“Whatizit?” This was the name of the mascot of the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta. Actually, it was the name of the mascot until it was unveiled in 1992 and received a less than positive response. The concept was great: a creature that was neutral in nationality and gender that wore the Olympic rings in various places on its body and shape-shifted to become an athlete true to whichever Olympic event it was representing. The mascot underwent a facelift and name change before the ’96 games and became “Izzy”.
Back in the time of the Bible’s book of Exodus, the Israelites became familiar with God’s brand of “Whatizit?”- MANNA! God had just set His people free from their slavery under the hand of the Egyptians. Once they were free, they entered the desert on the way to a land that God had promised them. Food became scarce and they were scared and hangry. They complained to Moses asking if God had brought them out to the desert for them to die of hunger.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day…On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” Exodus 16:4-5
“…in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
“Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need.’’ Exodus 16: 13-14, 31
Manna provided for His people’s nutritional needs as well as their desire for food. Merriam Webster’s dictionary definition for manna is:
- food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness.
Interestingly, these two definitions are also included:
- divinely supplied spiritual nourishment
- a usually sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain
Nowadays, manna is used in everyday vocabulary such as: The team parent brought cold watermelon after our sweaty sports practice and it was manna from heaven. Manna is a blessing. It is more than we imagine. It satisfies. It is unexpected. This is the way God rolls!
Now the Israelites had to play their part:
- They had to trust God that it would be there each day.
I’m sure this was difficult at first. Having come from a place of hunger, I would have been tempted to take as much as possible instead of what I was told to measure out. If the Israelites did that, the manna stunk and got infested with maggots. Gross.
- They had to gather first thing in the morning. When it got hot, the manna melted away.
Not being a morning person, again, I’m sure I would have missed a morning or two…but then I would have had no food!
- God desired that they recognize Him for His provision.
God knows our needs better than we do. He provides accordingly. Interestingly, if the Israelites obeyed God’s instructions for measuring and gathering the manna each morning, it was never too much, and never too little.
God’s blessings remind me of the shapeshifting Whatizit? mascot. They are exactly what we need for each specific occasion. Additionally, His blessings were there for every day that the Israelites were in the wilderness, just like Whatizit? was there for every day of the Olympics. God stopped sending the manna when they entered the Promised Land, a land of plenty which satisfied their needs.
When it is hard and we are scared and hungry – spiritually, emotionally or physically – we trust Him for “our daily bread” – our manna. Where have we heard “daily bread” before? Jesus taught us how to pray with what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6: 9-13. We ask God to “give us this day our daily bread”. Now, you know where Jesus drew from – we are praying for manna! We can lean into that prayer because God has historically shown Himself faithful. As Moses told the Israelites before the first flake of manna fell, “in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord”. (Ex 16:7) Importantly, whether we are in a place of hunger or plenty, we must remember to thank Him for our blessings. They are new like dew every morning.