots and worms. God made the food expire to force the Israelites to rely on him and trust his promise to daily provide. This provision of food dependably appeared and miraculously sustained the Israelites for 40 years. This food was a daily reminder that the Lord provides.

Most of us have never had to worry about where our next meal might come from.  Instead, we deal with first-world problems such as indecision over what to make for dinner or which restaurant to visit. We are so blessed in our lives that our next meal is assumed. David wrote in Psalm 145, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” We often use these eloquent words in our dinner prayer, but the impact of God’s promise to provide is often lost in our lack of need.  Unlike the Israelites, we have competing grocers with several aisles of food varieties. I can’t imagine eating the same meal over and over again for 40 years. Our abundance is a luxurious blessing from above. It’s a blessing that is just as much a miracle as the manna and quail that appeared for the Israelites (but much more delicious!) The Lord provides. May we never take God’s generous provisions for granted!

God gives us more than food to fill our stomachs. More importantly, he gives us his Word to fill our hearts and minds. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 8:3, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”  Moses is pointing out that God’s promises are even more essential to life than the food in our bellies. Without food, we die physically. Without God’s promises in Jesus, we die eternally.  St. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus made us right with God. He exchanged his perfect life for our sinful life. He suffered our punishment of sin on the cross. He grants us entry into heaven where we will experience life everlasting. We need a Savior. And wouldn’t you know it? The Lord provides. 

The next time the sliding glass doors open for you at a grocery store and you gaze upon a warehouse full of fresh food, pause for a moment and think to yourself, “The Lord provides”.  In Jesus, he provides everything I need for this life – and for eternity.

Written by Brent R. Bitter, Staff Minister