When the nation of Israel was in the desert between Egypt and the land God promised to give them, stuck in time-out, they needed something to eat. God supernaturally provided a substance called manna. It sustained them for forty years while in the Sinai Peninsula. Although the Bible describes manna, the explanation leaves me wanting. Apparently it was a nutritious foodstuff. It had multiple uses and physically nourished them, either in part or in whole, while living in the desert.
In a practical sense, God gave them manna to keep them alive. However, there’s more.
Moses writes that:
- God humbled his people. Being hungry will do that. Consider the implications to fasting.
- In their hunger, God provided for them.
- The lesson in this was that “man does not live on bread alone.” Yeah, Moses said that. Does it sound familiar?
- In addition to eating manna (bread) for physical sustenance, God wanted his people to also depend on him for their spiritual sustenance, living on his words – all of them.
Several centuries later, when Satan tempted Jesus to perform a miracle in order to feed himself, Jesus quoted Moses: “Man shall not live on bread alone.” The implication is that even more important than eating food, is hearing God. Spiritual needs trump the physical.
But there’s more. Later, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, one phrase was “Give us today our daily bread.” This is a request to meet both our physical and our spiritual needs.
Manna is a means to live, both physically and spiritually; we need both every day.
[Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4, Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3]
When the people of Israel were in the desert, God provided manna for their daily sustenance. He gave them some basic instructions about collecting the manna, but some people didn’t listen – or at least they didn’t do what God said.
He warned them not to stockpile the manna and try to save some for the next day. Those who did, found their hoard had become smelly and infested. I think the lesson was to rely on God for their daily bread, in this case manna.
On the day before the Sabbath, God said to collect enough for two days, because the next day was a day of rest. Those who ignored his instruction found no manna on the Sabbath and presumably went hungry. The lesson was for them to rest as God commanded them to do.
God provided for the people, but only those who obeyed him completely realized his full provision.
I wonder how often God does the same with us, trying to provide what we need, only for us to miss out because we don’t do what he says.
There was a man in Jericho who was boss of the people who collected taxes; he was quite rich. He wanted to catch a glimpse of Jesus, but couldn’t because he was a short rascal and the taller people blocked his view.
Ever resourceful, he ran ahead of the throng and climbed a tree; it was a sycamore. From his perch he watched Jesus walk towards him. The view was great and he finally achieved his objective; he got to see Jesus.
When Jesus reached the tree he glanced up and said, “Hey, dude, can I hang out at your place?
Not only did Shorty, as known as Zacchaeus, get to see Jesus, but he would soon have some one-on-one time. That was quite a reward for his diligence (Luke 19:1-10).
Although we don’t need to literally climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus, I wonder if it can be a metaphor for us to do whatever we need to do to see him. Maybe we need to slow down, not work so much, or watch less TV. Perhaps a relationship is in our way or the desire to accumulate money, power, and prestige. Or could it simply be that we’re in our own way, stubborn, closed-mind, or procrastinating.
Perhaps each of us has our own “sycamore tree” that we need to climb to see Jesus.
What would you add to the list?
Jesus taught his disciples to ask God for their daily bread, that is, the food they needed for the day.
Just as God provided manna for the Israelites in the desert, the implication is God will meet our needs each day.
We are not to ask for enough for the week, the month, or the whole year, but for only one day, today. Tomorrow we will need to ask again.
The instruction to ask daily isn’t because God is only powerful enough to supply our need for one day, but because God doesn’t want us to take him for granted. And if we seek him each day, that’s not likely to happen.
Plus, I think he enjoys hearing from us each morning.
[Exodus 16:14-32, Matthew 6:11]
When the nation of Israel was in the desert, God provided food for them each day. The Israelites called it manna and it miraculously appeared every morning. The manna would provide them with the sustenance they needed for that day. If they tried to gather extra and stockpile it, it would turn bad (except for the Sabbath). God gave them what they needed for that day but no more; it was essentially their daily bread.
Later on, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for God to give them their “daily bread.” The disciples surely connected that with Moses and the manna in the desert, and as a result they were assured God would faithfully provide for them each day.
This is just one of many amazing ways the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are connected.
Manna is the daily bread that God faithfully provides.
[Exodus 16:14-32, Matthew 6:11]