The Bible is full of stories of God providing for people in unlikely ways. In 2 Kings 4, God saved a poor widow by miraculously multiplying her olive oil supply. Every gospel accounts for how Jesus fed over 5,000 people with just two loaves of bread and five fish. However, there is one miracle that lasted far longer than a moment – it endured for forty years. God used manna in the Bible to feed the Israelites during their exodus from Egyptian slavery and their entry into the Promised Land.
Manna was a sweet, flaky bread that rained down from the sky every day for four decades (with the exception of the sabbath.) There is much more to manna than meets the eye. So, this blog post covers:
- What was manna in the Bible?
- What does manna in the Bible mean?
- How long did God provide manna?
- What did Jesus say about manna?
As odd as it may seem, manna has a lot to teach us about our wealth building journey. Read to the end to learn lessons manna from Bible can teach you about obedience, rest, and faith.
What was manna in the Bible?
Manna was how 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.”
Coriander seeds are roughly three millimeters long. That is small! For forty years, the Israelites dined on tiny, melt-in-your-mouth drops of bread.
Psalms 78:23-25 emphasizes this supernatural provision by calling manna “the bread of angels”:
“But he commanded the skies to open;
he opened the doors of heaven.
He rained down manna for them to eat;
he gave them bread from heaven.
They ate the food of angels!
God gave them all they could hold.”
What does manna in the Bible mean?
When manna fell from the sky for the first time, the Israelites had no idea what it was. So, they named it manna. The literal Hebrew translation of manna means “what is it?”
Manna represents God’s miraculous provision based on HIs grace alone. We receive modern day manna when financial blessings, job opportunities, and divine connections with new people seemingly fall out of the sky.
How long did God provide manna?
God provided manna for 40 years when the Israelites were in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:35) The manna stopped as soon as they entered the Promised Land.
On the Passover night before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the Israelites ate produce from their new home.
Joshua 5:12 says, “Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.”
There is a key wealth building principle here: God’s ultimate will is for you to eat from the produce of your land. Though God may sustain you supernaturally for a time, eventually He will lead you to break your manna mindset. The ultimate goal is to put down roots, cultivate the land with God, and bless others with the abundance.
3 Lessons from Manna in the Bible
God used manna in the Bible to teach the Israelites a few critical lessons to prepare them before they entered the Promised Land. 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.
(Every lesson is derived from Exodus 16. We encourage you to go read the entire chapter.)
“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. At the time, the Israelites had spent 400 years under Egyptian authority. Now, God was introducing them to a different way of doing things.
The instructions for collecting manna in the Bible 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 than Egypt—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 us how to be obedient through His kindness. God did not teach the Israelites about obedience by punishing them, he taught them by giving them free bread.
Activate: Obedience Over Everything
Before God brings you into a new season of purpose and provision, you will probably be tested. That is because the next chapter of your life will require a new level of obedience and connection to God. You are leveling up!
Soak in the Word of God and commit yourself wholeheartedly to its teachings. Ask God, “What does obedience look like in this season?” and go where He leads.
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 instituted 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.
ACTIVATE: Rest with God
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 to follow Yahweh or the gods of mammon (If you read the rest of the Old Testament, many of them choose wrongly.) The wilderness was a place where the Israelites could choose to trust in God’s faithfulness.
Activate Your Trust
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.
What did Jesus say about manna?
Jesus’ reference to manna can be found in John 6:30-35. Like manna, Jesus tells His followers that He provides supernatural provision for all of our needs:
“So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
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.”
Manna Is Just The Beginning…
As you can see, the manna was a teaching tool. However, God did not plan for the Israelites to survive on manna forever. Once they learned a few lessons, they moved into and cultivated 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 Promised Land as well. You have constant access to Jesus, the bread of life, and He wants to partner with you to do incredible things. As you do God’s will, He will never let your cup run empty.
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.
This post was originally published on June 21, 2022, and has since been updated to serve you with more accurate and comprehensive content.