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Manna and Quail

Flex (Multi-Age)Year 2Unit 3Session 5

Manna and Quail

God provided for the Israelites' daily needs.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Wonder how God's people could forget about God so quickly.
  • Tell how God taught the people to depend on God's care each day.
  • Describe ways God cares for us each day.
  • Thank and praise God for providing for us.

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

Someone has said that you can take the slaves out of Egypt but that it's much harder to take Egypt out of the slaves. If there's one thing that characterizes the people of Israel on their journey from slavery to the promised land, it's grumbling. This pattern began already at the shores of the Red Sea, when they accused Moses of bringing them there to die. No sooner had the songs of celebration died down than "in the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron."

Instead of being overwhelmingly thankful for their deliverance from slavery and excited about their journey to freedom, the Israelites could never see beyond the needs and fears of the moment.

The Israelites had to learn to trust in God even in the inhospitable and barren environment of the wilderness. And this is one of the main lessons we need to learn in our Christian life: trusting God to provide for our needs. Whether we're little children afraid of thunder or strangers or adults afraid of cancer or of losing our jobs, the lesson is the same.

Notice how God answers the people's grumbling with grace and generosity: "I will rain down bread from heaven for you" (16:4). God's answer will far exceed the people's request. They will "see the glory of the Lord " (16:6-7).

We see that glory in the Lord's lush provision of the delivery of meat at twilight, as quail fly in and cover the ground; and of bread in the morning, as the manna (the word means "What is it?") appears on the ground.

One often neglected aspect of the gift of manna actually gets a good deal of press in the story: while God provides an abundance of quail, the gift of manna is more measured. Each household gathers only as much as they need. If they greedily hoard too much, it becomes infested by maggots.

This measured allotment becomes even more important with regard to the Sabbath. People are told to gather for six days only. But on the sixth day they are to gather double what they need; this time it will stay fresh for use on the Sabbath.

In this way the gift of manna displays God's economic principles. The first is that enough is enough---greed and hoarding demonstrate a lack of trust in God. The second is the Sabbath principle: we tend not to think of this as being an economic principle, but it is. Sabbath economics teach us that everything needs a rest: land, animals, and people. It isn't, after all, our work that saves us but our trust in God.

We pray, as Jesus taught us, "Give us this day our daily bread." This prayer, and the way of life it suggests, are anchored in the experience of the Israelites in the desert. Each day they receive from God their daily bread, and each day we receive what we need from the hand of God.


Step 1 Breathe

Use this time to focus your attention on God.

Do this with me: calm your head, heart, and hands as you slowly breathe in . . . and out. (Demonstrate a few deep "in and out breaths" with eyes closed.)

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