Remembering the Passover & Exodus: a selection of passages & meditations

"I will rain bread from heaven for you"

Scripture: Exodus 16:1-18,35

1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily."

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, "At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your murmurings against the LORD. For what are we, that you murmur against us?" 8 And Moses said, "When the LORD gives you in the evening flesh to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your murmurings which you murmur against him -- what are we? Your murmurings are not against us but against the LORD." 9 And Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, `Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your murmurings.'" 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

11 And the LORD said to Moses, 12 "I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel; say to them, `At twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'" 13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning dew lay round about the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: `Gather of it, every man of you, as much as he can eat; you shall take an omer apiece, according to the number of the persons whom each of you has in his tent.'" 17 And the people of Israel did so; they gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; each gathered according to what he could eat. 35 And the people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land; they ate the manna, till they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

Meditation: After safely passing through the Red Sea, the Israelites encounter the harsh life-threatening conditions of the desert wilderness. They lack food and water sufficient for survival. Once again they murmur and complain to Moses:"You have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." God responds by promising to rain bread from heaven. The word manna literally means what is this? The Israelites did not recognize this strange food from heaven. God tested them by declaring that they should daily gather only enough for one day's provision. Those who greedily saved more found their portion spoilt.

The manna was God's daily provision for his people as they journeyed through the barren wilderness to the Promised Land. We, likewise cannot survive our sojourn in the wilderness of this world to the Promised Land of heaven, without God's daily provision of spiritual food. What is that daily provision?

The manna in the wilderness points to Jesus, the true Bread from heaven. Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven..I am the true bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:32,35). The Lord feeds us with manna from heaven in the Eucharist or Lord's Supper, and he feeds us with his life-giving Word. In the Lord's Prayer we pray for our daily food that will sustain us on our journey. Do you allow the Lord to nourish you with the bread of heaven and with his life-giving word?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Bread of Life. May I always find nourishment at your table and strength in your life-giving word." 


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(c) 1999, 2001, 2002 Don Schwager