I get it.
The Israelites’ disobedience, that is. Sure, they get a bad rap when we read through the Old Testament, but their pattern of unbelief isn’t as foreign to me as I’d like to think it is.
After delivering His people from slavery in miraculous fashion, God’s appointed leader, Moses, was the target of the congregation’s groaning. Yes, they had been liberated from Pharaoh’s tyranny, but now they were hungry. Approximately two million strong, it makes sense that the crowd of men, women, and children would question the food supply in the wilderness. It was a legitimate concern, but then again they had reason to believe God would come through.
To assuage their hunger and silence their complaints, God promised to “rain bread from heaven” each morning and provide meat each evening (Exodus 16:4, 12). All they had to do was gather what they could eat each day and collect a double portion once a week to account for what they’d need on the sixth day and the Sabbath. Sounds easy enough.
One more thing – they were forbidden from keeping any leftovers. They were to take what they needed each day and nothing more. Unsurprisingly some broke the rules, and they woke up to the delightful sight and smell of rotten, worm-infested manna and quail. Yum.
This event reiterates the pattern of work and rest God initiated at creation and was a precursor to the commands given at Mount Sinai. It emphasizes the significance of obeying God’s Word and respecting the leaders He puts in place. But it also exposes just how easily humanity gravitates toward skepticism and unbelief.
Perhaps the Israelites realized in hindsight that they should’ve expected God to sustain them in the wilderness. After all, their journey began when they walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. Surely God didn’t do all that just to abandon them on the other side. And maybe later on they noticed the irony in stockpiling bread from heaven just in case God didn’t deliver on His promise the next day.
Like I said, I get it. I can’t tell you how much time I spend worrying about the future and obsessing over hypotheticals. I try to hoard today’s mercies just in case I’m not greeted by fresh, tailor-made mercies tomorrow (Lamentations 3:22-23). Yes, God has always been faithful, but I can’t seem to shake the lingering what ifs about the future. In other words, I struggle with unbelief.
Whether or not unbelief was the sole motivator of the Israelites’ disobedience, it clearly factored in to how they treated Moses, assessed their circumstances, and responded to God’s Word. The significant ramifications of the Israelites’ distrust prove that a just in case mentality didn’t serve them, and it doesn’t serve us either.
So what if, instead of making provisions for the just in case scenarios we dream up, we lived with the assumption that God will do what He says He will do? What difference would it make if we expected God to keep His promises instead of wondering if He will?
For starters we could quit hoarding manna and stockpiling grace. Because God has sustained each of us through every single today we’ve ever faced, it makes sense to believe He will be enough tomorrow, and the next day, and even the day after that. We need not apply present grace to hypothetical problems of the future. Nor should we minimize our desperation for Him today just in case He fails to provide for our needs tomorrow.
As in the wilderness, God will prove His sufficiency time and again in our lives. He won’t share His glory with our ability to plan, prepare, and stockpile. He wants it to be unmistakable – He came through in the wilderness every single day. And lest we miss it – the God who rained bread from heaven like clockwork is the same One who greets us with new mercies every single day.
So savor it – today’s sufficient grace. Don’t be afraid to admit how desperately you need every bit of it. There’s no use keeping any leftover. He’ll come through again tomorrow.