I love food. I mean, what’s not to love? The taste, the satisfaction, the variety, the smell (most of the time). The delight of sweet and the sensation of salty. And when you mix the two. (Hold on, I need a minute.)
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 16
Key Verse: “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.” Deuteronomy 8:3
Then there’s breakfast. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, coffee. You know it’s a good thing if restaurants advertise they serve it all day long. Furthermore, I don’t skip meals. And if I’m forced to, it’s not pretty. OK, I admit it, I get hangry. (hungry/angry)
But according to Exodus 16, I’m not the first to have this problem. (Nor will I be the last.)
The Israelites had been out and about for a month. Leaving Elim but not yet to Sinai they found themselves in the wilderness of Sin. Meaning they’d left the delightful shade of the palm trees but hadn’t quite made it to the mountain of God.
And they were hungry! All two million of them – or however many there were. In fact, the whole congregation grumbled against Moses and Aaron 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 the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (v. 3).
See, they were hangry. In one fell swoop they rejected God’s leadership, stomped on His redemption, blamed Moses/God for trying to kill them, and embellished the life they’d lived in Egypt. Cherishing their captivity instead of their freedom. (Hmmm, I don’t think it’s by accident they were wandering in the wilderness of Sin.)
After all God had done for them, He should have pummeled them right then and there, don’t you think? Problem is, then He’d have to pummel all of us because like it or not we’re guilty of the same sins. Blaming God. Wishing away our current circumstances. Cherishing the old life instead of the new. Embellishing things of the past instead of faithfully moving forward in the present. (At least I’m guilty on all accounts.)
But instead of setting the Israelites straight. Instead of reminding them they had flocks and herds for food if necessary. (Silly people.) Instead of reiterating His promise to bring them safely to the mountain of God and not starve them, He gave them manna.
It was grace in the wilderness of sin. Beautiful, undeserved grace for a people God chose to love not because of who they were but because of who He is. Filling them morning after morning with bread from heaven.
But it wasn’t loaves of bread like we think of. “It was like coriander seed, white and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (v. 31). “A fine, flake like thing, fine as frost on the ground” (v. 14). And faithfully, day after day, year after year, God provided it until they reached the promised land. (Except on the Sabbath.) For forty years God fed them this way, providing for them, nourishing them, raining grace upon them daily.
And you know what, he’s still doing the same for us. Jesus said to the hungry crowd in John 6:32, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave 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” (v. 34).
Grace in the wilderness of sin. That’s what we have day after day in Jesus Christ.
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (v. 35). Not physically speaking of course. Our bodies were made for food. But spiritually speaking, Jesus is the manna, the provision we need to live.
And we feed on him through the Scriptures. For Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Revelation 19:13 says, “the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” Thus the correlations between the manna and the Word are many.
- The manna was miraculous. It was supernaturally given, not man made. As was the birth of Christ, along with the Word we now hold in our hands. “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
- The manna was gathered daily. They weren’t allowed to gather a week’s supply in one fell swoop. They were to get it fresh each morning. Just like we can’t gather a week’s supply of God’s Word on Sunday. It needs to be fresh daily to provide the nourishment we need. (“Give us this day our daily bread” Matt. 6:11.)
- The manna was near. Every morning it was right outside their tents. When they walked outside they had a choice to either gather it or trample over it. Like it or not, we have the same choice. Jesus is near to all who call on him in truth. He came and “tabernacled” among men. His Word is readily available. But we have a choice to make. We can either take the time to gather it or we can walk out our door, ignoring the Lord and trample it.
- There was more than enough for everyone. This blows my mind. Exodus 16:16 states that each person was to collect an “omer.” An omer was about 6 pints. So with a conservative estimate of two million people, we’re talking 12 million pints of manna or 9 million pounds every day. Or as Arthur Pink put it, “Hence, ten trains, each having thirty cars and each car having in it fifteen tons, would be needed for a single day’s supply” (Gleanings in Exodus, p.124). But is it any surprise, since God’s word has always been and will always be more than enough for a world in need?
- The manna was gathered first thing in the morning. A reminder to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
- The manna revealed God’s glory. In reference to the manna Moses tells the Israelites, “In the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD” (Ex. 16:7). Right there in the wilderness of Sin, the glory of God came forth. As did the glory of God in Christ in a land rampant with sin. “And we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14b).
- The manna was preserved. In a jar, as a remembrance of God’s provision to the generations to come; just as God’s word has been preserved for each generation to come.
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth,” Psalm 119:103.
He’s provided the sustenance we need my friend and modeled for us how to use it. When tempted by Satan after forty days and forty nights of fasting in the desert, Jesus responded to Satan’s lure with Deuteronomy 8:2. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The question is, will we eat it?
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is the Word of God sweet to you?
When and how do you daily nourish yourself in the Word?
Is time in His Word a habit or a hope?