Our Daily Manna
In Matthew chapter four, Matthew records the devil's invitation to Jesus to turn stones into bread in the wilderness temptation. Consider that Jesus was 40 days into a Spirit-led fast, which would be about the time His body would be setting into emergency hunger mode and experiencing the most intense pangs.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
— Matthew 4:3
Jesus reply to him was
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
— Matthew 4:4
Jesus is quoting from the book of Deuteronomy and explains further our necessity and God's provision.
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
— Deuteronomy 8:3
Today's word study will look at the necessity and dependency on Jesus the living Word and bread of life, and all that He has to say to us as viewed through the lens of the Israelite children's wilderness experience in the Old Testament.
. . . everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
— Romans 15:4
The book of Exodus in the Old Testament records the events surrounding the children of Israel's deliverance from 400 years of slavery to the harsh and hard task master's that they were subject to in Egypt.
This event illustrates for us, from a New Testament perspective, our similar dilemma and bondage to the harsh taskmaster of sin that relegated us to the limitations of the finite physical realm and resulted in our permanent death, leaving us separated from God.
Moses is sent by God to deliver His people and illustrates Jesus, our deliverer, who bought and brought us out of slavery. Moses was instructed to sacrifice a lamb to accomplish this. Jesus was the lamb of God that accomplished salvation for us.
Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
— I Corinthians 5:7
God is successful, of course, and delivers them. They are brought miraculously to the other side of the Red Sea and led into a wilderness just as Jesus was. It would be a place where God would test and train His children to trust Him for everything.
The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
— Deuteronomy 8:2
The Israelite journey and experiences through the wilderness, as they head towards a promised land of milk and honey, leads to a plethora of relevant and applicable illustrations in our Christian walk through the wilderness of this world after receiving so great a salvation and deliverance.
. . . all these things happened to them for examples. They are written as an admonition to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come.
— I Corinthians 10:11
"The specter of desperation creates a student who is ready to learn. Hunger humbled Israel because it created in them a need so great that neither they nor anything they knew could meet it. Israel had a life threatening problem they could not solve. They were ready to learn . . . They would never have become his people unless they learned a life of utter dependence on Him."
— Eddie Broussard author of "Beauty in the Desert"
The God Who Is Enough
Two and a half months into their journey, God's people began to grumble and complain against Moses and Aaron.
“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
— Exodus 16:3
Interestingly, this accusation of the people is that they did not ask God or even ask Moses to ask God on their behalf for what they needed. They complained and blamed.
Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.
— Exodus 16:9
Whatever we are lacking and in need of physically, spiritually, and emotionally must be brought before the Lord to be heard and answered.
This thought brings us to our lesson concerning our need for "bread" and God's significant provision.
The Lord hears their complaint and tells Moses what He will do, then sends the provision of bread from heaven.
. . . the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not . . . in the morning a layer of dew was surrounding the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, on the surface of the wilderness there lay a small flaky thing . . . as fine as the frost on the ground. When the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was . . . The house of Israel named it manna (Manna means what is it)
— Exodus 16
They were told to gather a needed amount as expressed by the words "a certain quota." The terms "a certain quota" translate from a single and ubiquitous Hebrew word "davar," which means "word" or "thing." If I replace the phrase "A certain quota" with "word," it reads like this.
"And the people shall go out and gather a word every day."
I want to take it one step further and give the literal translation of "every day." It reads "of the day, in its day." So let us translate this on more time.
"And the people shall go out and gather the word of the day in its day."
This definition doesn't necessarily change the meaning of the verse so much as it adds clarity. It clearly states that God sends a word from heaven daily, and He is calling us to get up and gather our spiritual food for the day by going to His Word. It is necessary every day. If I ate a meal yesterday, it does not nourish me today. If I eat a meal today, it won't nourish me for tomorrow.
They were explicitly commanded not to try and gather to store up for the next day.
“Let no man leave any of it until the morning.”
— Exodus 16:19
We see that the "manna" is the bread that is necessary for their sustenance in their wilderness journey. The Israelites journey represents our journey through life on this side of heaven (the promised land). Our physical need is a representation of a greater eternal spiritual need.
The quote in Matthew 4:4
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God"
. . . translates the Greek word "rhema" as "word," and it is comparable in definition to the Word "davar" in Hebrew.
Here we see the "Word" as an even more vital necessity than our physical needs. And if Jesus was sustained by it, how much more must we.
In Isaiah 55, we read that our thoughts and ways just won't cut it, but we are invited to come up higher by receiving His Word that rains down from heaven upon us like the white flaky frosty looking manna of the wilderness.
Words Are Things
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
— Isaiah 55:10-11
His words are not just words. They are things that will accomplish something. In Western thought, we tend to think of words as nothing, but words have substance in Hebrew thought. They are active and alive and as real as the food we eat. Whatever God has spoken is out there, ready to be discovered, gathered, and consumed.
This idea makes sense when we also understand that the "Word" is not only a thing but a person.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God...He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
— John 1:1-3
Jesus declared that
“Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry . . .
— John 6:32-35
So when we spend time in His "Word," we are spending time with our God and Savior Jesus, with His thoughts, and His Ways. What a privilege!! What an honor to hear the Words of God sent forth from heaven.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
— John 15:4
No other better way to start your day than with a living Word from the Living Word, our necessary daily manna. Jesus' test of bread in the wilderness centered on who He would depend on for His life and sustenance. He passed the test because He did not lean on His own strength or ingenuity. His example to us is complete dependence on His Word.
It was in the morning that they were instructed to gather the manna. The reason is given in this verse.
So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.
— Exodus 16:21
When the sun became hot, it melted. In other words, if we wait until the heat of the day to try and gather His Word into our hearts, at the peak of its business and zeal, it is just going to melt away and not satiate and satisfy us. It is in the heat of the day that we are distracted and beginning to weary and not very receptive.
I love those who love me,
And those who seek me diligently will find me.
— Proverbs 8:17
I will conclude with this verse from Isaiah 55.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance . . .
. . . Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near
— Isaiah 55:2,6
© 2010 Tamarajo