I’m always fascinated by the supernatural provisions of God, especially when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness. The feeding of the entire nation of Israel of at least 2 million people, was equivalent to providing food for about half the population size of Singapore, every single day!
And what about that super food called “manna” which literally means “what is it?” in Hebrew (Exo 16:15, 31). It looked like coriander seeds and tasted like wafers made with honey; equally agreeable to all palates and sustained the whole nation for 40 years. It came each morning, and couldn’t be kept overnight, except on the sixth day where a double portion could be collected and be miraculously preserved so that there was food on the seventh day – the Sabbath.
I want to draw two lessons from what I call the “Manna Test” in Num 11:4-6 (NLT): “And the people of Israel also began to complain. ‘Oh, for some meat!’ they exclaimed. ‘We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!’
1. Manna wasn’t the point.
The purpose of the manna was to test Israel’s faith and daily dependence on God. Manna wasn’t the focal point, but it’s on the One who provided the manna, much like the “exit” sign above the door of a building. Nobody walks to the “exit” sign and stops there. You’re supposed to go through the door and unto your destination. Manna was supposed to be a daily reminder of God to the Children of Israel. Instead of being grateful, they were so caught up by the lack of variety in their food menu that they complained incessantly.
And finally, Ps 106:14-15 summed it up this way. They lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, cared only about pleasing themselves in the desert, tested and provoked God with their insistent demands. And God gave them what they asked for, but sent leanness into their soul (spiritual decay).
At the slightest setback, they’d rather go back to Egypt (a type of the world) than to run toward God for help. Just one chapter before, they were eye witnesses to how God supernaturally parted the Red Sea and delivered them out of Egypt, and later drowned Pharaoh and his armies in that sea (Exo 15:19). Yet they even believed that God would rescue them out of Egypt only to kill them in the wilderness! Clearly, although they were physically out of Egypt, their love for the things in Egypt wasn’t out of their hearts. Likewise, going to church doesn’t really make you a Christian. It’s living out and bearing the fruit of a surrendered life that makes you one.
2. Sometimes, God offends your natural appetite to reveal your spiritual appetite.
We Singaporeans love our food so much that we even greet people with it. Instead of greeting with, “How are you?”, we ask, “Have you eaten?” I’m sure the Children of Israel loved their food as well, which is why they complained about the lack of variety in their food menu.
From 1 Cor 15:46, we know that “the natural comes first, then the spiritual”. Perhaps the “Manna Test” was to awaken their spiritual hunger and appetite. Could it be that God had wanted their dissatisfaction for natural food to cause a “holy dissatisfaction” within them for more of Him instead? However, that wasn’t the case. They were satisfied with knowing and hearing God from a distance, through Moses (Exo 20:18-20). What a tragedy it’d be if Pastor Yang was the only one in Cornerstone who desires to know God intimately, while the rest of us were contented with hearing from his experiences with God and not desiring for our own.
Let me turn the table around and ask – if the “Manna Test” falls on you, would you pass the test? Does your spiritual appetite for God match up to your natural appetite for food and material things? Are you satisfied with your 15 min devotion, but are constantly checking out new food stalls, exploring new places or cafes to chill out at?
This lesson about manna is but one of the many examples we learn at the expense of the Children of Israel. 1 Cor 10:11 (TPT) puts it this way, “All the tests they endured on their way through the wilderness are a symbolic picture, an example that provides us with a warning so that we can learn through what they experienced…”
This week marked a historical moment in history with Israel entering her 70th year of existence, against all odds, showing God’s faithfulness to His people, and the unprecedented move of the US embassy to Jerusalem that riled the world. Let’s continue to uphold Israel in prayer as we take another step closer towards the fulfilment of God’s prophetic calendar.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.” Ps 122:6
I love Israel. Shalom!
Pastor Kevin Koh