The news outlets report the hardship of Ukrainian people fleeing their homeland. They’re leaving behind cities and neighborhoods that have been bombed and burned, forever ravaged by the intruding armies. Photographs show families, marching in single file, each carrying only a small bag, presumably containing their few valuables, keepsakes, and clothing. How many days will it take the refugees to reach the relative safety of a neighboring county? How many nights will they sleep in the cold? How many meals will they miss? When will they know the embraced of kind and generous people offering a hot meal and a warm bed?
(Continue to pray for Ukraine! Pray also for the Russian people living under the rule of a totalitarian tyrant! Pray for churches in neighboring countries as they receive the weary refugees. Pray that God’s light would shine brightly in the darkness and that the Good News would transform lives giving hope and eternal peace.)
How many meals did the Israelite refugees miss? Like the Ukrainians, they had left behind everything that was familiar. In the wilderness wasteland there aren’t any WalMarts, no United Groceries, no Taco Bells, no Pizza Huts. Where could they find food to feed the multitudes?
It didn’t take too long before the mumbling and grumbling began. “The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!’ ” (Exodus 16:2-3). “We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic” (Numbers 11:5).
God, the ultimate promise-keeper and problem-solver, had an answer. “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4). That had never happened before! Bread from heaven? “In the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, there were fine flakes on the desert surface, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, ‘What is it?’ because they didn’t know what it was. Moses told them, ‘It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat’ ” (Exodus 16:13-15). In the Hebrew language, man-hu, is “what is it?” Man-hu... manna... what is it? “The house of Israel named the substance manna” (Exodus 16:31). Six days each week the manna covered the ground in the morning. Each Friday, twice as much fell, enough for Friday and the day of rest, Saturday, the Sabbath.
It never failed. God didn’t take a vacation. His supply didn’t run low. Every morning, manna arrived, special delivery, straight from the heart of a loving Father. Forty years later, “while the Israelites camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month. The day after Passover they ate unleavened bread and roasted grain from the produce of the land. And the day after they ate from the produce of the land, the manna ceased. Since there was no more manna for the Israelites, they ate from the crops of the land of Canaan that year” (Joshua 5:10–12).
Centuries later, some that followed Jesus wanted Him to perform a great miracle. They goaded Jesus with, “ ‘Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness’ ... Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you ... my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world ... I am the bread of life’ ” (John 6:31-35).
Jesus, still the problem-solver and promise-keeper, declared, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear... But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:25, 33). We can trust Him! No matter what happens! God provides! Always!