It seems a strange thing to focus on, but the account in the Bible where God feeds the hungry, and somewhat desperate nation of Israel with Manna for 40 years is more important than first impressions allow.
It is good to have the miraculous interventions of God in life – and as the Exodus narrative shows, the prolonged daily occurrence of God’s miraculous provision was essential and crucial.
The daily bread of Israel was important to them, but in providing the manna God had a powerful lesson to teach, namely that in the very moment that God was providing them with the bread of heaven, they couldn’t live on that alone.
What is required for life is God’s Word itself. But what does that mean? Miracles may bring relief and a welcomed intervention in life, but the real sustenance comes from what God has to say to us. Familiarity can bring contempt and for the Israelites that was very clear from their outburst, “But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna”. Right there is the heart of the matter – God was teaching them to hunger for more than bread.
The discontentment they were feeling was intended to drive them to the face of God, and not for them to be just looking for the hand of God. It is a difficult tension – everything we have comes as the provision of God’s kind and gracious hand, but what is really important to us is that we live off of the words that proceed from the mouth of God.
There are two things to consider here. The first is that all Scripture is breathed out, inspired and given by God. Scripture teaches us how to live our lives, what is required of us and how to find, know and live by God’s wisdom. In short, Scripture teaches us to look to God alone, not fear the face of man and to be confident in our God.
The other important thing is that God speaks to us. Perhaps, this is a profound part of what it means to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Perhaps the biggest message we need to hear today amidst the still gathering storms we face, is that God hears and answers prayer.
The letter from Paul to the Colossians urges them unequivocally, “devote yourselves to prayer”. In fact Paul takes it even further, pressing the issue more and more with the Philippian saints, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
Everything you need will come by prayer, and God is still speaking in response today. When God says ‘let there be..’ it happens, but we do need to learn how to persistently ask. What God has already done for us is wonderful – but in His extravagance God calls for us to keep on relentlessly coming to Him in prayer.
You don’t live by miracles alone, but by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth.
Sounds exciting doesn’t it?