22On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” 24So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.” 27On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day. 31Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. 35The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36(An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)
The Children of Israel have lodged their complaint for food with Moses and he has taken it to God. In His infinite grace and wisdom, God has given a miraculous food supply in the form of Manna and Quail. But that provision comes with one regulation. That regulation is simple and clear: gather only enough for one day except on Fridays, gather enough for two days. Naturally, the people have to push the boundaries (as we have been doing since Adam and Eve who also had only one regulation!) and they learned that God wasn’t kidding when they possessed a jar full of smelly, wormy Manna. In the book of Numbers, we find a telling of this story with some added detail the relates to the giving of the quail.
Numbers 11 (selected verses)
4Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” 7Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. 8The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. 9When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it. 10Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. 13Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ 16Then the Lord said to Moses, 18Say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, 20but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you.”’ 21But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ 23And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” 31Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. 32And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.
Even after receiving Manna for food, Moses has the temerity to question how God will fill the people’s mouths with meat. God’s response is epic. “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” (NIV) That is just a fantastic response. After all the things that Moses and the people had seen God do, now Moses was going to questions God ability to provide. We can be shocking in our disbelief.
As I think back over my life with the Lord I lose count of His gracious provisions. And yet I can be just as shocking in my ability to doubt God’s power to take care of me. My ability to complain about what He has graciously given can defy logic sometimes. But I am grateful to report that my lack of trust doesn’t impact His willingness to take care of me. Even though He was angry with His Children He provided for them. I don’t blame Him for making it into a lesson along the way.