In Part 1 we learned of the Israelites grumbling about manna. They could accept it as the bread from heaven and only ate it for the purpose of filling their stomachs. The Israelites’ attitude towards manna was to foreshadow how Jesus, the true manna from heaven would not be accepted too. Like the heavenly manna, Jesus also came in physical form. But just as they did not see manna as from heaven, they did not see Jesus as the God from heaven, but did to Him whatever they wanted, and eventually killing Jesus on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).
The Israelites ate the manna with the response ‘what is this?’. They did not give thanks but changed its shape and form to whatever they wanted and desired. Likewise, when we receive the Word of God, we must not take it according to how we want to understand it or edit and interpret it according to our needs and desires. Instead, let us receive and eat spiritual manna, the Word of God as God intended! And we will surely see the amazing changes this heavenly word will bring to our lives!
1. Method of gathering manna
(i) Gather morning by morning (Exodus 16:7-8, 12, 21)
Morning is boqer in Hebrew. When it is repeated, the emphasis is on the importance of that morning. Because manna would melt when the sun comes up, the Israelites needed to diligently get up early, go out and gather the day’s worth. This is to emphasize that the lazy will not be able to eat this spiritual food. Only the soul of the diligent can be satisfied (Proverbs 13:4). So let us be determined to gather manna each morning so that we may enjoy the blessings of God’s manna, God’s Word in our lives!
(ii) Gather when the layer of dew evaporated (Exodus 16:13-14)
Dew represents God’s Word, His teachings and grace (Deut 32:1-2). Therefore, we need to receive the Word of God first, which in turn gives us grace. After receiving God’s grace through the Word, is the manna, the food that will strengthen us and help us move forward. It is the hidden manna that Jesus will give (Revelation 2:17). And the “acceptable time” to receive grace is right now (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the right time to receive and store up as much grace as possible.
God’s grace is like dew. We don’t see it falling as it comes overnight in the dark. Even though we cannot see God’s grace in the darkness, yet when the morning comes, grace comes with it. Let us look forward to the morning and find God’s grace in our lives and the lives of our loved ones and those around us!
(iii) Gather a day’s portion every day (Exodus 16:4)
Contrary to God’s instruction, the Israelites left some manna till the next day and it spoilt (Exodus 16:20). God gives enough for each day, so we must not be greedy (Matthew 6:11). But just as we cannot eat one week’s worth of food in 1 seating and not eat till the next week, we also cannot read the bible once a week and expect it to last till the next Sunday. When God told them to gather daily, He was testing them, “whether they will walk in my instruction or not”. Let us be able to pass God’s test of walking in His word daily!
(iv) Gather twice as much on the 6th day and no manna on the 7th day
For the first 5 days, each person was to gather 1 omer each day. They were to gather 2 omers on the 6th day (Exodus 16:6, 21-22). But they were not to gather on the 7th day which is God’s Sabbath day. By giving the manna, God was teaching them how to observe the Sabbath and receive its blessings. For 2084 weeks in the wilderness, God faithfully provided manna without missing even 1 week. Let us believe that God is providing us with His grace and His manna without fail. All we need to do is to wake up daily in the morning and gather.
In the 4th commandment, God commanded that we are to keep the Sabbath holy. This can be achieved when we labour to serve and believe God faithfully over the previous 6 days. The Sabbath is therefore not just 1 day out of the week but the result of the 6 days’ work. And keeping the Sabbath (Lord’s Day) holy is setting the entire day apart for God. It is the basis and foundation of all blessings, so we must not miss even 1 Lord’s Day.
Manna is God’s blessing of His own heavenly food. In the Chinese and Korean languages, the etymology of the word “family” means those who eat at your table, the ones who eat your food. Likewise, manna is God preparing a heavenly table for His family, the chosen people of God. And what a privilege it is to be eating with God! May we eat daily at God’s table!
(v) No excess and no lack
The amount was just right for each person (Exodus 16:17-18). The grace and blessing of God is sufficient for each of us.
2. Method of keeping the manna
(i) To commemorate what God did in the wilderness, and for the Israelites to remember, they were to keep an omer of manna in every household (Exodus 16:22)
(ii) The high priest must keep a jar of an omer of manna in the ark of the covenant (Exodus 16:33)
Manna foreshadows Jesus and the Word of transfiguration to be given in the end. In Revelation 2:12-17, God promises the church of Pergamum the hidden manna to those who overcome. Verse 12 describes Jesus as the one who has the sharp two-edged sword, which is the Word of God. Verse 16 speaks of this word as the “sword of my mouth” that will either judge or bless us. And verse 17 reveals what we must overcome to receive this hidden manna.
Even though the church of Pergamum had not denied their faith, they had begun to follow the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Balaam had caused the Israelites to be lured by their weakness for ‘delicious’ food and beautiful Moabite women. In the process, they worshipped their idols and committed immorality. The teaching of Nicolaitans is the belief of complete separation between flesh, spirit and soul. Hence whatever is done in the flesh will not affect the spiritual state. But this is not true, for whatever is done in the flesh will affect our spirit and our soul.
This is evident in both the manna and Jesus who came down in the physical form. It emphasizes both humanity and divinity. By accepting Jesus the person (humanity) we are receiving Jesus the God (divinity). The flesh and spirit work together. Likewise, our flesh, spirit and soul are one. Therefore, to attain the hidden manna, we need to overcome the temptations of other teachings, a different gospel, and the wrong faith. Another strong angel in Revelation 10 gave the little book, the hidden manna to Apostle John to eat, and is the hidden manna we must eat today (Revelation 10:10)!