Exodus 16

Exodus 16:Manna- The Breakfast of Champions

Manna in the Bible is a picture of the Lord Jesus who called Himself, ‘the Bread of Life’ in John 6. Manna also is a symbol of God’s Word.  And this reminds us Jesus was called the Word in John 1 and also tells us in John 8 and John 14- He is the  Truth.  What we want to look at in this lesson is the instructions God gives to the people of Israel in how to gather manna.

From this we will apply spiritually how we can gather our daily bread, our manna from God’s Word. To help us –‘study to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the truth’; I want us to remember three  principles that will help us be the most efficient in studying, meditating and gathering our daily bread for our own spiritual growth.

“ I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I know. Their names are WHAT and WHY and WHEN; and HOW and WHERE and WHO.” Rudyard Kipling.

“The slower we go, the more we see.” ( Anonymous)

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and the meal most often skipped.” ( Mayo Clinic)

The first quote is known by every newspaper reporter, writer and journalists, but these questions can also serve us in study of the Scriptures. They can guide us in our study.

Let’s start with Why we study the Bible:  direction; encouragement, prevent spiritual drifting, transforms our lives. ( Not a complete list- but you get the idea.)

Then we look at the scripture we are reading and apply these questions:  Who are the main characters and the audience; what are the main events; when did this take place; where did it take place; why did it take place and how did it happen and how do I apply these principles to my life. Also apply these when tests and trials come into our life.

The second quote about the slower we go, the more we see –  is similar to the quote- take time to smell the roses and other similar sentiments.  It is also what Ben Franklin observed when he said’  haste makes waste.’  We were at one time in a hurry to be older weren’t we; a hurry to leave home; a hurry to get started in a career ; a hurry to get married; a hurry to have children; and hurry to be successful. And now we look back and realize- why were we in such a hurry to get through something so precious as life and why did we waste so much time on things that are of no eternal consequence at all. Make sure you do not hurry in your devotional time and those six questions can guide you in your study time.

And last but not least- starting your day with a healthy breakfast has long been known to be a cornerstone for good health.  Our spiritual health also depends upon starting the day with our Daily Bread, the One who is called the Bread of Life. Make sure you take time to have both types of food each morning- physical and spiritual.

The Israelites are now approximately one month in their deliverance from Egypt; their freedom from slavery. They are in desert of Sin between Elim and Mount Sinai.  The rejoicing from their passage through the Red Sea where the Egyptians were destroyed did not last long.  Three days after that joyous event, their journey into the desert without water led them to bitterly complain to Moses. The rejoicing stopped and the complaining started. They were thirsty. They were in a dry and thirsty place.  Their mouths were dry, their lips cracked and their only desire was for water. Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. God was going to show them He was the only one who could satisfy their deepest longings.’ Like the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? ‘ (Psalm 42)   You see God is our source of everything we need. He will lead us to the place where we can find no rest- our hearts are restless. We long for something to quench our thirst the world has not been able to satisfy. And so the Lord brings us out of our slavery into freedom and leads us to a place where He  can begin the process of filling us with Himself as He cuts us off from the fleshpots of Egypt. It is a process. It takes time and God is in no hurry. There are no shortcuts. The slower we go, the more we see. There is more to life than the speed with which we live it. We are so impatient, when patience is an important part of the process of maturing.

Next came Marah, the bitter water made sweet and then the twelve springs at Elim, where each tribe had their own spring.  What a picture of the fruitful Christian experience.

Now several weeks later the whole community is grumbling and complaining about the leadership of Moses and Aaron.  ( Almost sound like Southern Baptists, don’t they?)

As I am preparing this lesson, I am in Fort Madison, Iowa.  But guess what? They changed the meeting location to Burlington, Iowa, 20 miles away. They also changed my time on the program placing my travel arrangements in disarray even further. I have complained to the parties involved and threatened to go home.  Then after reading this scripture- I have apologized to the involved parties.   When things do not go right or as we had planned- it produces stress doesn’t it? Our old nature rises up at  unexpected moments and all of sudden we are no different from the Israelites.  God allows us to be squeezed to reveal what lurks in our heart.

Remember the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites are a picture of our old nature which held us captive in sin.  The Pharaoh and his advisors realized when they let the Israelites go, they had let their work force go and said, ‘ what have we done?’ Your old nature is not going to give up without a fight. And your old nature is in alliance with the devil and a godless- Bible hating society and world which conspires against your new nature.  In other words, your old nature does not fight fair. And your old nature always picks an opportune time of testing to begin to question the wisdom of your decision to follow God. “ What have we done?”

Listen to the argument of the Israelites to Moses and Aaron. “ If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into the desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” ( Exodus 16:3) Does your old nature ever rise up in a stressful time of testing and lead you to imagine the worst possible scenario?  Notice also, the old nature wants to glorify the past and  minimize your sins and sinful behavior.

We must always be prepared for the battle. It can come after mountain top experiences and it can also come when we are tired, emotional or  stressed in some fashion. It can come after good news or bad news. We are the people of jam-packed schedules, scurrying to and fro, accumulating more and more stuff that takes up more and more of our time as we work to pay for and take care of stuff we bought. We live in a society and culture that emphasizes and rewards and achievements that come at the expense of  busy schedules. We worry about the security of our investments and strive to be financially independent and whether we admit it or not, we are still trying to impress others with  our accomplishments.

Jesus was never in a hurry was He? Walked everywhere and average walking speed is 3 miles per hour.   His ministry only lasted a little over three years. He never traveled over 60 miles from where He was born. Yet He accomplished so much in such a little time we need to observe how he did it. Have you not learned as you travel through life- the slower you go, the more you see?

Or are we like the Israelites worried about tomorrow, our provisions, what we will eat. Are we so busy going to and fro we are not slowing down to enjoy what life is really about?

Do we resent in moments of temptation- we can no longer enjoy sin?  Do we long to go back to our Egypt? Do we long to satisfy our sinful appetites?  If you are a former smoker- do you remember how when you were quitting how wonderful cigarette smoke smelled to you?

The early days of freedom, a new nature just beginning the journey is when your old nature is most easily aroused and tempts you to turn back at the first sign of testing.

God supplies the whole nation of Israel with manna in the morning and quail in the evening. Moses tell them God will ‘ rain down bread from heaven.’ God has given us everything we need and He is not stingy. He told Adam and Eve they could freely eat from all of the trees in the magnificent Garden of Eden but one.  In providing their daily bread, God has rained it down from heaven, with instructions to gather as much as they need.  Notice they must gather it early in the morning, for it appears like frost and will melt as the sun rises.

Here is a principle:  what God has graciously provided, we must industriously gather. Do you arise early in the morning to gather your daily bread?

Do you understand what God is doing with the Israelites?  He is putting them on a new diet. He is giving them an appetite for the things of God- the bread that comes down from heaven.  My old nature and your old nature had an appetite for the things of the world. We had no taste for the things of God, although He invited us to taste and see that it was good.

When times of trials occur in your life do you ask God – ‘why is this happening?’  Is this your main question?

Or do you wonder- How can I get out of this?

Or do you finally ask God- What can I get out of this? What lesson can I learn?

Interesting the manna was to be collected early in the morning before the sun melted it away. Do you see the application here:  we are to start our day early with the word of God, our daily bread, because if we wait too long to meet with God, the day becomes cluttered and the time melts away. “ And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating; and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.” ( Exodus 16:19-21)  Notice also the manna was gathered by each man. This was to be a personal experience.


In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John we read of an event in the ministry of Jesus where he fed the crowd with 5 loaves and two fish with 12 basketfuls left over. The next day the crowd found Jesus and Jesus told them they sought him not because of the miracles, but because he fed them.

The discourse that followed came as an answer to the crowd who asked Jesus-‘ what must we do, that we might work the works of God? This appears to be a sincere question. Jesus answers: “ This is the work of God that you believe on Him Whom He has sent.” ( John 6:29) Without faith it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him – must believe He is who He say He is and can do what He says He can do.

The Jews ask for a sign. They wanted Jesus to produce his credentials. And they referred to the manna their fathers did eat in the desert. Jesus then told them He was the true bread come down from heaven.

Jesus said “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they all died. I am the living bread which comes down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51) Guess what? Many quit following Jesus that day. His answers to their questions was to believe in Him. They wanted Him to do what they wanted and they also wanted to be able to say they deserved it.  They wanted their lifestyle plus Jesus. Not a life that was Jesus, and  Jesus alone. Their old natures wanted to coexist. Did not the devil promise Jesus he would give him the kingdoms of this world if he would bow down and worship him, the devil?

Moses  told Aaron to put a container of manna and lay it up for the generations. In the Holy of Holies there would be these three items in the ark :  Aaron’ rod that budded; the pot of manna; and the Ten Commandments.  The lid of the ark was the mercy seat where the High Priest sprinkled the blood.

The Ten Commandments speaks of the fact that Christ alone kept the Law, every jot and tittle. The bread speaks of his body given for us- our spiritual food. And Aaron’s rod which budded speaks of the resurrection. The blood sprinkled on the mercy seat  speaks of His Blood shed for us- His life for ours. Because of this God can extend mercy and forgiveness to man, the sinner.

Isn’t it interesting that Moses would tell the people in Deut. 8- that man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  Jesus after His Baptism and the beginning of His ministry was led by the Spirit into the  wilderness, just as God led the people of Israel all those years before. There Jesus would go without food for forty days as  He fasted an prayed to prepare for the ministry and to do God work. And we are told the tempter came to Jesus and said if you are the son of God command these rocks be turned into bread.  Jesus quoted this same scripture from Deuteronomy.

Now we know we will have problems and trouble in this world. Jesus told us that- but He also told us He had overcome the world.

Now we know the enemy can through our old nature get us to imagine the worst case scenarios- as the Israelites were prone to do. They were convinced they would starve to death.

Would complaining about the problem and imagining the worst case scenario solve the problem? No, of course not.  When dealing with problems we must first of all deal with facts – the reality of the problem, not our imagination. Take those thoughts captive and cast down those imaginations in obedience to Christ.( 2 Cor 10).

Now instead of complaining- pray. Lost your car keys and you are in a hurry?  Instead of getting stressed out- pray. Prayer quiets your soul and puts you in touch with the One who has all knowledge. He rearranges your priorities and your thinking. Real problems can be solved by careful thought, discussion with others and sound advice. But prayer comes first.

The slower we go, the more we see. You know why we miss so much of life?  We are moving too fast. I fly across the country numerous times per year.  I fly at 35,000 feet and over 500 miles per hour. What can I see?  Not much. No detail.

You know why else we miss seeing so much?  We have wandering eyes- the lust of the eyes. We must focus our eyes  on the Lord. We must set our eyes on things above,not on things on earth. What led Lot to move down to Sodom and Gomorrah? We are told in Genesis 13, quarreling arose between the herdsmen of Abraham and the herdsmen of Lot. So they decided to separate . Abraham would allow Lot to choose and he would take what Lot did not choose. In other words, Abraham trusted God  to choose for him. We are told Lot ‘ looked up and saw the whole plain of Jordan was well watered like the land of Egypt.’ We are told Lot chose for himself and he pitched his tent toward Sodom.  God said to Abraham: “ Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north, and south, east and west. All the land you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.” And God tells Abraham-“ Go, walk through the land, the length and breadth of it, for I am giving it to you.”

The land is consistently the symbol for us of the fullness of life in the Spirit of God. Filled with the fullness of God. This is all yours, if you are willing to let God make the choices in life for you. Lot chose for himself on the basis of what he saw, considering the physical and material aspects. If we will lift our eyes to see what God has already given us, to let God choose for us then we can enjoy life to the fullest- the abundant life.

Daily we make choices don’t we? Do we take time to lift up our eyes and look to the Lord for direction- or do we look like Lot did with a world view rather than a heavenly view?

When we get set free from the sin and sins that enslaved us, when we become new creatures, we need to understand who we are and what we possess.

Ask yourself this question:  in my life, do I want my life to be limited to my abilities or do I want God what God wants to do for me and through me?

Many people believe breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day.  Research shows children do better on tests who eat a healthy breakfast. People who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Breakfast makes one’s metabolism run higher. In other words – starting each day with a healthy breakfast is cornerstone of maintaining good health.

Starting your day with the Word of God, the Manna of heaven is necessary to maintaining a healthy spiritual life.

Manna is the breakfast of champions.