Before we start anything new, God will often bring us through a season of preparation. During those seasons, we move out of the familiar and comfortable and into the unknown. It’s not always fun, but you must remember that every season is pregnant with purpose. Don’t abandon the baby before it’s born—commit to preparation. God has lessons hidden for you inside of every single day.
The Israelites went through a long season of preparation in between their exodus from Egyptian slavery and their entry into the Promised Land. God provided several lessons during the Israelites’ time in the wilderness. One vessel God used to teach some of these lessons was manna.
This blog post will cover:
- What was manna in the Bible?
- How long did God provide manna?
- 3 lessons from manna in the Bible
What was manna in the Bible?
Manna was the means by which God provided food for the Israelites during their journey from being slaves in Egypt to a life as God’s people in the Promised Land of Canaan. It was a type of bread that Exodus 16:31 says “was like a coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”
When manna fell from the sky for the first time, the Israelites had no idea what it was. So, they named it manna, which translates to “what is it?”
How long did God provide manna?
God provided manna the entire time that the Israelites were in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:35) Evidentially, God wanted the Israelites to learn certain lessons before they could enter the promised land. Manna was one of the vessels God used to teach the Israelites how to prosper in the land once they arrived.
It is just as important that we learn the following lessons today. They are foundational to a life built on the plans and purposes of God. (All of these points are taken from Exodus 16. I encourage you to go read the chapter in its entirety if you are able!)
3 Lessons from Manna in the Bible
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain down bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” (Exodus 16:4)
God’s original intention for manna was to test the Israelites’ obedience. They had just spent 400 years under Egyptian authority, and now God was introducing them to a different way of doing things.
The instructions were simple: Collect an omer of manna per person (2-3 liters, or the volume of 43.2 chicken’s eggs). Don’t keep any leftovers, or the manna will breed worms and stink. The Sabbath is the only exception. Gather double on the sixth day, and it will last overnight, since there is no work on the seventh day.
Shortly after manna made its way onto the scene, God provided the Israelites with the Law through the Ten Commandments. The wilderness was a training ground for the Israelites to learn how to submit to a better authority—one that would give them prosperity, peace, and an inheritance. (Psalm 37:11)
Manna reveals a powerful truth about the character of God—He teaches His people how to be obedient by His kindness. The lesson didn’t come by way of punishment; it came by way of free bread.
What does this mean for you?
Before God brings you into a season of new purpose and provision, you will probably be tested. That’s because the next chapter of your life will require a new level of obedience and connection to God. You are leveling up! So, soak in the Word of God and commit yourself wholeheartedly to its teachings.
2. How to Cultivate a Rhythm of Work and Rest
“This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept until morning.’” So they laid it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it.
The pattern of working six days and resting one day is a rhythm that God instated at the beginning of creation. In fact, He modeled it first. Genesis 2:3 says, “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.”
The word rested in Genesis 2 is shabat in Hebrew. It’s where the word Sabbath comes from, and it translates to “stop” or “be complete” or “to celebrate.” I love the last definition because it gives the Sabbath the essence of a weekly holiday. God made the Sabbath holy, which means he set it apart from other days.
God used manna to reintroduce the gift of Sabbath. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, there was no rest. The work was forced, and it was constant. By offering Sabbath rest, God demonstrated yet again how submitting under His authority was better than following worldly powers. Practicing the Sabbath was also a weekly reminder of their dependency on God. When they made it into the Promised Land and had more responsibility, Sabbath would remind them that they serve a God who provides.
What does this mean for you?
Your Promised Land will come with new challenges and responsibilities. It is important to cultivate rhythms of resting with God. Your soul needs to be refreshed for the journey ahead, and your spirit needs to be reminded who its Provider is.
Ultimately, God provided manna in the Bible to teach the Israelites the same lesson that Jesus embodied in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” With a single word, God provided for the Israelites. When God commanded the manna to last an extra day until the Sabbath, it did. When He told the manna to spoil on the same day, it did.
Manna was an effort to teach the Israelites how to trust God. They were about to enter a season where they would have more autonomy. They would grow their own food and have the choice of which gods to follow (If you read the rest of the Old Testament, many of them devastatingly choose wrongly.) The wilderness was a place where the Israelites could choose to trust in God’s faithfulness.
What does this mean for you?
Consider God’s constant faithfulness in your life and choose to rely on His strength. As you build in your Promised Land, you will need it. The same God who provided manna in the wilderness has given you everything your journey requires, too.
Manna Is Just The Beginning…
As you can see, the manna was a teaching tool. However, the plan was not for the Israelites to subsist on manna forever. Once the lessons were learned, they would move into and cultivate their own land.
Similarly, we should thank God when He supernaturally provides for us. It is a gift and miraculous indication that God is indeed at work in our lives. However, we need to look to our land as well. Commit to the process of spiritual growth and be quick to learn the lessons of obedience, work and rest, and faith. Then God will prosper you in the land that He has for you, and the work of your hands will be blessed.
Read Next: Break Your Manna Mindset
Very powerful message sir, and I must say, after reading this message I’m reminded of something that I forget almost every day of my life in my journey, and that is He’s power and forever full filled promise of never leaving us as His people….No matter how hard it may be always be reminded He is there with you…Thank you very much Mr Epperhart
It is amazing how God is able to start with just one person’s relationship of obedience (e.g. Abraham … Jesus) and create a culture of redemption!