May 5, 2020
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to 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 they will walk in my law or not.” Exodus 16:4-5
Miracles are, by their nature, unbelievable. If they were believable, we wouldn’t consider them miracles. With that said, there are some miracles in the Bible that seem more unbelievable than others. I unfortunately had to “skim” over it in the Exodus sermon this past Sunday, but God provided quail by night and manna by day to the nation of Israel. That would be an amazing miracle in and of itself if it just happened once, right? Now consider that:
The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came together to the border of the land of Canaan. Ex 16:35
Forty years. Six days a week (double portion on Saturdays) for forty years. God’s provision was constant, even though Israel’s faithfulness wasn’t. He gave them bread whether they walked in his law or not. Ok, so picture this: the day they crafted the golden calf (Ex 32), there was manna on the ground. And the day after, when they worshipped this false god? Manna on the ground. This is the covenant-keeping love of God that is a bigger, more unbelievable miracle than the bread itself.
Where do we find ourselves in this story? Well, when the disciples came up to Jesus and said to him, “Lord teach us to pray”, he included the line we all now know:
Give us each day our daily bread (Luke 11:3).
We are not the nation of Israel in the wilderness, and we may not be worried about where we’re going to get physical food each day (although many Christians are), but Jesus knows we are as desperate for daily provision from the Lord as Israel was on their journey to the Promised Land.
When Jesus says he is the “bread from heaven”, he shows that while this prayer includes physical provision, it is primarily asking for the spiritual, daily provision of Christ Himself, through the Holy Spirit. We need his grace, his courage, his compassion, his love and sacrifice so that we can endure. In his book, Prayer, John Onwuchekwa says “Notice, he wants us to pray for daily bread – not weekly bread, not monthly bread, not a trust fund, not a nice little nest egg. He wants us to rely upon God daily.”
If I studied and preached this sermon in Exodus without a global pandemic, I would have understood the point. But, now I feel this in ways that I don’t know I ever have before. I don’t know about you, but I feel the weight of all this, and it’s growing increasingly heavy with each passing week. I can’t help but think often, “it’s not supposed to be this way” not only in my life, but when I think about the impact on the lives of so many others.
In the coming weeks, Lord willing, I can hopefully begin to share some of the discussions we’ve had at the staff and elder level in regards to what “returning” may look like for Grace Church. But I have to be honest, we have no idea when those plans and thoughts can begin to be implemented. The phase we’re in now, with absolutely zero gatherings big or small, has no immediate end in sight. We don’t have a date in mind. We just have plans, and no idea whether it’ll be this month, next month, or next year that we can begin to move on them.
So, when we wake up each day, we stand at the daily crossroads. We can grumble to God and others, or we can ask God for bread. We can ask for more of Him. More presence, more truth, more encouragement, more sustenance to get us through the day, and then wake up tomorrow and do it again. We do this in faith, because we cling to the promise that he will be faithful to provide it, even on the days we fall short of the way we should act. Because he is a covenant-keeping God, after all. We trust it, because he said it. And if he said it, he will do it.
And not only will he sustain us, he will fill us with enough grace, courage, and compassion so that we can be a means through which he provides to others. Both physically and spiritually, we can be messengers of bread (the food kind) and Bread (the Christ kind).
So be encouraged church, there was manna on the ground this morning, and it’ll be there again tomorrow. God is working, God is leading, and God is worthy of our trust. There was never a day between the Red Sea and the Promised Land that He forgot to send Israel manna. And there will never be a day between the day he’s saved us (our Red Sea) and the promised land (eternal glory with Him) that he will forget to provide daily grace of Christ to His Church. It’s the kind of unbelievable provision that we can believe in.