God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites saw the great power of the LORD. As a result, they feared and believed in the LORD and his servant Moses (14:31). Their response was a song of praise (15:1) and playing the timbrel and dancing (15:20). Yet how quickly they forgot His great power and started grumbling when they thought He would not provide water to drink (15:24)!
In Exodus 16, we see further doubt in God’s power followed by grumbling in the wilderness of Sin. They even wanted to go back to Egypt because although they were oppressed and in slavery, at least there was plenty of food to eat (see song below). God responded to their grumbling by sending “bread from heaven” in the form of “manna” which is the Hebrew word man hu which literally means “What is it?” They were to gather two quarts every morning and a double portion on the Sabbath. If they gathered more it would rot. It should be noted that this is the first mention of the word “Sabbath” in the Bible. It is alluded to in the creation account when the God rested on the seventh day in Genesis 2:2-3. The Hebrew words “seventh” and “rested” are similar. In Exodus 20, we will see this concept of the Sabbath expanded upon in the giving of the Ten Commandments.
God also provided meat in the evening in the form of quail (16:13). This small game bird is similar to the pheasant and grouse. It still migrates south from Palestine and Arabia to Central Africa in the fall and returns in the spring.
They were to keep one omer (two quarts) of the manna in a jar as a reminder of God’s goodness and provision to future generations. This was to be kept before “the Testimony.” This refers to the two tablets of the Law which were in the “ark of the Testimony” that we will read about in Exodus 25.
The chapter concludes by saying that the Israelites ate this manna for forty years until they came to the land of Canaan. This did not happen until Joshua 5:10-12 when the Israelites came to Gilgal (near Jericho on the west side of the Jordan River north of the Salt Sea) and celebrated their first Passover in the land of Canaan.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
Then the LORD said to Moses,
"Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you."
Jesus quoted this verse from Exodus 16 in John 6:31. In subsequent verses in John 6, he referred to Himself as “the true bread out of heaven”(6:32), “the bread of God”(6:33), “the bread of life”(6:35, 48), and “the living bread that came down out of heaven"(6:51). As bread gave life to the Israelites in the wilderness, so Jesus gave life to the world! It is also interesting to note that a popular Jewish notion was that there would be a renewing of the sending of manna when the Messiah came into the world. Jesus asserted that there would be no manna because He was the manna and all they needed for life. He would not sustain them for just forty years but forever. Some commentators believe that the Greek implies that Jesus said I am the “bread that is living” and/or “the bread that gives life” in 16:35.
Is Jesus all I need? That is a question I am asking myself today as I reflect upon this chapter in Exodus and the parallel chapter in John 6. Do I really believe that God will provide for my every need, or do I reveal my unbelief by my grumbling and complaining about things I think I need and He should be giving me?
I have listened to the hearts of many women over the years. Sometimes, I hear their disappointments when God does not seem to be coming through in the way they had envisioned He should have come through. It might be in relation to disappointment in their spouse (or lack of one) or feeling like God should provide good friends and fellowship or financial freedom or a baby or obedient children etc. Often, we evaluate God's love for us in how He is or is not providing for us when God has a sovereign purpose in why He is not meeting that desire. Often God just wants to test us to see if our hearts are totally His. He is not doing the testing to punish us but to draw us in trust to His side. He wants us to know that He is all we really need, and we can trust Him to provide what is best for us.
Is He all you need? Meditate on John 6 and meditate on Jesus as the “bread of life” who sustains you. Talk to God about your needs versus your wants. Have your wants and desires turned into demands? Have they progressed to the form of an idol in your life?
This is SUCH an important concept to grasp and this article is helpful:
The Progression of an Idol
Can you let go of your demands that have turned to idols and trust God to provide everything you really need?
Lord, my heart goes out in the words to that song "You're all I want/You're all I've ever needed." Help us to desire only You. Help us to know that You will provide for our every need. We praise You as our loving, sovereign, provider God. Amen.
JUST FOR FUN
This song has been going through my head as I have typed this post about manna. It is silly, but it strikes at the heart of the grumbling of Egypt. You can listen to it HERE.
“So You Wanna’ Go Back to Egypt” by Keith Green
So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it's warm and secure.
Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure?
You wanted to live in the Land of Promise, but now it's getting so hard.
Are you sorry you're out here in the desert, instead of your own backyard?
Eating leeks and onions by the Nile.
Ooh what breath, but dining out in style.
Ooh, my life's on the skids.
Give me the pyramids.
Well there's nothing to do but travel, and we sure travel a lot.
'Cause it's hard to keep your feet from moving when the sand gets so hot.
And in the morning it's manna hotcakes. We snack on manna all day.
And they sure had a winner last night for dinner, flaming manna soufflé.
Well we once complained for something new to munch.
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch.
Ooh, such fire and smoke.
Can't God even take a joke…Huh?….(NO!)
So you wanna go back to Egypt, where old friends wait for you.
You can throw a big party and tell the whole gang, that what they said was all true.
And this Moses acts like a big-shot, who does he think he is.
It's true that God works lots of miracles, but Moses thinks they're all his.
Well I'm having so much trouble even now.
Why'd he get so mad about that cow, that golden cow.
Moses sits rather idle, he just sits around.
He just sits around and writes the Bible.
Oh, Moses, put down your pen.
What…Oh no, manna again?
Oh, manna waffles….Manna burgers...
Manna bagels...Fillet of manna...