After feeding the 5000, Jesus made it clear that He would not continue feeding the multitudes physical food. He had come to be the Bread of Life, not to simply feed people on bread. And contrary to what the people wanted, He wouldn’t prove Himself to be Messiah by giving them bread out of heaven, as Moses had done. Besides, they had apparently forgotten how dissatisfied the Israelites were with the manna.
Manna, you may recall, was the food that miraculously appeared every morning for forty years. What it was, we don’t know. Neither did the Israelites. In fact, manna means, “what is it?” Whatever it was, it was nutritious, and they were instructed to gather as much as they wanted every day. Other than on the Sabbath, of course.
The manna started appearing after only a month and a half in the wilderness, when the Israelites started grumbling about being brought into the wilderness to starve to death. They had left Egypt with their flocks and herds, and had apparently been rationing the food supplies they had brought with them, but longed for the pots of meat they had in Egypt and the freedom to eat bread to the full. God responded by promising to send them all the bread they wanted every morning, and even some quail to eat in the evening.
After a year or so at Sinai, they were led by the cloud and pillar of fire to continue on their journey to the Promised Land. In a matter of days, they started complaining about the manna, and longed for the quantity and variety of foods they had had in Egypt. God responded by covering the ground with quail three feet deep, and they gorged themselves on it. Before long the quail became as loathsome to them as the manna.
The problem they faced in the wilderness wasn’t a lack of food, it was what is today called “food insecurity.” They didn’t trust that the God who had miraculously delivered them from bondage would care for their needs in the future. And, of course, they hadn’t been taught to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
While James does make it clear that we cannot ignore the physical needs of others, we must never forget that our primary responsibility is to teach, and to practice, walking by faith, and trusting God for our daily needs.
God Bless, Rick