As a recap from part 1, we are looking at what Mosaic covenant symbols might mean in light of a new covenant. Particularly, I wrote that the ark of the covenant is a metaphor for your heart. The intended destiny for your heart is to be in the presence of God, 24×7. Inside the ark were a pot of manna, a rod, and two tablets (Hebrews 9:4). In this section we’ll look at the symbol of manna and how this maps to faith.
31 The house of Israel named the substance manna. It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers made with honey.
32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: Two quarts of it are to be preserved throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.
The Hebrew word for manna is pronounced ‘men’ meaning “what is it?” Manna has the Hebrew root expression ‘mah’ which means “what.” Bread and wine are rich symbols that followers of Yeshua take in to their hearts during communion. The wine represents our acceptance of Yeshua’s blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. That part is pretty straight forward. I would suggest that many of Yeshua’s followers don’t really know what to make of the bread. Like the house of Israel, we ask “what is it?” If you are like me you may have wrestled with the account in chapter 6 of John’s gospel many times. In the context of communion, my working definition of taking in the bread is that of an exchanged life. An acceptance and trust of His life for ours. But what does manna symbolize in it’s original context?
A Hebraic way of thinking is looking at what something does or its function. A Greek way of thinking is looking at its form or appearance. For dreams and this exercise, what is the function of manna in the original text of Exodus 16? We will also look at how Jesus redefines the symbol towards Himself in John 6, where He proclaims “I AM the bread of life.”
The function of manna was to demonstrate God’s supernatural ability to provide Israel with life from heaven. In particular, in context, the people of Israel were going through a wilderness season, i.e. a time of drought and testing. Like the ark, the pot was a container. They generally needed to have enough to make it one day at a time. The Israelites had to learn to rely on this supernatural provision for forty years.
So the manna provided for Israel in the wilderness. So what? What does manna mean to me in light of the new covenant?
I believe manna represents God’s ability to sustain me when I go through times of wilderness in my life. The manna hidden in my heart represents the faith that I carry regarding the faithfulness of God.
These wilderness seasons are not exclusive to me. I believe that everyone will go through a wilderness season at some time in their lives, whether we like it or not, or even believe it or not. Jesus is described as the first born of many siblings (Hebrews 2:11).
Jesus, as our prototype, also went through this same season of wilderness and testing (Matthew 4). Regarding the manna, Jesus quoted this passage from Deuteronomy when He was being tested in the wilderness.
3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
An interesting thing to note is that the word “word” is not in the Hebrew. I believe the last phrase would be more accurately translated “man lives by everything that comes from the mouth of God (Yahweh).
If you search the scriptures for life-giving references to the phrase “mouth of God”, you will find the following expressions: creation (something from nothing), instructions, the mouth of a prophet, and His promises. That which comes from the mouth of God generally needs to be received in faith to bring life to your heart.
He speaks his word through many forms and ways. Scripture is one of the obvious ways. One thing that the world wants the church community to admit is that God is bigger than the Bible. How big is your God? The Bible can give us instruction but does not automatically provide an experience with God. That comes through relationship. God can prophesy through man, nature, a sign, a donkey, a vision or a dream. For example, the prophetic word for Joseph’s life came to him in the form of a dream (Psalm 105:19).
If the function of the manna in Exodus was to give life from heaven, the expression of life is magnified in Christ in John chapter 6.
31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!”
35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.
47 I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.
48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
Whereas life from manna was temporary, the true bread of heaven gives us the assurance of eternal life for everyone who believes.
The most important word that you can carry in your heart is Christ. It is Christ, the Word in you, that is the hope of glory.
He is faithful and able to perform His word spoken to your heart, including His ability to give you eternal life.
Few of us would choose or deliberately initiate a difficult wilderness season, yet it is there that God demonstrates His ability to sustain us and show Himself faithful. I believe that his word coming to pass during a wilderness season teaches our hearts a living faith that a land of ease can not.
Like the Israelites, a wilderness season is met one day at a time. We need encouragement (having our faith-tanks full) to take each day as it comes.
What are the dreams and promises that God has spoken to your heart? What are the scriptures you need to encourage your heart?
Jesus is praying for your heart.
To be continued…