Many of the shadows we see of Jesus in the Old Testament are discovered as people have studied the scriptures and have reflected how different occasions and people point towards the one who was to come. Other shadows are specifically mentioned in the New Testament as pointing towards Christ. The Manna given to the Israelites in the wilderness that we will be looking at today is mentioned by Jesus himself.
Jesus has just fed the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes and then walked on water across the sea to Capernaum. The next day a crowd gathers and amazingly but not surprisingly the religious establishment ask him for a sign. Just before he declares himself to be ‘The bread of life’ Jesus answers their questions;
So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 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. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6:30-34)
The manna given to the Israelites was to point towards the ‘true bread’ who was to come. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the original story it is in Exodus chapter 16. As we saw last week the Israelites were given fresh water to drink from the bitter pool. After this they were led to proper streams of fresh water at a place called Elim. Straight after this they go further into the wilderness and they are complaining again about a lack of food. God causes a type of bread to just fall from the sky, a substance called ‘manna’ which literally translated meant ‘what is it?’. God faithfully fed his people with this miraculous substance for 40 years.
Let’s consider some similarities between this manna and Jesus;
- The manna first appeared at the wilderness called ‘sin’ (Exodus 16:1). How apt that Jesus also came down to a world that was full of sin in order to save everyone who partakes of him, from spiritual starvation.
- It arrived at night time and Jesus came as a light in the darkness (John 3:19-21)
- Manna came down from heaven and Jesus is called “The man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:48)
- It was white in colour, pointing to Christ’s purity (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15)
- It had to be gathered individually (Exodus 16:16). We come to Christ as individuals, believing in Him as a personal and individual choice. (Romans 6:11, Galatians 2:20)
- It met a daily need (Exodus 16:4). We come to Christ daily for our spiritual sustenance (1 Corinthians 15:31)
- Manna was not just picked up and eaten but was prepared by beating and grinding and prepared into cakes (Numbers 11:8). Jesus was beaten, crushed and broken for us (Isaiah 53:4-5)
- Manna was gathered in double amounts on the day before the Sabbath (Exodus 16:23-24). Christ’s body, after he was crucified, lay in the tomb and did not suffer corruption (Psalm 16:10)
- A portion of manna was set aside as a remembrance (Exodus 16:33) and later on was placed in the ark of the covenant which was a picture of Christ being exalted at the right hand of the father and established there for all eternity (Ephesians 1:20-23).
For further reflection, click on the following link to read a blog I wrote some while ago about Jesus being the bread of life http://adrianpursglove.com/the-bread-of-life/