The Bread That Comes From Heaven

June 28, 2009 / No. 3469

Dear Radio Friends,

If there is one thing that is emphasized in God’s Word, it is this: Our heavenly Father knows what we have need of, and has promised to provide each day our needs: physically, emotionally, spiritually.

You may page through your Bible yourself, and you will be struck by the frequency with which God speaks of this truth. Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” That is, out of His infinite storehouse of mercy and grace in Christ, He promises to supply our need. The Bible repeatedly uses the example of the creation, especially the birds. “Behold the fowls of the air,” said Jesus. “They sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Your Father knows what ye have need of. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” And again, the prophets. Isaiah 41:17, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.”

If you ask this question: “But how do I know that in my situation, with my layoff, with the job market the way it is, with disabilities; how do I know that God will provide for me, for my family, that I will be able to meet my obligations?” Then I trust, by God’s grace, you believe with all your heart the sovereignty of God taught in the Scriptures. The sovereign God has promised to provide the needs of each one of His children.

And if you say, “But how do I know, what security is behind that promise?” then you must look to the cross. Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” There the apostle is reasoning from the greater to the lesser. If God, by mere grace, has given His Son for His children, the elect; if He has not spared His own Son, but delivered Him up for all of them, how shall God then not also with Christ freely give us all things? That is, the things we have need of. If He saved our souls, will He not care for us so long as we are on this earth?

We read in the Old Testament that God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years with manna, a bread that He rained down from heaven, a bread that sustained them, a bread that God gave graciously, faithfully, and daily. Manna stopped when Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered into the land of Canaan, where they could eat of the land that God had prepared for them. God had established another way that He would provide their needs.

We read in Joshua 5:12, “And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land.” While Israel was in the wilderness for forty years, God sent them manna. The word “manna” means, “What is it?” To understand why they called it manna, you have to imagine the very first time when the Israelites awoke early in morning and they were greeted with a substance on the ground, a white substance that they could gather and they could bake and they could make into bread. When they saw it on the ground, they said, “What is it?”

We should think of that, and we should ask in wonder, unassuming wonder and surprise, throughout our life, when God gives us our earthly needs: What is it? We should see, behind what God gives to us, the thoughtfulness, the grace, and the love.

Let us look for a few moments today, then, on this wonderful truth of God, this truth that God has promised to provide our daily spiritual needs and our physical needs, by looking at the bread that comes from heaven.

You may read of manna and its gift to Israel in the Bible in Exodus, chapter 16. God’s children had passed through the Red Sea and were on their way to Canaan. By a mighty hand God had redeemed them from the bondage of Egypt. They were three days out on their journey and they came to a place where the water was very bitter. And in unbelief they murmured against Moses and said, “What shall we drink?” But God, in His mercy, provided sweetness out of the bitter water and, in spite of their murmuring, God gives them what they needed.

Then we read that God brought them to Elam, a place of seventy palm trees and twelve wells of water, for a time of rest. After that He led them into the wilderness of Sin, a wilderness that was between Elam and Mt. Sinai. The wilderness of Sin was named that not because of what Israel would do there—they were to sin—but the word refers to clay, or chalk, or white powder. It is a word that has reference to the dry, clay ground, the scattered rocks that were common to that area, and the low cliffs that surrounded the area. It was a wilderness. It was barren, wretched, lonely, with dry streambeds all the way to Canaan.

And as they journeyed, their provisions ran out. They had taken from Egypt as much provisions as they could carry. We read in Exodus 12:36 that the Egyptians had pushed upon them very much goods, saying, “Here take this and leave. Take this.” So they had carried in their backpacks, on their carts, all that they could. But now the cupboard was bare.

About six weeks into the journey, they are left with only crumbs. And they murmured against Moses and Aaron. It was a grievous sin. Moses responds, “Who are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.” It was a very difficult moment in the history of Israel.

Notice two things about their sin, their sin of murmuring against Moses and against God. Notice, first of all, that their sin burst out quickly and easily—and how careful we must be. They had just had bitter water changed to sweet. They had just seen the Red Sea parted. They had just seen Pharaoh and Egypt destroyed. They had just seen ten plagues devastate Egypt. And, that very day, they saw the pillar of cloud leading them by day and the pillar of fire by night. And yet, how quickly they murmur. We must be aware of our own evil nature. We must be aware of how a little bit of hardship immediately, for us, blots out the memory of all of God’s past goodness.

But notice, secondly, concerning this sin, how deceiving it was, how foolish sin makes us. The children of Israel began to say to Moses, “It were better off if we were dead. God has brought us here to die, to kill us.” That is very strong language and very foolish! And it was not true. But, you see, sin makes us suspicious of God. When things do not go our way, when tomorrow’s provisions are uncertain, how do we respond? Do we become suspicious of God? Do we accuse Him?

God put an end to Israel’s murmuring. Graciously and abundantly, He supplied their needs. First of all, we read in Exodus 16 that He sent quails, a small dove—enough for one meal. Now the interpretation of unbelief would say that this was a natural occurrence; that there was a migration of these birds and that the wind (or whatever) forced them down near the ground so that the Israelites could club them. There unbelief goes again! Whenever there is a miracle, they try to explain it away. God sent, by His hand, meat—quail—enough to feed more than two million people in the wilderness. And then, in the morning, God sent manna.

We read that when the dew was gone, a small round thing was found upon the ground, the size of a coriander seed. It was white, and it was tasty. The Bible says that it had a sweet, honey taste, something like a honey-wafer. It was delicious. They could gather it together. And they could grind it and make it into flour. Or they could fry it, or boil it. They were to gather an omer for each person. Each family was to go out and take what they needed. So some families would take more and some less.

Now, let us see the main point here, and the application to ourselves. It was a miracle. God’s provision of our daily needs is a miracle of His power, love, and faithfulness. Again, the forces of unbelief interpret the Scriptures and say, “Well, we can explain this. Manna was actually from a bush in the wilderness that weeps a little sweet drop. When the sun arises it is no longer any good.” But God says that the manna came from heaven, not from a bush. God says that the Israelites did not know what it was. They had been in the wilderness, and they knew about bushes. God says that it came on six days and not on the seventh day. God says it came every day for forty years. God says that He gave enough to feed two million people. Natural explanations are nonsense.

It was a miracle of God’s power. You may put a calculator to it. One omer, or one pint, per person per day; two million people—God provided train loads and tons upon tons of food. But, you see, God’s provisions are miracles. A piece of bread, the growing of the wheat—can you do that? Milk and eggs, cereal, a roast in the oven, beans and potatoes—this is a miracle.

Note, secondly, that God gave enough for one day. We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread. Give us what is sufficient for this day.” That manna was enough. It had nutrients. It had vitamins. It had what they needed.

And, finally, it was delicious. It was not just a bowl of gruel. It was not just a pot of mush. It smelled good; it tasted good. It satisfied. We read in Psalm 78:25 that God calls it “angel’s food”—not that angels ate it, but that it was fit for an angel. Angels probably delivered it. It was fit for a king.

Now this manna that God gave Israel was a type, a picture, of our Lord Jesus Christ who was sufficient for the needs of a sinner—totally sufficient. He called Himself “the Bread of life.” Jesus Christ is the true Bread. Jesus Christ is the provision of His grace given to needy sinners. In John 6:27, Jesus warned the Jews who were coming to Him after they had seen the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand with the few loaves and the fish. He warned them that they must not labor for the meat that perishes but for that meat that endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of God shall give you. He says that you must not live your life for the perishing things of this world—for fashion, possessions, investments. You must not live simply to have a belly filled with good things. But you must labor for the true heavenly bread, the true manna. And they asked Him, “What was that true manna? God gave our fathers bread in the wilderness. Is that what you are talking about?” And Jesus said, “No, I am the Bread of life.”

If you do not have Jesus, you starve. You starve spiritually. You eat only the things of this world, the present, perishing things of this life. You eat sawdust. Our need is Jesus Christ. He is the miracle-bread come down from God. He is God’s Son. God gave and provided Him. He is the Savior who gave His life upon the cross, the atonement for the sins of God’s children. He is enough. He is all-sufficient, all you need in your guilt and shame. All you need to be satisfied is in Jesus Christ—the hope for the future, the overcoming of the fears of tomorrow, strength for today, consolation in grief. You do not need supplements. Jesus Christ is the Bread of life. And He is delicious. He is sweeter than honey. All the grace of God is stored up in Jesus Christ.

God gave Israel manna in the wilderness in the way of trial. God told Moses that He would give them this manna a day at a time, and that they were to gather only what they needed on that day. Then, on the day before the Sabbath, they were to gather enough for two days because God would not give it to them on the Sabbath Day. And they got it all wrong. Some gathered up more than what they needed and it rotted on them. And then some failed to gather enough for the Sabbath Day and they went hungry. They did not listen to God.

God sent a trial of their faith to teach them that they must learn to live and depend upon the Word of God. God made it hard. God had taken away all human possibilities and then supplied them with bread from heaven. And then, in His Word, He said, “This is the way I will supply your needs. You must trust and believe me.”

That is also our calling. Our calling is to trust. Our calling is to believe this promise of God that He will supply our daily needs, that He will ever supply our spiritual needs. God sometimes brings us into times of extremity. He brings us to the edge of our endurance. He brings us, we say, to the end of our rope. And He does that so that we may look up unto Him, and trust Him, and learn to believe His Word and to understand what Moses says in Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD.” We must learn this in our physical, emotional, and spiritual life. God has promised that He will supply our need in the way of our trusting and believing in Him.

God commanded Moses to take a pot of the manna and fill it up and put it into the Ark of the Covenant of God as a memorial of His grace. Now, why did God do this? The answer is: Grace. God gave them manna out of His grace. He did not deal with His children as they deserved. They had gotten it wrong, time after time. They murmured when the water was bitter. They cried out in despair when they came to the Red Sea. And, when they ran out of food, their murmuring only got worse. If ever there was a time that we would expect that God would thunder over them and send His lightning and fire from heaven to silence them, it was then. But God does not deal with us, as He did not deal with Israel, because of who we are, but because of what we are by His grace in Christ.

We, too, are murmurers and complainers. We lose sight of God so soon. We interpret God’s ways all wrong. We say, in this economic difficulty, that God is working to kill us. Does He not know how hard it is? Or of all of our obligations? Surely God is doing this simply to slam me down—one thing after another.

But God was not slamming His people down. God was leading them. And He was leading them to show them the true source of all things: Himself. To show them that God is all-sufficient. To have God is enough. Who was wrong that day when Israel was hungry in the wilderness and Israel said, “He’s brought us out to kill us!” Who was wrong? Israel or God? You judge.

And who is wrong when we doubt, when we conclude that it is impossible, that there is no solution, when we complain? We are wrong. God hath given us a memorial of His grace. That memorial of His grace is not a bowl of manna in a box called the Ark. But that memorial of God’s grace is the Cross. Look unto that cross, child of God, and see the Word of God. It says, “If God be for us, who can be against us. He that spared not His own Son, shall He not also freely give of His Name?”

Remember the Word of God. From the cross God speaks and says, “I will supply your daily needs. I will give what you need for your earthly life.” And still more, remember the word of Christ: He is that Bread of life. To have Him is to be satisfied. Apart from Him is death and famine and hunger.

We abound in Jesus Christ. We have all things in Jesus Christ. We are full, we are satisfied in Jesus Christ. For He is the Bread of heaven. And concerning that bread, Jesus Christ, is the true Bread from heaven. By grace we pray, “Lord, evermore give us that Bread.”

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee for Thy holy Word. We pray for its blessing upon our souls in this day, that we may believe Thy Word, that we may know that Thou wilt provide for us all our needs in Jesus Christ. Give us to seek Christ as the true Bread, the only satisfaction in this life. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.