The manna God rained from heaven to feed the children of Israel for 40 years is a picture of Jesus Christ, the true bread from heaven. We need to gather the manna of the Word early every day to have strength to journey to heaven and fight our spiritual enemies.
Christ – Our Bread From Heaven
We rejoin the children of Israel this morning as they are traveling through the wilderness. Last Sunday, we saw how they responded when they had no water – they grumbled. Well, this morning we are going to see what took place when they had no food. Exodus 16:1-3 reads,
“Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
It appears that the sons of Israel had not learned anything from their previous trial at Marah. There they grumbled because there was no water, and here they grumbled because there was no food.
Now, I’m not belittling their plight. Just as in the case where they had no water, this was a desperate situation. Verse 2 says it was now the 15th day of the 2nd month since their departure from the land of Egypt. They had been traveling for six weeks now. All of the food they had brought with them had been eaten a long time ago. Perhaps they could find and kill some small animals near their camp at night, or find some wild berries nearby, but that would not be near enough for 2-3 million people! Perhaps they had been slowly butchering their livestock that they had brought with them. By now, they are in panic mode. Their food was gone, and they saw now way of getting more. For all they knew, the whole nation would soon perish of starvation out in the wilderness. It was in that desperate situation that God told Moses that He would provide their daily food. The manna stood between them and death. They hung all their hopes on it.
In John 6:31 the Jews said to Jesus, “Our fathers at the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.” Listen to how Christ responds to them, “Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.’ Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” So, what is Jesus saying here? Jesus is saying that He is the fulfillment of the manna God gave to the Israelites. He is the bread from heaven. The manna was just a shadow. Christ is the reality.
My friends, just as the manna saved the Israelites from perishing, so too God gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This morning I want to look at the manna as a picture of Jesus. Jesus is the Living Word, and the Scriptures are the Written Word. The way we commune with the Living Word is through the written Word. So, when we speak of the manna God provided, we can see it as a picture of both Christ and the Word of God. We’re going to look at three facets of the manna – the gift of the manna, the gathering of the manna, and the glory of the manna.
1. The Gift Of The Manna
The Manna Was Undeserved. What were the Israelites doing right before God gave them this manna? Verse 2 says, “The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” It wasn’t just a few of the Israelites, but the whole congregation! And really, to grumble against Moses, was to grumble against God, because God had appointed Moses as His representative to the people. Their hearts were filled with unbelief and ingratitude. God should have rained fire and brimstone down on them. Instead God rained down bread from heaven. God found a reason to bless them in Himself, not in them! Did you know it is exactly the same with us? Titus 3:5-7 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Folks, it wasn’t our deeds of righteousness that caused God to save us. It was His mercy and grace! Christ and salvation are totally undeserved by us!
The Manna Was a Gift. Notice Exodus 16:8, “Moses said, ‘This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him.” Again verse 15 says, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” The manna was a gift from God. God was not selling the manna. God didn’t expect them to pay Him back for the manna. They did nothing to deserve or earn the manna. They didn’t win it by their effort. The manna was a token of God’s grace and love. So too, Christ is the gift of God! 2 Cor. 9:15 says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” Just as the manna was God’s bread from heaven, so Jesus Christ came down from heaven. If God waited for us to deserve Christ, He’d be waiting till hell freezes over. It would never happen. Therefore, God out of His great heart of goodness, gave His only begotten Son for sinners.
The Manna Was Given In Abundance. Verse 16 says that each person received an omer apiece. Now, to the best of our knowledge, an omer is about 6 pints. That means that God was giving 12 million pints of food every day! That translates to about 4,500 tons of food every day. That’s 10 trains, each carrying 30 cars, each car carrying 15 tons of manna every day! That’s over 1 million tons of food a year! No one was ever left hungry. There was plenty of food. They could all eat until they were satisfied. No one was left out because there wasn’t enough to go around. My friends, there is enough in Christ to satisfy the spiritual needs of all men. Charles Spurgeon used to say, “I have a great need for Christ, but I have a great Christ for my need!” God is not stingy when it comes to providing for our salvation. No, salvation is full and free!
The Manna Was Available To All. If some of the Israelites perished from starvation, it was because they rejected God’s gift to them, not because there wasn’t any food for them. Listen to Romans 10:11-13, “For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Yes, it is true that God has chosen whom He will save from before the foundation of the world. But it is also true that He offers His Son to all men. Christ is suitable to the needs of all. He is available to all. If a man perishes, it is because He rejects the offered gift of the Son of God.
The Manna Had to Be Eaten. God didn’t give the manna so that they would admire it, or look at it. The manna could be laying around their tent doors, glittering in the morning sun, but it would do them no good at all, unless they gathered it up and ate it. If they didn’t eat it, they would die – it was as simple as that. So too, even though Christ is offered to all, and available to all, unless a sinner appropriates Him by faith, He will perish. It’s not enough to know about Christ, admire Christ, or speak well of Christ. He must eat Christ! He must take Him in. He must be vitally united to Christ or there will be no personal salvation at all.
Now, let’s reflect on
2. The Gathering Of The Manna
The Manna Had To Be Gathered By Every Person. Verse 18 says, “every man gathered as much as he should eat.” My friends, you must go to Christ for yourself. Your Mom or Dad can’t believe for you. They can’t repent for you. You are responsible to commune daily with Jesus Christ. You must feed on Christ through His Word every day. Remember, God has no grandchildren. You are either His child, or you are lost.
The Manna Had To Be Gathered Daily. Verse 21 says, “They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.” Here was the deal about the manna; you couldn’t gather up enough manna for the whole week. You couldn’t even gather enough manna for two or three days. You had to gather every day for that day. The only exception was that on the sixth day they could gather enough for that day and the Sabbath day. But, every other day, they could only gather for that particular day. If they did try to gather enough for more than one day, verse 20 says, “it bred worms and became foul.” My friends, you need to develop the discipline of gathering with Christ in His Word every day! You can’t live on past fellowship with Jesus, or past spiritual experiences. We must receive His mercies new every morning. What would you think if I told you that I had a new eating plan. From now on I am going to eat only on Sundays. But, I’m going to eat so much food on Sundays, that it will last me all week long. So, on Sundays, I just gorge myself. I eat, and eat, and eat, until I can’t consume another bite of food. Now, no doubt, you would think I was crazy! But that is how a lot of Christians live. They come to church on Sunday, trying to gorge themselves with spiritual food, and then never feed on the Word all week long! I’m so glad that we as a church are reading through the New Testament together, because if you will take this seriously, you will develop a very good habit. You will learn to come and gather up the Manna of the Word every day for your soul.
The Manna Had To Be Gathered Early in the Day. Verse 21 says, “They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.” They had to be up early so that they could gather the manna before the sun grew hot. If they slept in until noon, all the manna would have melted, and they would go hungry for that day. Going out and collecting the manna had to be the first priority of the day. It had to come before all other tasks. This tells us that we must become diligent in regards to feeding our souls. I know from personal experience, that if I do not make my time with Jesus top priority, and do it first thing in the morning, my opportunities for spiritual fellowship will melt away. Many times I have thought to myself, “I need to get this or that done, so I’ll do that first, and then I’ll have time with the Lord.” But, what happens? If you don’t have time with the Lord first, somehow it never happens. You know, there’s a reason they are called Spiritual Disciplines! We need to become disciplined in our relationship to Christ. Will you make time in the word and prayer your number one priority?
Now, let’s look at
3. The Glory Of The Manna
The Manna Was Mysterious. Verse 15 says, “When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” When a Hebrew said “what is it?” in the Hebrew language it sounded like “manna”, so the name stuck! You can imagine the Israelites’ confusion when they first saw the manna. What a strange sight! They looked around and saw this fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground, and all wondered what it might be. However, even though this was a strange new sight, it didn’t stop them from eating it. My friends, there are aspects of Jesus Christ that are very mysterious to us. Who can understand how He can be one person with a divine and human nature? We call that the hypostatic union. During the first three hundred years of the church, this was the great question – who is Jesus Christ? The Arians said He was a creation of God, just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Others said that He was God in human flesh, one person with two natures. There is much mystery in Jesus Christ. What mortal can fathom the Person of Christ perfectly this side of glory?
The Manna Was White. Verse 31 tells us that the manna was white in color. That is very fitting, because white is the color of purity in Scripture. In Revelation 7:9 we read of a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands.” The white robes stands for the perfect and pure righteousness of Jesus Christ that is counted as ours through faith. In verse 14 one of the elders says, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Now, that’s very interesting. These ones have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, and instead of turning their robes red, they have turned white. The blood of Christ purifies us and makes us clean before God. In Revelation 4:4 the twenty four elders are seen clothed in white garments with golden crowns on their heads. My friends, Christ is perfectly pure. There is no spot, or blemish, or imperfect in Him. Hebrews 7:26 says that Christ is holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.
The Manna Was Sweet To The Taste. Exodus 16:31 says “it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.” That actually sounds pretty delicious, doesn’t it? My friends, what does that tell you about Christ? He is sweet to our soul! The knowledge of Christ is pleasant and delightful. It brings many sweet pleasures to us. Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Folks, there is a sweetness in Christ that must be experienced. It must be tasted. No one can really adequately describe it. You must taste and experience Christ for yourself! Have you tasted His comfort when you were in distress? Have you tasted His instruction when you were ignorant? Have you tasted His chastening when you were rebellious? Have you tasted His love when you were unworthy? Psalm 34:8 says “O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” My friends, I want you to enjoy the Lord. I want you to take pleasure in the Lord. I want you to delight in His Word. He is sweet!
The Manna Was All-Sufficient. Verse 35 says, “The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.” Often manna was the only thing they had to eat. Yet, it had all the vitamins and minerals necessary to sustain their life. My friends, Jesus, like that manna, is all-sufficient. He is all you need. Jesus has forgiveness, fellowship, power, victory, love, and glory all in His hands. There is enough in Jesus to meet your every need, whatever it is. He is all-sufficient. If you had your family, but lost Jesus you would have nothing, but if you lost your family and still had Jesus, you would have everything!
The Manna Gave Strength for the Journey. Without the manna, the sons of Israel would grow weary or faint. However, with the manna they had the strength to march and fight. My friends, we need strength in our pilgrim journey. We are on our way to heaven, and we need strength to fight our spiritual enemies, and persevere to the end. Christ is the food for our souls. If you feed on Him, you will have the strength you need. If you neglect communion with Him, your strength will wane, and you will grow faint!
The Manna Was A Manifestation of God’s Glory. Verse 7 says, “and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord.” Well, how did they see the glory of the Lord? What happened in the morning? Verse 13-14 says, “in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.” You see, the manna was a manifestation of the glory of God. And, Jesus Christ is the glory of God! John says in John 1:14,18 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth… No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God. He is the glory of the invisible God.
My friends, my challenge to you today is to develop the spiritual discipline of communing with God first thing every day. This is absolutely essential. As long as this is not in place, don’t expect any major breakthroughs or spurts of spiritual growth in your life. Without daily, early, consistent communion with Christ through His Word, you will be weak and sickly.
Here are some ideas about how you can put this into practice in your life:
- Begin to read through the New Testament with the church a chapter a day. Ask the Lord to show you something from His Word. Then share what the Lord showed you in a text with the rest of the church.
- Pray about the things the Lord shows you. For example if you are learning about the need to be loving or patient, ask the Lord to work those virtues in you.
- Choose a passage of Scripture that the Lord has used in your life, and memorize it. It may be one verse, or a paragraph, or a chapter, or a whole book. Just take a verse a day, and mull it over again and again.
- Take time to worship the Lord in song at various times of the day. Thank Him throughout the day for the blessings in your life.
As you do these things you will be feeding on Christ our bread from heaven and you will be satisfied!
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