“You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst. For forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing…”
God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian captivity with the purpose of bringing them into Canaan, which God Himself poetically describes as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Manna was God’s provision of food for the 40 years they wandered the desert.
There is a very interesting twist to the provision of manna. Although Jesus identified the manna with Himself (John 6:33), it was the biggest source of grumbling during the Israelites’ 40 years in the desert. Manna was a tedious diet where, no matter how they prepared it, it did not satisfy, and the Israelites grew sick of it. Surely they would have wanted no memory of it, yet God commanded Moses, “Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt” (Exodus 16:32).
There are three interesting descriptions of manna, giving us important clues as to its timeless meaning. Firstly, “it was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31). Secondly, it appeared as “a layer of dew around the camp” (16:13). It then dried and looked like frost, but its initial appearance was white and wet, which would have resembled milk. Thirdly, the manna “tasted like something made with olive oil” (Numbers 11:8). Throughout Scripture, oil is a consistent symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The fresh provision of manna every morning, white in appearance and with the taste of honey, would have reminded the Hebrew people of the real thing—the land flowing with milk and honey. Its taste of olive oil revealed to them the Holy Spirit’s presence as the One who sustains. The manna was the witness of the continual presence of the Holy Spirit among them, but to sustain is not to satisfy. It left Israel grumbling and wishing for an opportunity to go back to Egypt. Tragic as this was, it is an accurate picture of many Christians today. They have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour—the way out—but have failed to submit to Him as Lord.
The indwelling Spirit of Christ gets us out of Egypt, but the purpose is to bring us into Canaan where we live under the lordship of Christ with all the resources we have available to us in Him. From our initial encounter with Christ must come a continuing process of revelation and experience of Him, which can only derive from a living, active relationship with Him. We are then no longer fed on manna but have entered the land of milk and honey with the full provision of Christ, who not only sustains, but deeply satisfies.
PRAYER: Lord, I am grateful for all that we learn about You through Old Testament Scripture. Thank You for being my sustenance and the bread that deeply satisfies.