And he 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. (Deut 8:3 ESV)
God specifically allowed the nation of Israel to go hungry. And to keep them alive, He purposefully gave them manna to eat, a food which they “did not know.” They did not know it, they could not control it, they could take no pride in having said that their hands had produced it. It was like being in arm casts and having God spoon feed them on His schedule, the same stuff for forty years.
Why did God do this? He could have sent different food every day. He could have changed the desert into a fertile oasis that yielded crops. He could have supernaturally allowed them to go without food. He could have given them all of the foods that they had back in Egypt.
But instead God chose to spoon feed them manna for forty years. Why? Because they were a “stubborn” people, and they needed humility. And a sure path to humility is the recognition of dependency. The Israelites knew there was a God (they had seen and heard Him), they knew He was powerful (although their faith was weak Deut 1:32), but they wouldn’t acknowledge that they were dependent on Him. A prime example is Numbers 14, where Israel foolishly went to battle after Moses had warned them that God would not be with them, and were soundly beaten. In their pride and independence Israel thought that they could accomplish the purpose of God without needing the presence of God.
So God gave them a forty year object lesson, the lesson of manna, to teach them that man does not live by bread alone. But like any object lesson, the object (manna) was not the intended lesson. It was only meant to draw their gaze, to make them think, and finally to have them kneel before God in humility and dependency for their spiritual food as well as their physical food. God desired for them to see that the physical was only a reflection of the spiritual, and to let their physical hunger and dependence draw them into spiritual hunger and dependence, and for them to humbly turn to God for “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
So, what’s your object lesson? Where is God physically spoon feeding you? Limited income? Failed relationship? Physical illness? Where is God patiently waiting for you to fully turn to Him, in dependence and humility, and wait upon His every word for your life?