December 6, 2023
Picture: Manna from Heaven
Exodus 16:1-4 & 31; John 6:32-36
The last several months had been filled with peril and elation, certain doom and rescue. They had watched the most powerful nation in the world whimper under the heavy hand of the God of Israel. They had slipped through the clenched fist of the relentless Egyptian army by way of a dry path through an unassailable sea. But time had passed and the thrill of deliverance had been left to dry on the banks of their miracle. Moses’ song was but a faint echo drowned out by the hunger pangs that seemed to feed on the moral of the toddling nation. They needed bread, and the desolation around them created a nostalgia for the predictability of slavery that no one could have expected. They confronted their leader Moses saying,
“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, just as before, God sustains his people.
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."
Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
Instead of giving the people a means of depending on themselves, God would teach them to trust in Him. Each day they would have a visual reminder that God was with them, sustaining them in a place that would otherwise spell their doom. For forty years, God met the needs of His people this way. Over a thousand years later the ache for fulfillment and satisfaction was still burning in the hearts of mankind. Just as it does now, the world was stirring up an appetite that it could never satisfy. As Jesus was teaching a crowd, he heard the familiar sounds of hunger. After meeting their physical needs, Jesus offers himself as the answer for the deeper hunger that went by a thousand names. He said,
"Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe."
In just a matter of months, Jesus would break bread with His disciples the night before His death. He would give a new visual reminder that the bread is His body broken for mankind. Jesus is the Manna in the desert. He is what God has provided to sustain us through the perils of life and satisfy the hunger pangs in our souls. Yet, consuming this bread only happens through belief and submission to the Lordship of Jesus. On Christmas morning we wake up to find that the child in the manger would be the only bread that can satisfy our souls.