Every Thought Captive

What’s Your Comfort Food?

Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there He tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because He has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against Him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”

All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

Exodus 15:22–26; Exodus 16:1–8; Exodus 17:1–7

When I was growing up, my parents had a small refrigerator magnet that said, “God has not lost His recipe for manna.” Even though I didn’t fully understand that concept as a child, I grew to understand my parents’ trust in God, that He would provide our family’s needs. I watched my parents turn to the Lord when times were tough financially, and I saw the amazing things God did to provide for our family. As a child, I didn’t feel the pressure, the need, or the fear that my parents felt, but seeing how they responded modeled trust in God to me. Their trust taught me to believe God saw us, heard our prayers, and acted on our behalf, often in surprising ways. One of the ways we saw a miraculous provision was a package for our family dropped anonymously at my grandparents' door while we were having Christmas Eve dinner. In the package were five $100 bills!

God also taught the Israelites to trust Him when He delivered them out of Egypt. In this Exodus passage, we see the Israelites experiencing hunger and thirst in the desert. Their response is to grumble and test God. They accuse Moses of bringing them out to die in the desert. They irrationally remember Egypt and slavery as something they would like to go back to, forgetting their horrible misery and God’s miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea. We do the same thing. In our need and pain, we accuse and grumble against God. Tim Keller said, "We often ask, 'What has God done for me lately?'” We forget the deliverance and provision God has shown us in the past. Especially, we forget His lavish mercy and grace shown to us in Jesus. We forget how much God loves us, demonstrated in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

Despite the Israelites’ grumbling, God had mercy on them. He heard their grumbling. He provided them with miraculous daily bread - manna - “bread from heaven.” God faithfully gave them manna every day for 40 years. He also provided much-needed water from the rock. Water gushed from the rock. Both of these provisions are beautiful pictures of Jesus Himself, who said, “I am the bread from heaven. I am the bread of life.” (John 6:33, 35) and “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37) In God’s abundant and faithful provision, He is showing them He is always with them, giving Himself to His children.

Why does God give them this test of hunger and thirst? Moses explains in Deuteronomy 8:3, “And He [God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” And in Exodus 16:6, “So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, ‘At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning, you shall see the glory of the LORD, because He has heard your grumbling against the LORD.’”

Did they believe God was as essential to them as bread and water? Do we believe He is that essential to us each day? Just like we eat meals three times a day, we need to feed on Him every day. We can’t eat all our meals on Sunday and none during the week. God uses painful circumstances to teach His people to trust Him and trust His ways. He wants our need to cause us to see Him as our provision. He wants our needs to show His sufficiency. “Can God spread a table in the desert?”(Psalm 78:19) YES! “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (Psalm 23:5) He is the One who satisfies our hunger and thirst. He is the One who says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

“Your words came, and I ate them, for they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (Jeremiah 15:16) “Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10) He knows the best way to provide, and He always gives us Himself. What has God done for me lately? Everything. He gives me Himself every day.

About the Author

Photograph of Leslie Newman

Leslie Newman

Coordinator & Discipler to Women's Ministry

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Leslie and her husband, David, have 3 children and 4 grandchildren who are the joy of her life. She loves to be outside any chance she gets, especially if that involves hiking, walking, or gardening.