Monday, February 11, 2013

Christ: The Hidden Manna and Living Water

Good morning!  Today is the first day of week six, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures this week are:

  •  Exodus 16-18; Eph 4
  •  Exodus 19-21; Eph 5; Psalm 33
  •  Exodus 22-24; Eph 6; Psalm 109
  •  Exodus 25-27; Philippians 1; Psalm 90
  •  Exodus 28-31; Phil 2

The Israelites Collect Manna
Our Old Testament passage today is a fascinating one, because while it narrates the story of God giving the Israelites manna to eat, it reveals much more than that, when you read beneath the surface.  In John 6, Jesus reveals that there is a hidden meaning to this manna sent from heaven:

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

So the manna that came from heaven may be a foreshadowing of the Messiah who would come.  Or, if you want to be very literal, then you might say that the manna was Christ Himself, giving life to the people.  Just as God desired that none should be lost in the desert, but provided supernatural bread for the people to eat, so God provides for us the Bread of Life who saves our souls.  Click here for a wonderful, and more detailed, article on this, by the late Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

This certainly gives new meaning to Revelation 2:17, which says:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Not only is Jesus the Bread of Life, but In John 7, Jesus also reveals that He is the water that God provides for our souls:
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

In John 4, Jesus has a conversation with a Samaritan woman at the well, in which this is clarified even further:

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

1 Corinthians 10 goes a step beyond even that, stating that not only did the rock symbolize Jesus, but that the rock was a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Himself:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 

And, just in case there was still any doubt, the Lord shows this in the crucifixion, where in John 19:34, it says:

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

Water from the Rock, Struck by Moses
During this first week of Lent, many people consider what they will give up, in submission to God.  They contemplate what kind of fast they can undertake, to please the Lord.  One person I knew fasted on a diet of bread and water the whole season of Lent.  While I'm not sure that this is necessary, I could go for a diet of Jesus' spiritual bread and living water any day! 

If you're going through a season of spiritual (or even physical) famine in your life, remember that God provides for us when we're in the wilderness.  Trust God to nourish you, even during difficult times.  And remember the words of Jesus, who said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (Matthew 5:6)."

*All scripture references are taken from the English Standard Version.

No comments: