Manna - "What is it?"
Manna literally means “What is it?”
The story of Manna begins in Exodus 16 and is last mentioned in Revelation 2. It has been, and always will be, a mystery for the ages. Not because it hasn’t been explained to us but because it will always be “What is it?” to our flesh. In order to understand its purpose, we must have the mind of Christ given by the Spirit. This is only the beginning.
When the Israelites left Egypt under the leadership of Moses, they were in the throngs of living with the Living God. This meant, unbeknownst to the Israelites, a completely different lifestyle. Their diet was one of the very first things to change. In Deuteronomy 8, we see the extent of their beginnings:
“Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
Hunger followed by a bread like substance that was unrecognizable to everyone present. This was completely different than the plenty they always ate as slaves in Egypt. It was a miracle that fell with the dew and came with specific instructions from God on how to gather it. Everything that the Lord was doing was preparing the Israelites for a life in the Promise Land. It was to test them and actually pointed them to the Lord’s providence. Much like then, we as Christians feast on the Manna.
In John 6, Jesus describes Himself as the “Bread from Heaven.” He will go on to make a crazy claim that in order to inherit eternal life, everyone must “eat of His flesh and drink of His blood.” This was a very scandalous claim to be sure, for anyone in any context and time. It is still the message today. We must do this in order to inherit eternal life. But I think the claim means something very different than what it sounds like. No one wants to take a bite out of Jesus literally, but we are called to a life of ingesting “What is it?”.
Living with a flesh and a spirit competing for the captain’s chair of our lives, Christians are constantly having to discern life. The flesh wants nothing to do with the Manna. In fact, it actually draws out the cravings of the flesh. This is intentional. Like the Israelites, we can very easily find ourselves craving the food of our old lives before Christ. The Lord uses the Manna to show us that we do not live on bread alone but by every Word of the Living God. This makes a life lived for Jesus very difficult at times.
It is important to remember that the Manna is Holy. It is not the direct cause of our discomfort and cravings, only the thing that draws out the cravings. It is for the death of the fleshly cravings and allows our spirit to live in communion with God. It is mildly bland. Meaning it isn’t that appetizing. The Lord is the One that causes its existence. Since it can only be gathered one day at time, there is no way to plan future meals. It is a complete trust in God.
BUT… it sustains and strengthens the spirit to the MAX! It is the superfood of all superfoods because it will literally cause the one that eats it to live forever.
This is GOOD NEWS!! It is the Gospel message. Luckily for us in our discomfort, we remember that Jesus is the Manna and the Promise Land. We (our flesh) die daily as the Apostle Paul says, by embracing the Manna for our lives.
Take the time to analyze your life.
What miracle has God placed in your life that cause cravings for something else? Is it your job? Your family? Your finances? Your church?
What are the things that bring out your fleshly cravings and simultaneously happen to be caused by the Miracles that the Lord has given you?
Jesus is always that for us, but there can also be other things. Keep an ‘eye’ on your fleshly cravings and let Jesus be Jesus in your life.
Jesus will at some level always be “What is it?” to our flesh. We are constantly going to be bewildered by the ways that the Spirit of God moves in our lives. The goal then is to have faith in the Manna for our lives and trust without having all the pieces.
Trust that Jesus is the sustainer of your life, and despite discomfort and confusion at times, He will lead you to the Promise Land.