Yesterday morning, I awoke to find a thin layer of snow covering the ground outside. Our first snow of the year. Year after year, we find something beautiful about snow even though it can become a hassle. But there is something special about the first snow of the year. It always causes me to think about YHWH raining down manna on the Israelites after delivering them from the wrath of Pharaoh and the confusion that must have followed. What on earth did the Israelites think this manna stuff was? We read in the account in Exodus that ‘in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as the frost on the ground.’ It’s no surprise that the Israelites began to ask one another, ‘What is it?” Yes, what is it? First off, it is nourishment for the people of the Israelites; God had heard their cry and was now meeting this need of hunger. But I think it extends far beyond simply providing daily bread for the people. God has heard the cry of the Israelites and gives them meat and bread for a particular reason . . . that they will know that YHWH is the one true God. So while God is meeting the physical needs of these people, a subtle reminder is slipped in with it. God’s providence is new every morning and it is intended provide hope to help us through another day. But it is also to know that God has got things under wraps. That we depend on God’s transcendent providence; not on our own harvests and not on our own abilities. As we flip through the pages of Exodus, we find that manna and quail are not enough for the people. God’s providence of blessing the people with everything they need is not satisfying their desire for more.
I guess some things never change. We are still the same stubborn people today, never satisfied even when God has provided everything that we need. Just as the newness and freshness of the manna soon wore off for the Israelites, God’s providential touch soons gets lost in a myriad of wants and desires. Even with God’s providence imprinted on everyday, we soon become so accustomed to it that we forget the true substance behind it. It has been stripped of its meaning. God’s blessing becomes something we feel we are entitled to. And we forget (and forget often for that matter) that these blessings are not just for the sake of meeting our needs, but they remind us of God’s nature. Blessings hold a meaning beyond what meets the eye, and for a while, we remember that God is behind all of it. But just as the newness of snow will soon turn to disdain, and just as the manna became an entitlement and not a gift, we soon forget the touch of God’s hand. Oh how stubborn we are.