It is difficult to understand how people who had been freed from bondage would ever say they wanted to go back.
Yet, that is exactly what Israel did in Exodus chapter 16. God’s people had been freed from bitter bondage but were actually wishing they were back in Egypt. They complained they had pots full of meat and plenty of bread (Exodus 16:3).
So God gave his people quail and bread from heaven to eat.
Each family was to collect the manna which was left behind from the morning dew. Each person could have about two quarts of the bread. It didn’t matter if one gathered more or less than the one omer required, it would be enough. It was to be eaten before the morning of the next day or it would spoil. On the day before Sabbath, the people could collect two-days supply and it would remain fresh. Anyone who failed to gather the manna before the heat of the day would find themselves going hungry.
God used the manna to teach his people several lessons.
God wanted his people to learn to trust and depend on him. This has not been an easy lesson for people to learn because most people are more comfortable depending on themselves. Saving faith, however, requires us to rely on God instead of self. Israel needed to learn how to trust and obey God. So do we all.
God wanted his people to learn obedience. They were instructed how and when to collect the manna and if they didn’t obey God they went hungry. If they waited too late in the day and didn’t collect the manna they went hungry. Their hunger would teach them to obey God.
God wanted his people to be thankful. Israel needed to learn how to appreciate its blessings. The manna God gave kept Israel alive for 40 years in the wilderness.
God wanted his people to learn that work is an important part of his plan. They were to gather the manna each morning. Lazy people would not eat. God’s service requires work and attention.
When Jesus gave his disciples a model prayer, he taught them to pray for their food. He said, “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3 NET). This is the same principle God used when he gave Israel manna from heaven. In praying for our bread, our food, each day we learn the same lessons God taught Israel in the wilderness. How well are we learning?