The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”
The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exodus 17: 5-6
When you think of God’s provision, what comes to mind? If you’re anything like me, it’ll be the simple things – a roof over our heads, clothes on our back, food on the table. Simple, straightforward answers to the simple, straightforward prayer of ‘Give us this day our daily bread’.
Or, perhaps, your mind will go to those stories of cheques arriving on doormats at exactly the right moment, or bags of food appearing seemingly out of nowhere just as hunger is about to set in. Maybe you even have one of those stories yourself.
Even the most extravagant stories of God’s provision today, however, are unlikely to match those of the Israelites’ – bread materialising overnight, quail falling from the sky, and water pouring from a rock in the desert.
But then again, it’s probably unlikely that many of us have faced quite such a wilderness as that of the Israelites’, at least not physically. God’s manifestations of provision may vary, but his presence and promises do not.
This is a story both of human nature – our grumbling, moaning, forgetful, faithless nature – and of divine character – God’s kindness, his provision, his nearness, his care for the small things.
Today, God’s provision is rarely as obvious as small birds falling from the sky, or water gushing from a rock in a barren land. But it is always there. His provision comes most clearly of all, of course, in the person of Jesus: ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty … let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink’ (John 6:35, 7:37).
There may not be birds falling from the sky as you go about your daily business today (and if there are, we’ll doubtless hear about it on the 6 o’clock news this evening), but there will be – as there was for the Israelites all those years ago – the provision of God, through his Son, by his Spirit.
May it go ahead of you like a cloud, be discovered, like manna, in the unexpected places, and gush freely, like water in the desert, from the things you thought were barren and unyielding.