DIG: Read 16:4 and John 6:57-61, 66. In both instances, how does God test whether or not His followers will walk in His word? How do you account for the presence of manna? Do you think it was a natural food or something unique and supernatural?
REFLECT: What is the difference between your wants and your needs? How has God provided for your needs? I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging for bread (Psalm 37:25). Is this true?
When the Israelites grumbled under the slavery of Egypt, Pharaoh took straw from them to make their lives harder. But here God met their grumbling with a gracious promise. Then ADONAI said to Moses His servant: I will rain down bread from heaven for you. That bread from heaven would be remembered and celebrated for generations to come (Psalm 78:24-25, 105:40; Nehemiah 9:15; John 6:31).302 When God refers to it in the Bible, He always refers to it as bread; but when the Israelites refer to it, they always refer to it as manna (16:31). What providential care! The LORD took care of the Israelites in somewhat the same fashion as He had in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-16). They received bread without toil.
The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day and no more. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow My instructions (16:4). The purpose was to test them to see if they would depend on Him. This command probably underscores Jesus’ model when He said: Give us each day our daily bread (Mark 6:11; Luke 11:3). On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much of it laying on the ground as they gather on the other days (16:5) in order to provide for the seventh day, the Sabbath, a day of rest (16:23).
No concept of Sabbath rest has been found in ancient Egypt. That fact alone highlights the differences between ADONAI and Pharaoh. The God of the Old Covenant was compassionate and caring towards His people; however, Pharaoh was merely an oppressive taskmaster. So today when those who love the LORD recite the commandment from the Torah to remember the Sabbath, they also remember their deliverance from slavery out of Egypt.
Manna as bread from heaven points to the coming of Jesus as the true bread from heaven, the bread of God, and the living bread that came down from heaven (John 6:32-33, 51), all in a spiritual sense (John 6:63). Yeshua, as both the bread of life (John 6:35, 48) and the source of the water of life (Revelation 21:6, 22:1 and 17), can therefore say to us: He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty (John 6:35). However, Jesus made a clear distinction between manna and Himself when he said: Our forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever (John 6:58). We will live forever when we believe in Him (John 6:40).303
Therefore, manna is a type of Christ. The Shechinah Glory was connected with the giving of the manna (John 1:14); it came down from heaven (Ephesians 4:10), it was a free gift from God (John 3:16), the manna was sent to Israel (Matthew 15:24), people had to gather their own manna, it was to be a personal experience (John 1:12), they were to be fed daily from it (Psalm 69:19); the manna was despised by those who were not God’s children (Numbers 11:4-6; Revelation 16:8-11), manna did not decay on the Sabbath day (Psalm 16:8-10), and it is now hidden (Revelation 2:17).
Another typological application of manna is found in the Old Covenant itself. We are told that God gave His people manna to teach them that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of ADONAI (Deuteronomy 8:3). At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus used that verse in the desert as Satan tempted Him with hunger (Matthew 4:1-4; Luke 4:1-4). In doing so He illustrated the important fact that spiritual food is just as important as physical food.
So Moses and Aaron said to the nation of Israel: In the evening you will know that it was ADONAI who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of ADONAI, because He has heard your grumbling against Him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us (16:6-7)? Two physical signs were given to Israel so that the people would stop their grumbling and see the foolishness of their ways. Moses declared: You will know that it was ADONAI when He gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because He has heard your grumbling against Him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against ADONAI (16:8). This verse is essentially the same as the previous one; however, the reiteration emphasizes that their grumblings were ultimately directed against God Himself.
Then the Shechinah Glory appeared with yet another one of its ministries, providing nourishment for the children of Israel. It called Moses, it led Israel, it protected Israel, it destroyed the Egyptians, and now it will provide the food the Israel will need for the next forty years. Aaron continued to act as Moses’ spokesman by saying: Say to the entire Israelite community, “Come before ADONAI in the cloud, for He has heard your grumbling.” While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the Shechinah Glory of ADONAI appearing in the cloud (16:9-10). He said to Moses His servant: I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am ADONAI your God” (16:11-12).
The desert experience of the Israelites is ours as well, but, as we see in Hebrews 3:9-10, with a slightly different twist. We are privileged to be living in the age in which the Kingdom of God has already come in Christ, although we still wait for His Second Coming. Even though we are fully capable of grumbling, complaining and gossiping ourselves, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to resist those sins (James 4:7). But if all we learn from this section is “don’t be a grumbler,” we will miss the riches it holds for us as we walk through the desert.
First, the desert is hostile territory to us and we are just passing through. It is still God’s world. It belongs to Him and He is still very much in control of His creation, although in ways not always clear to us. Just as the desert posed no barrier for God to act mightily on behalf of His people by providing food and water, the desert in which we live is fully at God’s disposal as well. We need to take comfort in the fact that we, even here, are the LORD's special people. But we should not become too comfortable where we are. We are to fully trust God while we are here (unlike the Israelites), while at the same time not allowing our current circumstance to define our ultimate reality. Our gaze must always be where we are going, not where we are. We must keep a light touch on this world.
Secondly, we must not judge our circumstances by how we see them, but how God wants us to see them. This is exactly what the Israelites were guilty of. They were guilty of self-centeredness. Throughout Exodus we have seen their inclination for defining their situation in terms of their own perceptions. Whether it was the lack of straw to make bricks or the advancing Egyptian army on the shore of the Sea of Reeds, the Israelites did not respond in a way that we would expect from people who have seen the LORD's mighty hand at work. Therefore, God wants us to look at the big picture. But seeing only our version of things is so natural to us! That, however, is the flesh. We need to live by the Spirit.304
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017