Exodus 16 (NRSV)
Bread from Heaven
“Bread of Heaven” — also known as “Guide Me, O, Thou Great Jehovah” — is not only a hymn for the church, but also the Welsh rugby hymn (!), often sung by the crowd at rugby matches, especially those of the Wales national rugby union team.
The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.
Well, this is surprising! Bread does not usually rain down from the sky! But this reminds us that God may provide from resources that we never knew existed. Sometimes He provides from familiar resources, and other times from wonderfully unexpected resources.
In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”
6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”
We think our complaints are reasonable, certainly harmless. Is that truly so?
Acts 5:3-4 (New Living Translation)
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
9Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’“
10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.
11The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12“I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“
13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Psalm 105:40 (New International Version)
They asked, and he brought them quail,
and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’“
17The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. 18But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.
19And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”
20But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them.
21Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed;
Work hard to maintain a sense of your entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of your richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus or you are undone forever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to your spirit; your head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory.
Today you may be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put you there must keep you there or you will sink far more speedily than you imagine. Your mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hides His face, you will soon be troubled. If the Savior should see fit, there is not a window through which you see the light of heaven that He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of your heart, the light of your eyes, and the strength of your life; in His hand your comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from you.
Our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize this hourly dependence, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that our strength will be equal to our days. Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne and constantly be reminded of His love?
Oh, how rich the grace that supplies us so continually and does not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases; the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our dwelling. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Your feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without You, and in every favor that we are privileged to receive, we would adore Your blessed name and acknowledge Your unexhausted love.
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon / Alistair Begg
but when the sun grew hot, it melted. 22On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers apiece. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.’“
24So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”
The implication is that the weekly Sabbath was normally kept by Israel before Sinai. The Sabbath ordinance in the Ten Commandments was a codification of Sabbath observance, not its inauguration. (The Reformation Bible)
27On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? 29See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day.
31The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
Psalm 78:23-25 (New International Version)
Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.
Men ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.
John 6:47-51 (The Message)
“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
32Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, in order that they may see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’“
33And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations.”
34As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the covenant, for safekeeping. 35The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36An omer is a tenth of an ephah.
How do you eat the “true bread from heaven”? Here are some ways to consider:
- believe in Jesus, who said “I am the bread of life,” and obey Him
- take Holy Communion / the Lord’s Supper
- read and meditate on the Word of God
- praise God in friendship and conversation with other believers
- pray for the hunger of the world to be satisfied in God’s will and purposes
Reader Steve added these:
- read and meditate on the Word of God in Scripture
- meditate on the preaching of the Word in worship
Do you have other suggestions? Share them with us — click on “Leave a Comment” below!
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.