What is it?
…in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
Exodus 16:13-14 (NIV)
I wonder what it was like to lift the flap of the tent, step out into the new morning and see manna for the very first time. Perhaps the closest we can get to experiencing something like this is to wake up and see the ground sparkling in a hard frost. The temperature would, of course, be quite different, but the sense of awe may be similar.
The Bible says it was the Israelites themselves who gave God’s bread from heaven the name ‘manna’ – literally ‘what is it?’ We know it was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. That sounds pretty tasty; were there lots of excited squeals as they popped some into their mouths and then hurriedly gathered what they needed into their baskets? Did some immediately start to think of how they could cook it or what they could prepare to go with it? Did they offer their praises and thanksgiving to God, seeing Him once again provide for them in such an amazing way? We don’t know because the Bible doesn’t tell us.
What we do know is that the Israelites had been travelling for many days in the desert and the supplies of food they had with them when they left Egypt were dwindling. As their anxiety increased so did their grumbling. They lacked faith, focusing instead on the problem, giving it all their time and attention. They looked back to the past and their recollections weren’t honest. In their minds they exaggerated the good and forgot all about the bad. Then they blamed God, complaining that he had brought them out into the desert to starve them to death.
But we know this isn’t true because of who God is and we know the end of the story. In our own lives, however, our story is still being written; we have anxieties and problems and can so easily forget how God has helped us in the past. We can blame other people and sometimes even God for our predicament. We can become negative, worried and start grumbling. When we think like this we are focussing our time and attention on the problems instead of focussing on the One who can help us – it’s time for a reality check. Next time you pop a piece of bread or something similar in your mouth, focus on the one who provides not just all our physical needs but our spiritual ones too. Focus on the living bread that came down from heaven, Jesus Christ (John 6:32-33). We may eat of that bread and never die.
Our loving Father, we thank you for our physical and spiritual food but most importantly we thank you for Jesus Christ, the ‘bread of heaven’, in whom we have eternal life and in whose name we pray. Amen.
Study by Jackie Mill
About the writer:
Jackie Mill is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Co-Pastor for Scotland and Ireland.
Gilmerton New Church
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