Manna from Heaven

This entry is part 392 of 394 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by PDPics from Pixabay

What food fell from the sky in the Bible?

The food God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness for all 40 years of their wilderness wandering, well, even they didn’t know what to call it. The Bible calls it “manna.” But that is just a transliteration of the original Hebrew, and it literally means, “What is it?”

We begin to read about manna in Exodus 16. God calls this substance that falls from heaven bread (Exodus 16:4). The people begin to complain about the wilderness not being like their wonderful days in Egypt. What they always seem to forget is that they were slaves in Egypt.

He also describes the way he will provide for the Israelites throughout the years they are in the wilderness. Every day for six days a week, he will rain down this bread like substance from heaven. And on the sixth day, he will give them a two day supply so that they can still honor the Sabbath.

Let’s not mistake the importance of what is said here. God provides for the Israelites without fail every day of their lives the bread they need to survive for 40 years in the wilderness. He is the God of all provision!

The people only complained about not having bread like they did in Egypt. God went the extra mile and provided meat for them every day as well. Exodus 16:15 describes manna as “a fine, sleek like thing, fine as frost on the ground” that came with the dew but stayed when it left. The Bible further describes it as “like coriander seed, white, tasting like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31).

God was teaching them to listen to him about his provision for them. Moses told them not to leave any of it by morning. When they didn’t listen, they found out that it went bad (Exodus 16:19-21).

God was teaching the Israelites that he is the Provider, but he was also teaching them to keep the Sabbath on the seventh day for which he provided extra (Exodus 16:22-26). He provided without fail for all of the years they were in the wilderness, 40 years, until they reached Canaan, the Promised Land.

Later the people complain about the quail that came from heaven, and many of them became sick from over eating it (Numbers 11:31-35). They cannot cease to complain about the provision that God has given them.

In the New Testament, Jesus refers to himself as the same type of bread that came from heaven, the Bread of Life (John 6:42-59). After feeding the 5000 with bread and fish, Jesus gets into a discussion with the religious leaders about himself being the provision from God, just like in the wilderness in the Old Testament with their forefathers.

His conversation with the Jews and their leaders degrades into them thinking he’s talking about feeding on his flesh and drinking his blood literally, an act of cannibalism. But Jesus is speaking figuratively, and many people understand this to be a conversation about the Lord’s Supper.

These are the main examples in the Bible of food coming down from heaven. Jesus is the most important because as the son of God, he came down from heaven and those who participate in believing in his sacrifice on the cross become his followers and part of God’s family.

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