Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, September 24

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”
—Exodus 16: 4-5

God thus answers the bitter cries of the children of Israel whom Moses led out from bondage in Egypt. Forgetting their abuse as slaves, they were hungry and murmured against Moses for getting them into such a mess. We humans are so fickle, and so quick to cast blame.

But God graciously answers them and, in this passage, describes how their hunger will be alleviated. There are three important messages in this text:

  1. God does provide. It may not always be in the form that we want, but in one way or another, God provides.
  2. There will be enough bread for each day, no more, no less. Along with God’s gift was a test: would the people obey God and take only one day’s portion at a time? Jesus reflects this admonition when he tells his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
  3. On the sixth day, when they prepare the bread, it will be enough for them to have on the seventh day, because on that day they were to rest. They were to keep the Sabbath holy, and God would see to it that they could.

It is this last point that strikes me as so important. If God expected people who lived in the wilderness, uncertain of what the next day held for them, to stop and rest, how much more are we called to do likewise?

I have always read this story focusing on the miracle of God providing bread in the wilderness, but now I see an equally important focus: We are not only to trust God, we are to honor God by taking care of ourselves, and insisting that others do the same.

Gracious God, you feed us with the bread of life. Give us the will and the wisdom to nourish and replenish our bodies and our souls with sacred rest. Amen.

The Signposts for September are written by Margaret Jones and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.