Why Everyone Needs Three Quarts of Manna

In the 1960’s a 3M engineer was trying to create a super strong adhesive.  Instead, he created the opposite, a lightweight tacky adhesive that left no residue.  No one knew what to do with the glue like it was, so nothing happened with it.  It took more than a decade for another engineer to use the glue to hold down his bookmark in his hymnal.  He thought it might be good to use on paper and for bookmarks, and then the Post-It note was born. 

This all happened before I was born, but it had a monumental impact on my life.  My desk is covered with sticky notes.  Things that occur to me while I’m doing something else, phone numbers of people, things I need to remember to do.  I’m what I like to call “absent minded” though my wife just calls me forgetful. Regardless, we all need ways of remembering thing sometime. I probably am more forgetful than others, but we all forget.  We all have a way of only thinking about what is in front of us, giving in to what someone called the “tyranny of the urgent.” There are pressing matters that need our attention right now.

When it comes to our walks with God, we often only think about what we need God to do for us in the future.  We all come to God with a list of things and places where we need to God to intercede. The requests that we have are often good and honest requests, for healing of loved ones, restoration of relationships, or strength of churches.   

But when we only focus on what we need God to do in the future we often forget the ways that God has worked for us in the past.  

God knows this about us, of course.  When the nation of Israel was wandering in the desert, God provided for them through the gift of manna.  Exodus 16 tells the story of how God provided bread and meat for the ungrateful nation. At the end of the chapter, Moses wants to make sure that the people don’t forget. 

Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” Exodus 16:32-33

Moses instructs the people to keep an omer, about three quarts, of manna in order to remind the people of how God worked on their behalf in the past.  The manna was to be a reminder to the people of the provision of God for the people of God, and was to encourage them to be confident of God’s love and care for them.  

We all need our own three quarts of manna. Our tendency to forget the provision of God in the past can cause us to rely on our own strength instead of the strength of God. These reminders of God’s love and care for us do three things to point us back to God.  

We need manna to remember our ineffectiveness
The nation of Israel could nothing to help themselves in the desert. They had no part in manna, it didn’t require them to water it, weed it, or anything else. All they had to do was go out and collect it. The sight of the three quarts of manna should have reminded them that they are weak but that he is strong.  In the same way, we need the reminders that it is not up to us, but up to God. While we might be ineffective, God is strong enough to supply all we need.  

We need manna to remember God supplies what we need
The supplies of manna were to be collected each day, and only enough for that day, the Sabbath being the exception.  God gave them what they needed each day, and nothing more. He literally gave them that day their daily bread. The reminders of God’s provision that we keep should do the same thing, reminding us that God has exactly what we need. We will never get all that our sinful hearts wants, but in Christ we will always have all we need.  

We need manna to remember that God’s plan is beyond what we can imagine
When the Israelites complained about the lack of food in the desert, I can’t imagine that any of them thought bread falling from the sky would be a solution.  When we are faced with trials or difficulties, we often think we know just the way God should respond. If only God would enact our plan, then all would be well. But the ways of God are higher than the ways of men, and thankfully God doesn’t listen to us.  The three quarts of manna should remind us that God’s plan is always better than the best of mens.  

We all have a tendency to forget. It’s why Jesus instructed us to “do this in remembrance of me.” You don’t have three quarts of manna sitting around your house, but you do have physical reminders of God’s goodness and grace to you. It might be a family member or friend, it might be a house or car, it might be a job or career.  The reminders of how God has worked in our lives in the past gives us the confidence to trust him for the future.  

How has God blessed you?  


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