It was now one month into their journey through the wilderness and the Israelites come to the Desert of Sin; situated just south of Elim on the northwestern side of the Sinai Peninsular (currently the states of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman). “The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.” <Ex.16:1 (NIV); cf Ex.12:2>. Here we see that the people did not remember, or did not learn from their first lesson at Marah, for it is recorded that they complained because of the lack of food, and to their complaint now was added the desire that they should have died in Egypt rather than facing the possibility of dying of starvation. It should be observed that we should never pray or express such thoughts to God when we fail to trust Him as we face the difficulties of life, for He may just grant us our wish, this, the Israelites discovered later on in their journey: “the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “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 this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”” <Ex.16:2-3 (NIV)>.
It is often the desire of Christians – followers of Christ – to desire the activities we had before our conversion. We begin with the small things and gradually progress to the bigger things, as we personally decide that we are strong enough in our faith, and such activities do not have the influence that they once had on us. This is another lie of Satan and we must be on our guard! Here we find that the Israelites are desirous for the meat and other foods they had in Egypt; and in similarity, Christians should be aware that being desirous of worldly activities can be dangerous <see Num.11:4-6, 34>. God has saved us from the slavery of sin by the shed blood of Christ on the Cross of Calvary, He has made us a new creation, and as such we have new desires in our activities, thoughts and actions which should bring glory to God, and not direct us back to our old way of living <see 2 Cor.5:17; cf Eph.2:10; Rom.12:1-2; Gal.5:1, 16>.
Here, the record states that God is now going to give another lesson to the people; “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” <Ex.16:4 (NIV)>. Egyptian food was no longer the diet for God’s people; God is now going to change their diet, providing them with the food necessary for their journey; worldly pleasure is no longer the requirement for the child of God, so He provides for us the food necessary for our spiritual journey. What was Manna? There have been many theories, but such theories cannot account for the abundance, the fact that it ceased on the seventh day, the fact that they collected and ate of it for forty years, or the fact that it was their staple food while on their wilderness journey. There is no doubt that it was an act of the supreme Grace of God as the Psalmist expresses <Ex.16:15, 26, 35; cf Psa.78:18-24>.
What then is the application for humanity and the followers of Christ today? God said that He would provide bread from heaven for the people, which was a representation of what was to be a future event, and Christ revealed this to His followers <see Jn.6:31-33>; Christ is the TRUE Bread from heaven! The Israelites had to collect the Manna each morning and eat it for their physical good; there would be no benefit to them just to collect it, they had to consume it. There could be no assimilation of its food benefit unless it was eaten by the people. Christ said to His followers: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” <Jn.6:48-51 (NIV)>. As the Israelites ate of the Manna, the follower of Christ must also eat (consume of) the Bread of Life, as Christ taught, for that is the only way that we can become more like Christ; it is through the assimilation of the food that one benefits from it. How then do we “eat” the Bread of Heaven? It is by feeding on God’s Word, The Scriptures, Christ Himself <Jn.1:1-5>, for Christ is the Word of God. Christ then is the new diet for the child of God, He is our Manna for our spiritual journey; He is the Manna necessary for spiritual sustenance by all mankind. So, we have to make the daily collection of our Manna by a careful study of God’s word, not only daily Bible reading, but a regular study of the Scriptures to see what God expects of us, seeking His guidance and teaching <see Jer.15:16>.
So, let us follow the instructions given to the Israelites: gather as much as you need <Ex.16:16-17>, neglect of God’s Word causes spiritual starvation. Collect the Manna as early as you can, before the anxieties and concerns of the day <Ex.16:21>, but remember that God is aware of our circumstances as we collect our Manna. Collect your Manna daily, it must be fresh and as it is consumed, we grow in the knowledge of Christ, and we will never lack an appetite for our heavenly Manna. However, never get to the place in your life where you show contempt for the Manna; this is the result of a turning back of the heart to Egypt <Acts 7:39>, they remembered the food they ate in Egypt, the previous way of life that they had left, the worldly enjoyments of their former state, and Satan made good use of these thoughts, and God’s Manna was scorned. In similarity this can occur in the life of Christ’s follower; do not allow your thoughts to take you back to your former way of life that was controlled by Satan; Christ is sufficient for all of His followers, but His sufficiency cannot be experienced when His Word is neglected, so let us follow the commands given to the Israelites and make our daily and constant collection of our Manna.