By Henry Mahan
Exodus 16:11-18, 31; John 6:28-35, 48-51
Would we be faithful ministers of the gospel of Christ? Would we be faithful teachers and preachers in our generation? Would we be faithful students and rightly divide the word of truth? Then we will search the Old Testament Scriptures and preach Christ from the types, patterns, and prophecies as did our Lord and the disciples (Luke 24:26-27, 44-47; 1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Cor. 5:7).
In John 6 our Lord refers to the manna which fell in the wilderness and calls himself 'the true bread from heaven.' In Rev. 2:17 John writes, 'to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.' How is the manna, which God gave to Israel, a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, 'the true bread'?
Manna was a strange and mysterious thing to the Israelites They had never seen anything like it before and said to one another, 'What is this?' (Exo. 16:15).
Nothing is more mysterious and wonderful than the incarnation of God in human flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). He who made the world was in the world (John 1:10). He who made woman was made of a woman (Gal. 4:4-5). The living God became a man and dwelt among us, numbered with transgressors, subject to every trial and temptation of the flesh, yet without sin (John 1:14; Heb. 4:14-16). Without the aid of men (no plowing, no planting, no reaping) the bread lay upon the ground. Even so, without the aid of men the Son of God was conceived and born into the world (Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:30-35).
Manna was prepared in heaven and came down to earth The people of Israel must have food. It was impossible for them to provide for themselves in the wilderness, so their bread was prepared in heaven and sent down to earth (Num. 11:9).
Christ Jesus had a body prepared of the Father that he might be food for believers (Heb. 10:5). In the wilderness of flesh and sin there is no food. 'In the flesh dwelleth no good thing.' 'That which is impossible with men is possible with God.'
All the nourishment Israel needed was found in the manna from heaven, and all that a believer needs is in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:9-10).
Manna was a gift
It cost them nothing. All they needed to do was to gather it and eat it. Christ Jesus is the unspeakable gift of God's love (2 Cor. 9:15; Rom. 6:23). Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman, 'If you knew the gift of God, you would ask and I would give.' The bread of life, Christ Jesus, is free. That for which men labor never satisfies and in the end will cost them dearly (Isa. 55:1-3).
Manna was provided for all who were hungry The poor and the rich, the young and the old, male and female, leaders and followers, all had one thing in common. They were hungry, and the manna met everyone's need (Exo. 16:16-18).
All men, of whatever distinction, have one thing common--all have sinned and all need the Saviour. He is the only Saviour and the only bread (Matt. 11:28; John 6:53-54).
The Israelites gathered the manna daily, and the man who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack. We feed on Christ daily, 'to whom coming.' There is not a day without a fresh feeding upon him, and whether we have strong faith (much), we have none over, or weak faith (less), we have no lack of nourishment and life. He is sufficient!
Manna was pleasant to the taste
How sweet and satisfying is the Lord Jesus to those who taste (Exo. 16:31)! His word is sweeter than the honeycomb (Psalm 34:8). He becomes all things to those who believe, meeting their every need.
In many ways the manna in the wilderness does not picture Christ.
Manna was food for the outward man only. Christ is the bread of life for the inward man.
The manna was eaten by those who later died. We eat of Christ and never die.
The manna rotted and decayed when kept. Christ ever lives! He abides the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The manna was only found in the morning. Christ is our food morning, noon, and night.
The manna ceased when they entered Canaan.
Christ, our bread, is our bread forever. In glory he will be the subject of our song, the joy of our heart, and the object of our worship.
Go worship at Emmanuel's feet
See in his face all wonders meet!
The whole creation can afford
But some faint shadow of my Lord.
Is he compared to wine and bread?
Dear Lord, our souls would thus be fed!
Is he a tree? Then we receive
Salvation from his healing leaves!
Is he a rose? Not Sharon yields
Such fragrancy in all her fields!
Is he the vine? his heavenly root
Supplies the branch with life and fruit!
Is he the fountain? There I bathe
And heal the plague of sin and death.
Is he a fire? He will purge my dross
So the true gold sustains no loss!
Is he the rock? How firm he proves
The Rock of Ages never moves.
Is he the way? That leads to God,
There would I walk in lines of blood!
Is he the door? I'll enter in
To feed on pastures large and green!
Is he the temple? I'll adore
The indwelling majesty and power!
Is he the sun? His beams are grace,
His course is joy and righteousness!
His beauties we can never trace
'Till we behold him face to face!