What Is This?


Exodus 16:1-18 says, “They had departed from Egypt…and the whole congregation grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness…for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

The Israelites were freshly liberated from Egyptian slavery but had no idea how to live in their newfound freedom. And to make things more challenging, God brought them from slavery into an empty wilderness, which seemed to immediately make them hungry!  


One morning the people of God woke up grumbling (stomachs?), they looked down and saw something they never had seen before. "What is this?" they exclaimed (Ex.16:15). By the way, this is just what the Hebrew word “manna” means: “what is this?”     


But even so they were ready to eat “what is this?” without knowing the mystery of it because they knew this was from the hand of God. They trusted the source. “They bit down on the unknown” -- literally.


By eating the "what is this" the Israelites found out exactly what it was -- God's faithful provision for the next 40 years. Everyday God faithfully gave them manna. He never took a vacation. He never forgot about them. He never ran out. Through “manna,” God's people discovered that His provision is inexhaustible. He continued to give and give and give some more. God is indeed trustworthy and generous. The wilderness lesson they needed to learn: He provides in the mystery.


Like the Israelites, we too are living with mysteries from God, ("What's happening? What's God doing? What should I do?") We, like the Israelites in the desert, have a choice. Do we worry? Do we grumble?


Instead, let’s together trust that God is in the mystery and will provide for us; always standing ready to give us our daily "manna."