God Provides Manna
The people are grumbling against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites have forgotten God’s power just a month after he delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians. Yahweh had brought plague after plague upon Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery. He had even divided the sea so the Hebrew people could escape Pharaoh’s army. But there they sat, in the wilderness, hungry, and the hunger in their stomachs had caused them to forget what Yahweh could do.
Amidst the grumbling and complaining, Yahweh comes to Moses and makes a promise to him. The people would truly know it was Yahweh who had brought them out of Egypt because Yahweh doesn’t just deliver his people from something. He delivers them to something. He wouldn’t just deliver them from slavery. He was going to deliver them to a land flowing with milk and honey and he would take care of them along the way. Yahweh tells Moses he would give the people bread by morning and meat by night.
That evening, quail came and covered the camp and the Hebrews had their fill. The next morning, the Hebrew people woke up to something strange on the ground. A white flakey substance had covered the desert floor. They said amongst themselves, manna, in Hebrew meaning, “What is this?” In modern English vernacular, we would say mann-ugh? Morning after morning they would find the substance on the ground and make bread out of it everyday.
Generations would pass and God would still be providing bread for the people but this bread would be different. Jesus would arrive in the flesh as living bread come down from heaven. If the people would follow him, they would never go hungry again.
Based on Exodus 16:1–18, John 6:51
Commentary on Mann-ugh?
Two principles stick out to me in this story.
The first is the deliverance from something to something. God doesn’t just rescue us from sin. That’s an incomplete understanding of what God is up to in the world. He delivers us from death to life. He delivered the Israelites from hopelessness to hope-filled-ness. Jesus is all about delivering us from an old way of life that leads to death to a new way of life that leads to fullness and rightness with the Father. God isn’t just rescuing us from ourselves so we don’t end up dead. He’s also blessing us with a new heaven and earth to come, where we enjoy what his eternal presence will bring.
Second, so much of the Hebrew scriptures point to Jesus. This story tells us of a people who desperately needs God’s help or they won’t get to where they’re headed. So God sends them sustenance to carry them through. In the Greek scriptures, this is the pattern we see with Jesus. Jesus is the sustenance who gives us life in order to make it through our own wilderness (this life) into the promised land (New Creation).
How does this story help me love God better? Despite our complaint, God still loves us. I’m always left without words knowing God doesn’t just want to save us from the stupid things we’ve done in life, but that he also want’s to bless us with what we don’t deserve.
How does this story help me love people better? We’re all in the wilderness whether we admit it or not. If I understand the sustenance that God provides, I need to be more than willing to share it with others so they have it too.