MANNA

Manna. I’m not praying for it. If you ask me to pray for proverbial manna from heaven, I will not. You’ve been forewarned. And I say that with so much love in my heart.

I’ve often heard people ask God to send “manna.” Manna from heaven like God gave the Israelites in the desert. It sounds super spiritual. It’s a Christianese way of saying we need God to come through for us, we need provision, we need God to meet an urgent need. We look at the miracle of the manna in Exodus and we see a God who delivers food out of the clear blue sky. Every day, it was just enough.

That’s great. I’m just simply not going to pray that for you.

I’m not trying to minimize the manna as less than a miracle from God – it clearly was. I also understand when Christians want God to give them just enough in a situation because they feel they are at the end of their rope. But when someone asks me to pray for proverbial manna, I am inclined to ask why they are being disobedient to God.

Let’s look at why God provided the manna for the Israelites in the first place, starting at their grand exodus from Egypt.

When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.” So God brought the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea, and the Israelites went up from the land of Egypt prepared for battle.

Exodus 13:17-18, NET

First off, The Israelites were led the long way through the desert because God knew they weren’t ready for what the shorter path had in front of them. He took them all back roads instead of the interstate. He knew they were weak-minded and would want to turn back to slavery rather than fight for God’s promises. He led them to a point of no return because their faith wasn’t big enough yet.

If they had been prepared to go the short way, they would have had more than enough food and supplies to make it.  Actually, if they hadn’t bargained themselves into 40 years into the desert, they would have had enough regardless of their mapquest route.

So they weren’t prepared for the road to God’s promises, were DEFINITELY not prepared for the shortcut, then they complained like a mob of hangry toddlers.

When they journeyed from Elim, the entire company of Israelites came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their exodus from the land of Egypt. The entire company of Israelites murmured 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 pots of meat, when we 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, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. Will they walk in my law or not? On the sixth day they will prepare what they bring in, and it will be twice as much as they gather every other day.” Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your murmurings against the Lord. As for us, what are we, that you should murmur against us?” Moses said, “You will know this when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning to satisfy you, because the Lord has heard your murmurings that you are murmuring against him. As for us, what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.” Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole community of the Israelites, ‘Come before the Lord, because he has heard your murmurings.’” As Aaron spoke to the whole community of the Israelites and they looked toward the wilderness, there the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud, and the Lord spoke to Moses, “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’”

Exodus 16:1-12, NET

The Israelites were so obnoxious, God and Moses make a point to mention their murmuring eight times in these verses. I might be the only one, but I see the manna as a disciplinary measure for poor behavior, not a blessing. God also clearly defines it as a test.

Is that really what you want? Are you complaining and asking for a test?

People ask for manna-like miracles when they have lost their job, need a new home in a pinch, or need money to pay bills and the like – when they feel they have exited a spiritual Egypt and are wandering through a desert season in search of the Promised Land. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for miracles in these situations – please don’t hear that. But I have to ask the hard questions here: Are you asking for manna because you already know you aren’t being fully obedient and you’re hoping God will throw you a bone? Are you hoping for manna because you don’t trust God will deliver on His promises? What was the last thing God told you to do? Are you ignoring Him? Are you trying to get God to carry out your plans or are you walking in obedience with His plans?

Bottom line, the manna was provided because the Israelites were ill-prepared, weak-minded, complaining, and disobedient. They were stuck in the desert far longer than they needed to be. They actually begged to go back into slavery. The manna they received was a miracle to sustain them because God will not break His covenant with His people. It wasn’t a miracle of blessing and abundance. He had so much more for them, but they forfeited all the abundance the Promised Land had to offer. They traded God’s forever promises for instant gratification.

I’m simply not going to pray that for you. Instead, I’m going to pray you are overwhelmed with a desire to seek God with all your heart. I’m going to pray you hear God’s voice clearly and walk in faithful obedience regardless of the sacrifices it takes. I will encourage you to stir up an urgency within your soul to do His will and praise Him before the miracle has happened. And I will pray God finds you ready and capable when He does give you manna tests. Your readiness and stewardship of the manna will determine whether you continue to wander in the wilderness or advance to your Promised Land. God wants His absolute best for you. Do you want His best for yourself?

Do you really want manna today or can you wait for the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey and grapes as big as your head? Do you want the kinds of miracles that are brought about by complaining and disobedience? Or do you want the miracles that come from your obedience, surrender, and praise?

When we are obedient and faithful, we don’t have to beg. We can trust and rest in God’s goodness even if life gets hard. We see His promises fulfilled in our lives through submission and surrender, not whining and complaining. We don’t have to strive or convince God to give us a miracle. He delights in giving His children good gifts. So I will pray you and I prepare our hearts in such a way to receive those gifts well.

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