When Heaven’s Bread Is Not Good Enough
By my count, there are at least fourteen recorded incidents of the children of Israel complaining after they were released from Egyptian bondage. The first two complaints after their crossing of the Red Sea were about daily provisions of water (Exodus 15:23-27) and food (Exodus 16:1-3). Having seen God’s power to quench their thirst just days earlier, Israel would have done well to remember that God would satisfy their hunger as well. Instead, they began to murmur and said to Moses and Aaron, “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3). In response to their demands, God provided quail in the evenings (Exodus 16:8,13) but also rained down bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4) so that it lay on the earth like the morning dew (Exodus 16:13). Not knowing what it was, the people called it “manna,” a word meaning, “what is it?”. Moses told them, “This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:15). The Father would continue to sustain Israel with heaven’s bread throughout their forty year period of wandering in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35).
Manna has been described in various ways. The inspired description says that “it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31) and “the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil” (Numbers 11:8). The Psalmist elevated the description when he wrote that, “Man did eat angels’ food.” (Psalm 78:25). No doubt, the human tongue has never tasted anything quite like manna, if not because of its flavor, then because of its origin. This was special. The provision of manna demonstrated God’s love and care for His people.
Going by Ussher’s chronology, about a year after the manna first appeared on the ground, Israel expressed their distaste for heaven’s bread. “But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” (Numbers 11:6). Just prior to that comment they had expressed their longing for the mundane melons, cucumbers, leeks, onions, garlic and fish that they had enjoyed while in Egypt. Never mind the fact that they were enslaved while they were eating this earthly fare. Disregard the truth that they worked under oppressive and inhumane conditions (Exodus 4:6-14). They had become dissatisfied with God’s provision. His food was no longer good enough for them. They would gladly forfeit their freedom for something different to eat, even though it was inferior to what they had been given by God.
When the Word became flesh, He referenced the manna that God had given to Israel. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” He went on to describe Himself as the bread of life, adding, “he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:32-35). The manna was angels’ food. Jesus is the angels’ Master (Hebrews 1:1-7). The manna satisfied physical hunger. Jesus satisfies spiritual needs. The manna would disappear the morning after it had rained down from heaven (Exodus 16:19-20). Jesus is eternal (Revelation 1:8).
As we Christians look at our lives, how would we rate our satisfaction with the spiritual food that God has provided in Jesus Christ? Do we take the time to study the written Word that He has given us so that we can more effectively serve Him and build our faith? Are we anxious to take what we have learned and be sure that others know the saving message that is the Gospel? Do we appreciate both physical and spiritual blessings that are in Christ? Are we striving to live lives of purity that honor God? OR, do we find ourselves looking back to what we had in our lives of sin and wishing that we could return to that world? Never mind the spiritual slavery. Disregard the brutality of the devilish taskmaster to whom we were once in bondage. Do we stare back like Lot’s wife and see a more comfortable, familiar and sensually pleasurable world than that in which we live as children of God? Are we, because of our ways, guilty of telling God that the spiritual bread that He sent us from heaven (Jesus) is not good enough for us? Just as the human tongue has never tasted anything like manna, our eternal souls will never know the true blessings of God, including salvation, if we go away from the Christ (Acts 4:12). Is heaven’s bread good enough for you?