40 Days to Jerusalem
The New Exodus Begins ‚Äì Day 27
Weekly Theme: Jesus Offers Us Provisions for the Journey
Today‚Äôs Meditation: Manna ‚Äì Bread from Heaven
In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, ‚ÄúIf only we had died by the Lord‚Äôs hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.‚Äù 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‚ÄúI will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.‚Äù 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‚ÄúIn the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him (Exodus 16:2-7).
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, ‚ÄúWhat is it?‚Äù For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, ‚ÄúIt is the bread the Lord has given you to eat‚Äù (Ex. 16:13-15).
The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, ‚ÄúThis is what the Lord has commanded: ‚ÄúTake an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.‚Äù 33 So Moses said to Aaron, ‚ÄúTake a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.‚Äù 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. 35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan (Exodus 16:31-35).
Six weeks after leaving Egypt, the Israelites were unhappy! Hunger does strange things to people. Apparently unfulfilled appetites make one forget demonstrations of transcendent power ‚Äì like the ten plagues culminating in the Passover/Death Angel experience, the parting of the Red Sea, the dramatic deaths of Pharaoh‚Äôs Army, the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night. It‚Äôs hard to imagine, but these displays of supremacy by Almighty God dissolved into displeasure as the Israelites sensed a rumbling in their tummies.
How much better it would have been if their request had been made prayerfully and reverently. Instead, with a strong sense of entitlement, the dissatisfaction of the people was voiced, and God heard their complaint. By this time, the Israelites should have known ‚Äì the Creator would care for them ‚Äì including their culinary concerns!
God instructed Moses that ‚Äúbread from heaven‚Äù would be supplied each day but the Sabbath. Twice as much could be collected on Friday in preparation for Saturday. Each morning that the flaky bread appeared, they were to gather some for each person. Amazingly, regardless of how much they collected, it always measured an omer, or about 3 pounds ‚Äì 6 pounds on Friday. At night, God provided quail for them to eat. According to verse 12, they ate manna in the morning and ‚Äúflesh‚Äù in the evening. This was the diet of the Children of Israel for 40 years until they could eat the fruit of Canaan. Pervasive grumbling was met with God‚Äôs gracious provision.
When I attended college, several of my Bible professors spent a great deal of time telling us why the Scriptural accounts of miracles, like Manna, could be explained scientifically. One argument that circulated was that this flaky substance was naturally produced by a plant. This is implausible. Consider first that God calls this substance, ‚Äúbread from heaven.‚Äù Second, the people did not know what it was ‚Äì it was new to their experience. If this were a plant residue, surely someone would have described it this way. Instead, they called it ‚Äúman hu‚Äù or ‚Äúwhat is it?‚Äù Third, the provisions were predictable over forty years of time. No plant could yield manna so consistently over this prolonged period. Not to mention the lack of production every Saturday! Finally, the collection of the bread, regardless of the amount, came out to one omer. This measurement phenomenon could not be explained by a plant. Manna was nothing less than miraculous bread from heaven!
Manna, it‚Äôs what‚Äôs for dinner (actually breakfast)‚Ä¶and much more. Exodus 16:32-34 reveals a fascinating requirement of God. Some of the manna was to be placed ‚Äúbefore the Lord,‚Äù that is, in the Tabernacle‚Äôs Most Holy Place. A jar of manna was kept within the Ark of the Covenant among the other ‚ÄúHoly objects‚Äù. Hebrews 9:3-4 makes this clear. ‚ÄúBehind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered Ark of the Covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron‚Äôs staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.‚Äù This jar of manna was to be retained so that the subsequent generations might see the heavenly bread that God had provided for the wilderness wandering. While this is the plain truth of Scripture, it is often missed. God intended for this jar of bread to be on reserve before Him as a holy and perpetual memorial.
Scripture offers us other clues about the nature of this supernatural bread. Psalm 78:23-25 tells us that, ‚Äú‚Ä¶He gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; 24 He rained down manna for the people to eat, He gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.‚Äù From this passage, it is clear that manna existed in heaven before ‚Äúthe doors of the heavens‚Äù were opened and it was ‚Äúsent‚Äùto the Israelites. By referring to manna as the ‚Äúbread of angels,‚Äù the Psalmist may well be implying that the angels have some role in keeping the manna.
One other passage is helpful. Revelation 2:17 also speaks of manna existing in heaven. ‚ÄúWhoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna.‚ÄùThe earthly Tabernacle and later the Temple were scaled down models or replicas of the Heavenly Tabernacle/Temple. Hebrews 8:5 says that the earthly sanctuary, ‚Äú...is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‚ÄúSee to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.‚Äù Could it be that God required manna to be ‚Äúhidden‚Äù in the Ark of the Covenant, not only to be a testimony to coming generations, but also because there is manna within the heavenly temple? This is in keeping with ‚Äúmaking everything according to the pattern‚Äùof ‚Äúwhat is in heaven.‚Äù
Finally, we are told that manna tasted like ‚Äúwafers of honey.‚Äù Exodus 3:8 shows us that the heavenly bread was actually a foretaste of the Promised Land. ‚ÄúSo I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey‚Ä¶‚Äù When the Promised Land was reached, the manna was no longer supplied (Joshua 5:10-12). So, while on their decades long journey, this supernatural bread from heaven served as a reminder to the Israelites that God would lead them to a new life in Canaan.
What amazing, miraculous, and tasty supernatural bread! Could there be bread any greater than this?
Prayer for Today
Praise God for offering us provisions for our journey to the Promised Land
Give thanks to Jesus, who leads the New Exodus
Ask the Holy Spirit, our travelling companion, to keep us from complaining
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unconfessed sin
Repent, confess and ask the Lord to forgive you
Receive His forgiveness
Ask the Lord to reveal to you one area in your life where negativity and grumbling should be replaced with gratefulness
Jesus said to them, ‚ÄúVery truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven (John 6:32).