Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Mystery Of The Miracle Bread

OK - First realize this is not some secret bread recipe, although I have a really good wheat bread recipe I can share with you sometime. Instead, this mysterious "miracle bread" that I'm referring to was an actual, real-life food that God referred to as "the bread from heaven". The Israelites called it "manna", which literally is translated "what is this?"

Manna was miraculously provided by God for the people of Israel to eat. It appeared on the ground after the dew was gone. Manna could be gathered up, ground in a hand mill, or crushed in a mortar.  It could be cooked in a pot, made into loaves, and could be baked or boiled. It appeared as small flakes the size of coriander seed, and had the texture of resin or something like semi-dry pine sap. It tasted really good, like something made with olive oil, like wafers made with honey. It was incredibly and perfectly nutritious, and could, by itself, sustain human life indefinitely. Miracle bread! (see Exodus 16 and Numbers 11).

Each day, everyone was allowed to gather as much as they needed before the manna would melt away and disappear. However, if anyone tried to hoard it, or keep it overnight, it would stink and be full of maggots by morning. They had to trust that God would provide for them one day at a time, day in and day out. There was one exception. On the sixth day, they could gather a double portion because on the Sabbath, God told them that no manna would appear. It was the one day they could gather a double portion and keep it overnight without it spoiling.

The story of manna starts at the time Moses, when he led the nation of Israel out of Egyptian slavery. After the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, they ended up in a vast, desolate desert of rock, sand and dust, with no water and no food. That's where they lived for 40 years before they entered the promised land! I was checking out Google Earth on this whole area, and it's amazing that anyone or anything can survive there! If you get a chance, look at the views of that area. Today, it's the Sinai peninsula that's between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

How can tens of thousands of people live in a desert for 40 years, where nothing grows and there is absolutely no source of food? Simple...they can't! They might last a few days, but that's it. Impossible by man's reasoning. However, God can do the impossible! That's what I like about God. He fed His people when they couldn't feed themselves. He never abandoned them, but cared for them and provided for them. Even their clothes didn't wear out for 40 years!  ("Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years." - Deuteronomy 8:4).

So, why is this miracle bread, manna, a mystery? And what is the answer to the mystery of the miracle bread? It's a mystery because this miraculous provision of manna was only a model for something much, much greater to come! The answer to the mystery is this: It was a model for Jesus! Jesus is the real bread of life that came down from heaven.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  “Sir, they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:32-35)

Below are 10 parallels between manna and Jesus that help solve the mystery:
1. Both came down from heaven miraculously
2. Both offer a salvation from certain doom
3. Both offered free
4. Both given to those in a type of desert 
5. Both all-sufficient for sustaining life
6. Both white and pure 
7. Both were humble (manna small in size)
8. Both require bowing down to get it
9. Both faithfully and consistently present 
10. Both require faith and trust

You see, manna was just a shadow of greater things to come. It was a model for what Jesus brings to us today. Manna was the 'bread from heaven", but Jesus is the true "bread from heaven". Manna gave physical life but Jesus gives spiritual life.

So, how does solving the mystery of the miracle bread help you? Think of matter where you are in life's journey, even if you are in what seems like a 'desert', God, through Jesus, will sustain you through what ever it is, for He is a God who is faithful, day in and day out. He still cares and will never abandon you. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Believe and trust in Him and you will find life - real life, spiritual life, and eternal life!

"Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:47-51a)

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