It’s appearance was like Coriander with an indistinguishable hint of fragrance. It glistened with a pearl like luster and its taste? I guess one might say it was congruent with its origin. A wafer thin heavenly bread tasting as if it were cooked in oil and finished with a touch of honey. ( Numbers 11:7) They ate it raw, ground it and baked cakes with it. This manna appeared suddenly one day with the early morning dew. As the Israelite’s rose to discover this unusual sight, words of astonishment fell from their lips. “What is it?” they asked one another. Hence its name in Hebrew means just that. WHAT IS IT? As is often the case it was more than it seemed. Their heaven sent sustenance, yes, but it foretold something greater than they could imagine.
“Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations” Moses told Aaron. So in the Holy of Holies, guarded by the intricately woven Cherubim veil, this most holy place safeguarded the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod and the tablets of the testimony bearing the ten commandments.
In not many days the joy and gratitude for this miraculous provision turned to loathing. Having their every need met by the miraculous, they lusted for the familiarity of sin.
“But now we have lost our appetite! We never see anything but this manna!” they complained. “Meat, we want meat….why did we come out of Egypt?” (Numbers 11) And God satisfied their cravings as He “rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas.” (Psalm 78: 27) But God was not pleased with their yearning, for at its core it was covetousness. It spoke of an appetite not for the things of God but for a life of sensual pleasure and idolatry. Like us, they were not only slaves to Pharaoh but to their corrupt, death ridden natures. And He longed to deliver them.
Forty years later, Joshua safely brought this nation into the promised land. It was there they celebrated their first Passover and ate its fruit and the heavenly manna ceased.
Silently lying in its sacred bowl, the presence of God abode with this miraculous bread from heaven in the Holy of Holies. As it could only be.
I was startled to learn the Hebrew word omer, in its root amar, means: to pile on blows of chastisement, to deal tyrannically with, to treat as a slave. Another surprise was the characteristic ascribed to manna in scripture: The propensity for vast multiplication. The Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart.
“Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, 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. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that come down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” ( John 6:32, 48-50)
“What is it?” they asked. “What is it?” you may wonder. It is the perfect sacrifice of the Father’s Son. The Spotless Lamb. The grain of wheat planted in the earth to die only to bring forth much fruit. Our Lord Jesus, the true manna took the blows of chastisement for our peace and suffered the scourge of a cat of nine tails for our healing. He tyrannically paid a debt He never owed and lay dead in a borrowed tomb. During those three days He erased the death sentence for each one of us. He apprehended the keys of Hell and He decimated the power of the grave. When He resurrected He resurrected an entirely new creation, a new breed of creation. He became the first born of many brethren.
The omer of manna in the pot was even the designated quota (ten percent) God chose for His First Fruits Offering. As He resurrected on the third day Jesus did so with a magnificent First Fruit offering for His Father. For many of the bodies of the saints arose and entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Mathew 27: 52-53)
My prayer is that the Lord will give us an appetite for the food that truly satisfies. The Bread from heaven and the water of life of His Spirit that springs up to eternal life and eternal joy. It really is the only thing that completes the human heart regardless of circumstance. It makes all the wonderful things of earth pale in comparison and it utterly satisfies.
Jesus the Bread of Life. The manna that heals our broken spirits, renews our worn out bodies and transforms our spirits to the new breed of creation Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for.