Monday, January 22, 2018

Food from God's kitchen

Gathering Manna - Artist unknown
Gathering Manna - Artist unknown

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 16-18

TO CHEW ON: "So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over and he who gathered little had no lack." Exodus 16:18

Manna was the daily food for the Israelites that came straight from God's kitchen. It was first delivered one morning a-month-and-a-half after they left Egypt and continued for 40 years until they were on the doorstep of Canaan (Exodus 16:1, 35).

In today's reading we're given some lovely details about this food:
- It was on the ground every morning (except for the Sabbath day).
- It was small, round, as fine as frost (Exodus 16:14).
- It tasted like coriander and honey (Exodus 16:31).
- It melted in the heat (Exodus 16:21).
- It could be prepared in various ways. Our passage mentions baking and boiling (Exodus 16:23).
- It was called "manna" (literally "what?" Exodus 16:31) , referred to as "bread (Exodus 16:15, 22, 29), and compared to "wafers (Exodus 16:31).
- There was always enough for everyone.
- It normally spoiled overnight, smelled bad, and bred worms if saved (Exodus 16:20).
- But the manna gathered on the sixth day for use on the Sabbath kept just fine (Exodus 16:23-24).
- Even more strange, the omer of manna collected as a memorial lasted for years (Exodus 16:33-34).
- Moses and God took obedience to the details of its gathering and use on the Sabbath very seriously (Exodus 16:19-20; 28-29).

Manna is often viewed by scholars and Bible teachers as a symbol of the way God provides for us. My Bible's study notes refer to it this way:
"The food supply comes morning by morning in God's time, according to God's plan. The supply cannot be stored up for future use, except for the Sabbath. It is to be used only as God has specified (vs. 20) a miraculous demonstration of His provision to meet the needs of His people" J. C. Tollett,  New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 98.

It's a great metaphor for God's  provision in so many ways.
  • Like manna, God's provision for us so often comes at the time we need it. (Jesus prayed: "… give us this day our daily bread" - Matthew 6:11).
  • His provision is also often just enough for our need. I've heard many stories of people getting money in the mail or as a gift in the precise amount needed.
  • But it is also under His command. Like the manna didn't keep the rules of spoilage on the sixth day, God can override the laws of time and space when He wants to, stretching oil and meal (1 Kings 17:8-16), multiplying loaves and fishes (John 6:5-13), adapting the manna He sends to our specific need.
  • How we handle God's provision for us may also be a test—as we've seen several times this month. Just to review Moses' explanation of this to the Israelites: "And you shall remember that 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.

- But perhaps the most beautiful comparison of manna as provision comes as we reflect on Jesus and how He is spiritual manna (bread) to us.
  •  He is the bread of life (John 6:35,48). He enacted  this when He broke bread with the disciples, telling them:
"Take, eat this is My body" - Mark 14:22.  
He explained what this meant: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world”  John 6:48-51.
  • There's even a memorial component. As the manna was kept in remembrance, we too remember and celebrate Jesus, the bread of life, every time we take part in the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:24).

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your manna provision for me, materially and spiritually. Amen.

This Psalm is prophetic of Jesus' death, a reminder of all that His death mentioned above entailed. This psalm contains this verse, that reminds us that the food He gives in this way is available to all:

 "The poor shall eat and be satisfied; 
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD - Psalm 22:26.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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