Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, June 13

God rained down upon them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven...the bread of angels.
—Isaiah 78:24, 25

Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, deep into the wilderness of Sinai. (See Exodus 16) There they complained of hunger and looked longingly back on the security of their captivity, preferring meat eaten in bondage to the bread of their desert freedom, for which they were dependent on God.

In a miracle made new every morning, God provided manna from heaven, the bread of angels, to sustain them in their journey. This bread could not be hoarded: enough was provided for every household each day, but attempts to gather more than was needed led only to decay.

Two things have always struck me about this story: first, God will not, it seems, encourage us in any sort of “self-sufficiency” that leads away from our reliance on Providence. God seems strongly to intend us to have our bread on a daily basis. If we persuade ourselves that we have enough spiritual strength put by for a while and need not in the meantime ask God for anything, we may find what we thought would protect us “breeding worms and becoming foul.” (Exodus 16:20)

Secondly: the people did not recognize the bread that God had provided them as food.

In fact, they did not recognize it at all; when the people saw the “fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground,” they said to one another, “What is it?” Manna is the Hebrew word meaning what is it?

How often, I wonder, do I not recognize the saving grace right under my nose? How often does my greed or pride or insecurity make me try to hoard God’s mercy for tomorrow?

Generous God, you not only lead us but feed us, every day. Forgive us for complaining when you offer us the bread of angels; forgive us for preferring food of our own providing. Forgive us for not even recognizing all the ways you long to sustain and refresh us, for questioning your goodness to us.

The Signposts for June are written by Deborah Smith Douglas and originally appeared on in May 2005.