by Mike Ratliff
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. Exodus 16:4 (NASB)
Most Christians I know do not walk by faith. They may claim that they do, but when their circumstances evolve so as to put them in a corner with a clear black and white choice to trust God or play it safe, they rarely step out on faith trusting God. Instead, they choose the easy way out which is always the wrong choice because it does not lead to the blessings of God or the peace of God or into His light.
Does God still put us into “tests” as He did the Israelites during the Exodus? Sure He does. I am not one of those name-it-and-claim-it/word-faith Christians. I am not one of those who believe that if we follow certain formulas that God will shower us with riches. Instead, I believe that our circumstances can be very unpleasant and we could still be experiencing “Bread from Heaven.” We could be in the midst of terrible persecution or find ourselves in a dark room of doubt because of God allowing Satan to attack us and at the same time have the Joy of the Lord manifest in our hearts that no non-believer would ever understand. I believe that God will bless His people at times in order to test them. When we operate in the flesh we are idolatrous people. Let’s be honest. If we find ourselves in plenty isn’t this an even harder test for us than to be in want?
God is glorified when His people believe Him then obey Him. The book of Exodus is remarkable. Moses made sure that we understood that God is Sovereign. He is fully in control of all circumstances in His people’s lives. All provision comes from Him. In Egypt the Israelites were slaves, but their needs of food, shelter, and clothing were met in a society in such a way that it did not make God’s provision apparent to them. Does that sound familiar? Don’t we have the same problem in 21st Century America? When God caused the Exodus to happen, the Israelites were removed from a position of being provided for by their slave masters to one of having to trust God for water, food, shelter, and protection. As we read the book of Exodus it is apparent that the vast majority of the Israelites who were adults at their departing from Egypt believed God when it cost them nothing. If they did not have to step out on faith then they were fine with obeying God. However, when there was no water to drink, or food to eat they grumbled against God and threatened to kill Moses
When God provided Manna from Heaven for the people He did so as a test. What was the test? They had to gather only as much as they needed for each member of their households. They were not to hoard it. On the 6th day, they were to gather twice as much because there would be no Manna on the 7th. If they tried to gather twice as much on any other day the left over Manna would spoil and rot full of worms and stink. However, on the 6th day the leftovers did not spoil. They were also instructed to not try to gather Manna on the 7th day because it was the Sabbath.
I want to look at one particular passage from Exodus 16 about the Manna from Heaven. Let’s look at v18.
18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. Exodus 16:18 (NASB)
Not only did God provide food for the people that they did not earn or deserve, when they gathered it everyone had exactly enough no matter how little or much they gathered. It is similar to the widow whom God appointed to provide for Elijah. He told her to make him a small cake FIRST from her last little bit of meal and oil before making her’s and her son’s last meal from it. Because of her obedience her jar of meal never ran out nor did she run out of oil. Her provision was never more than enough to feed three people as long as God had Elijah stay there. In the case of the Manna and the Israelites, it was impossible to become wealthy in Manna. All the people had to do was gather when they were supposed to and not try to hoard it. However, they knew where their provision was coming from. It was from God, not Moses. The widow who took care of Elijah knew that he was man of God and that God provided for them.
Now, let’s fast-forward to 21st Century America. Don’t we have a huge problem understanding that our provision comes from God? Those of us who work for a living tend to look at our jobs as where our provision comes from. Our abilities and talents are the things that our employers want from us so they pay us to use them for the good of the company. This causes us to view that pay check as the source of our provision or at least we look at the company we work for that way.
No, fellow believers, our provision comes from God. He gave us the talents and abilities that enable us to work so we can be paid. He is the one who provided our jobs for us. He is the one who put us in the circumstances where we were hired for those jobs. However, we must still work. We must still be good employees who do our jobs as if unto the Lord. When we do that, don’t we begin view our “living” as a provision from God which we don’t deserve nor did we earn the right or ability to have no matter how much we tend to believe differently?
Soli Deo Gloria!