“Our Father in heaven … Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9-11).
I’ve never prayed that prayer... I've never prayed for bread. I’ve never been hungry, really hungry, so hungry that I prayed for God’s life-sustaining provision. Have you?
The emancipated Hebrews begged for food. In a wilderness waste land, with waves of oppressive heat shimmering over the endless sand-covered landscape, with all their worldly possessions in a tattered gunnysack, and with their meager provisions depleted, they cried out to God. “Our Father in heaven … Give us today our daily bread!”
They, like their parents and grandparents, had lived under ruthless Egyptian domination. They had been beaten into submission, serving their pagan masters, until their Devine Deliverer had arrived. With ten miraculous signs, God had orchestrated their liberation. Following the tenth plague, the death of the first-born, the Israelites had been set free.
With Moses directing traffic, “the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to lead them on their way during the day and in a pillar of fire to give them light at night” (Exodus 13:21).
Standing on the banks of the Red Sea, “Moses said to the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation that he will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you must be quiet’ ” (Exodus 14:13–14). With a snap of His fingers, God turned the Red Sea into a red carpet, and ushered his beloved people through the impenetrable barrier. When the advancing army attempted to follow, “the water came back and covered the chariots and horsemen, plus the entire army of Pharaoh that had gone after them into the sea. Not even one of them survived” (Exodus 14:28).
One month into their journey (Exodus 12:18; 16:1), the nation of freed slaves, “came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy date palms, and they camped there by the water” (Exodus 15:27). The beautiful oasis should have been a revitalizing and refreshing respite, but 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).
God could have destroyed the ungrateful nation, but He saw them just as His Son saw the five-thousand. He “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). Patiently, kindly, graciously, God spoke to Moses. “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them… in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 16:12).
Without a corner bakery, the Children of Israel wouldn’t have survived without God’s daily provision. But God did provide. Every morning, for forty years (Joshua 5:12), God’s “what is it?” rained from heaven. Manna. Bread from heaven. God’s grace (John 6:33).