Summary: Observing how God provided both physical and spiritual food for the ancient Hebrews just may help us TRUST Him more completely today.
• The Israelites grumbled against their leaders. (v8) The people had forgotten that it was God who was leading them, not only by Moses, but also by the cloud which was before them (cf. Exo. 13:21-22; 16:10). . As Moses points out, their complaint against their leaders represents a complaint against the Lord, for the Lord in his sovereignty gave the leaders to the people. However, the Israelites thought that their murmuring is against Moses. This is a tragic misconception..
• They grumbled because they are not satisfied with WHAT they are given. (vv.13-15) The people of Israel grumbled because what was provided is not what they expect. “What is it” , they asked. The flake-like substance, later to be called manna, was to be gathered each day but not saved until the next day. The people need to understand that the Lord is a giver. Their conception of him needs to be changed. What better way than to see him provide for them each morning? The Lord is teaching them to depend on his provision.
• They grumbled because they are not satisfied with HOW MUCH they are given. (vv.17-22). In verse sixteen the children of Israel are given specific instructions about how to gather the manna. Having run out of food in the wilderness, so that the Israelites feared that they would starve to death. The Hebrews were fearful they would starve if they will not gather more foods more than what they commanded to do so. This is a direct violation to the command of God. These instructions were intended to test the Israelites as well as to teach them obedience and increase their faith.
Knowing that Israel’s grumbling was the result of her lack of faith, God responded not with anger or judgment, but with provision. With abundance. With grace.
Consequently, God responded GENTLY and GRACIOUSLY to the grumblings of the Israelites. Rather than to rebuke them for their complaining, He did two things, both of which were intended to demonstrate His presence with His people in their affliction and adversity. First, He revealed His glory to the Israelites by some special manifestation of Himself in the cloud by which He had been leading them (16:10). Second, God provided His people with quail and with manna (16:11-14).
God feed them from His own hand, showing them that He was their SUFFICIENCY and their SUSTENANCE.
From the New Testament references to the manna of the Israelites, I would suggest that several principles were being taught in the provision of this “bread from heaven” which are just as applicable to Christian living today as they were for the Israelites.
1. It teaches us to look to the Lord for our supply. The Israelite are told that this supply will come “from heaven for you.”
2. It teaches us to look to the LORD daily for our needs. The manna was to be gathered daily. Fresh food must be gathered every day. You cannot live on yesterday’s blessings. We must have something fresh every day. We cannot live today on the gathered provisions of yesterday. Dependence is a daily matter. Everyday fresh problems will arise to test whether or not we will depend on God.