Weekly Devotional: Bread from Heaven (2 in Sabbath and Rest series)

Manna reigning from heaven on the Israelites, circa 1250, Maciejowski Bible

“Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days.” Exodus 16:1–30 (NIV)

The Lord God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt with dramatic measures as he sent down the plagues on the hard-hearted Pharaoh and he parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape the Egyptian army. But the people of God had a short memory, for as they wandered in the desert, fueled by hunger, they began to despair, saying, “Oh, if only we had stayed in Egypt.”

The Lord, not tiring of their complaints, devises a solution – he sends quails and sweet-tasting bread from heaven to feed them. Their only work is to gather the riches set before them, enough daily bread for the day. And for the celebration of the Sabbath, the Lord instructs them to gather on the sixth day enough for two days.

We see in the Lord’s provision and instruction his love for his people. Not only is he establishing a seven-day week (some biblical commentators believe the Egyptians held to a ten-day week), but he provides a day of rest for all classes of society – including the servants and slaves. He knows their limitations and provide them with a way of living that will help them to thrive. But do they listen? No – some gather too much during the week, and the bread turns moldy. Others go out on the seventh day, looking for food but not finding any.

How are we like the Israelites? Do we understand how God gives us not only bread to eat but meat to feast on? Do we stop and rest, acknowledging that he is God and we are not? May today we ask Jesus, the living bread, to fill us with his sustenance and help us order our lives according to God’s wisdom and plans.

For reflection: Read through the story again, this time imagining you are a slave girl in the story. How does the shift in perspective shed light on the narrative?


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