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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Exo 16; Jhn 6; The Manna from Heaven

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Portraits of Christ
“The Manna from Heaven” (Exodus 16; John 6)

  1. In troubled times men have called upon the name of the Lord.
    • He is known by many names.
    • But the name which has comforted God’s people throughout the wilderness wanderings was “Jehovah Jireh.”
    • This name means, “The Lord Provides.”
    • Because of God’s covenantal love, He keeps His promise to protect and provide for His people.
    • Even in the Book of Revelation, for example, as Christ walked in the midst of the seven candlesticks, He promised to provide for each representative church.
    • There wasn’t anything that escaped His attention.
    • He was intimately acquainted with their unique problems and pressures.
    • To the church at Pergamos, He made a promise based upon an Old Testament type, “To Him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.”
    • What did He mean by eating hidden manna?
    • Why did Christ make this promise to a church desperately struggling to remain faithful in a city known as, “Satan’s throne”?
    • And let’s be honest, how does this offer hope to anyone here this morning crying out to “Jehovah Jireh”?
    • To answer these questions, we first turn to Exodus 16 and then to John 6.
  2. Jesus taught His disciples the Old Testament types and shadows pointed to Him.
    • He trained His disciples to find references to Him throughout the Scriptures, beginning with Moses.
    • So as we approach Exodus 16, let’s keep our eyes open for spiritual truths which point to fulfillment in Christ.
    • In particular, we are considering “manna” as a type which will find reality in Him.
    • After Israel passed through the Red Sea, they faced the first of many overwhelming obstacles, including food to sustain a rag-tag multitude of over a million people.
    • This was a moment for “Jehovah Jireh” to act on behalf of His people.
  3. The manna was bread from heaven. (Exodus 16:1-12)
    • Israel’s food shortage became painfully obvious when they came to the wilderness of sin.
    • The name of this barren land is significant.
    • They were pilgrims passing through a harsh and alien land.
    • It would be here in a land called “sin” that God would reveal His provision from heaven.
    • Hungry, empty stomachs made the people whiners and complainers.
    • The objects of their grumbling were Moses and Aaron.
    • Typical of grumblers, they selectively revised their history to intensify their distaste of the present.
    • They claimed it would have been better to die at the hand of the Lord in Egypt, when He passed over them, than to starve in the wilderness.
    • Even though they blamed Moses, it was directed towards the Lord.
    • In essence they were insinuating that the salvation they enjoyed in Egypt was an act of a fickle God.
    • They are attributing to the Lord a sinister plot to let them suffer in the wilderness.
    • But notice in Exodus 16:4, the Lord did not become insecure and try to defend Himself; He didn’t have to answer any human accusations.
    • He didn’t promise to rain down fire and brimstone from heaven, even though they were caught in blasphemy.
    • Instead He promised to rain down His grace upon them in the form of bread from heaven.
    • This is characteristic of Jehovah Jireh, “…where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:20-21)
    • This bread from heaven was God’s provision for His people dwelling in the wilderness of sin.
    • Keep this thought in mind when we later turn to John 6 to see Jesus feed the multitude who had gathered to hear Him.

God used Israel’s forty years in the wilderness to test His people. (Exodus 16:4-5)

  1. This moment was to reveal their lack of faith, as well as to manifest His faithfulness. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 16-20)
    • He wanted to humble them and to expose what was really in their hearts.
    • Trials seem to do this better than anything else in our lives.
    • However, God was doing all this for their good. (Exodus 16:16-17)
    • He was preparing them for future days of prosperity.
    • Wealth has a way of causing amnesia, forgetting God’s great goodness.
    • Read what happened a little later in Numbers 11:1-6.
    • Once again, I want you to remember how Israel rejected God’s provision of manna from heaven when we turn to John 6.
    • 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 explains, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
    • The real problem Israel was facing was their inadequate theology.
    • They attributed evil to God for their tribulation.
    • James 1:13-17 warns, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.’”
  2. The manna also revealed God’s glory to His people. (Exodus 16:6-12)
    • Every created thing was made to glorify Him.
    • “In the morning” they would awake to see God’s glory revealed in the manna sparkling like dew on the ground.
    • They would also look toward the wilderness and see God’s glory appearing in the cloud.
    • God’s glory would be revealed when He satisfied and filled them with bread from heaven.” (Psalm 105:40)

Secondly, God provided the manna daily. (Exodus 16:13-31)

  1. The Manna literally means, “What is this?” (Exodus 16:13-15, 31; Numbers 10:7-9)
    • This was a supernatural phenomena.
    • No natural explanation is adequate.
    • Manna was found each morning after the dew lifted.
    • It was white pearl color and was made up of a very fine substance like sesame seeds.
    • Manna could be boiled and baked for bread loaves.
    • It had a taste like honey and was referred to as Angel’s Bread.
  2. God tested Israel’s faith by giving them enough Manna for only one day at a time…daily bread. (Exodus 16:16-30; 35-36)
    • That is why in the Lord’s Prayer it says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
    • They were to collect enough bread according to their need every day.
    • Someone’s bounty was to be another man’s supply. (2 Corinthians 8:13-15; 9:8)
    • God was teaching Israel the stewardship of His resources.
  3. How many people reading of this event even stop to consider the scope of God’s provision for Israel?
    • Many Bible scholars estimate the multitude in the wilderness to be upwards of two million people.
    • Now think about this—six pints of manna was to be collected for every person!
    • That would be twelve million pints every day.
    • It would take ten trains, each pulling thirty box-cars filled with manna every day to feed this multitude.
    • Now multiply that by forty years and you can see the incredible blessing God showered upon them.
    • Bread from heaven was always more than each person needed and yet they complained and grumbled.
  4. One of the interesting stipulations in the gathering of manna was that they were not to hoard or have leftovers. (Exodus 16:19)
    • Any leftovers would give off a foul stench and turn to worms. I liken this to Christians who try to live off “oldie moldy” religious experiences.
    • They have a crusty attitude about today.
    • They tend to forget the struggles of the past and selectively remember the accomplishments of the past.
    • Learning and serving has ceased for them.
    • They are surviving on bread gathered years ago.
    • God in His providence gave provision for the Sabbath.
    • On the sixth day, He provided a double portion that would not rot overnight.
    • In this way, they could prepare the bread and rest on the Sabbath from their labor.
  5. God designated the manna as memorial bread. (Exodus 16:32-34)
    • He desired that future generations see what manna was like, so that they might see God’s faithfulness to His covenant. (Exodus 16:32)
    • A pot of manna was hidden inside the Ark of the Covenant before the Lord. (Exodus 16:33-34; Hebrews 9:4)
    • The hidden manna was a prophetic promise that God would once again rain His grace upon His people dwelling in sin.

The Manna Was Christ. (John 6)

  1. Now let’s read John 6:1-14, keeping our eyes on fulfillment of types and shadows found in Exodus 16.
    • As Hebrew multitudes followed God in the wilderness, so the multitudes followed Christ.
    • As their forefathers lacked food, so those gathered in Galilee were hungry.
    • As God used Israel’s hunger to test their faith, so Jesus used this opportunity to test Philips’ faith and to reveal the power of God.
    • As God provided more than what was needed in the wilderness, so the Apostle’s collected left-overs so that nothing was lost.
    • On the following day, Jesus met many of the same people on the other side of the sea, asking “When did you come here?”
    • Now we find Jesus explaining the significance of these things.
  2. He first exhorts them to labor for the Bread that endures. (John 6:26-29)
    • He knew that they came not out of faith but out love for free food.
    • The food that he offers endures to everlasting life.
    • He was the Son of Man who came to do the work of His Father.
    • The real work of God was that some would believe in Him.
    • In other words, even their faith was a work of the Father.
  3. Like the manna, He was the true Bread from heaven. (John 6:30-32)
    • Jesus clarified for the crowd that it wasn’t Moses who gave them manna but His Father.
    • Both He and the manna descended from heaven, as a gift from God the Father.
  4. Jesus was saying He is the Bread of God that has come down from heaven to give them life. (John 6:33)
    • Manna was but a prophetic foreshadow of the work given Him by the Father.
  5. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:34-40)
    • Those who come to Him will be fed and satisfied.
    • Those who came to Him that day had seen the Living Manna but did not believe.
    • He makes it clear, however, that those who were previously given to Him by the Father will come.
    • His call is irresistible.
    • He came to do His Father’s will, but what was it?
    • “That I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (John 6:39)
    • In other words, He came to resurrect all those given to Him by the Father.
  6. Next He clarifies, “I Am the living bread.” (John 6:51)
    • Who comes to Him? Only those drawn by the Father.
    • To draw is like a fisherman drawing in his net of fishes or like Paul being dragged out of the temple.
    • Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Christ.
    • Every one who takes the Living Bread will live forever with Him.
    • The bread that He gives is His flesh.
    • In other words, as manna descended from heaven, so He is God descended in human flesh.
  7. “My flesh is food.” (John 6:52-58)
    • Those who feed on Christ will live because of what He did for them.
    • Their fathers ate the manna and died.
    • But those who eat His flesh will live forever because they abide in Him and He abides in them.
  8. Now what did Jesus mean when He promised those who overcame that they would eat of “Hidden Manna”? (Revelation 2:17)
    • Jesus is offering Himself.
    • That He would provide for them now and forever.
    • Some day they would see Him face-to-face and the manna would not be hidden.
    • Is Christ sufficient for today?
    • He is “Jehovah-Jireh,” the God Who provided Christ—everything we will ever need.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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