Bread From Heaven
by Peter Kek
Pastor Of Grace Reformed Church
Alright, I’d like to say again it’s a joy to see you all here this morning. I think ever since the MCO, I have learned not to take for granted the privilege and the blessing of being able to gather. I do not know when MCO may be reinstituted again, so let’s pray for God’s mercy that we would be able to continue to gather. And also like to express my joy for those who are joining us online. Again, it is really a joy alright to have you also with us. I am aware that some of you are in places where your internet connection is not stable. You are in our hearts alright. We pray that you will be able to join us. I particularly remember Vincent and Karen, last night your connection was not stable, I hope you are here with us.
Now last week I told you that I love Tat Heng’s car alright. But after last night’s Bible study, I think I love Popemobile more alright. I also love his shoes, I think must be by Jimmy Choo. And I’m thinking why you know I don’t have a crown alright? Maybe I should make a paper crown. Not a papal crown, maybe this paper crown alright for us. Now you see, much thoughts have gone through my mind, I say what’s the difference between the pope and a pastor. Well, I’m glad to be the pastor alright of an ordinary church alright, a church. Now we learn from church history, and we hope that through the lessons, we learn to be more and more alright biblical in our church life and in our practice.
Now, this morning we are going to look at an amazing story in the Bible. And when I notified the media team, I got a respondent asking me whether this is a series. I told them I’m not very sure whether this would turn into a series. Well, why not? Because when you read your Bible, you know that there are many amazing stories in the Bible alright. And if you have grown up in the church alright, attended Sunday school, you would have realized that. You think of the amazing story of Noah’s ark, or that amazing story of the burning bush, or the amazing story of Jonah, and so on and so forth, so much so that many people perhaps think that the Bible really is an interesting book, but mainly for the children.
Looks like children are the people who are more excited with these amazing stories. But no, these amazing stories are not meant only for the Sunday school children. Now turn with me to First Corinthians chapter 10 alright- 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 alright, verses 1 through 4. Now, this is what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. Now he said in 1 Corinthians 10:1- “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea”. In other words, Moses is recollecting. He’s telling them about those amazing events or stories of their past, how they crossed the Red Sea. Verse 2: “all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food”, referring to the manna, “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them”, that too was an amazing story, “and that Rock was Christ”.
Now you see, what Moses is saying that now all those amazing stories, they are pointing to something or to someone. They are pointing to Christ. So why was this amazing story recorded or being told to generation after generation, and why should we be looking at these amazing stories? Look at verse 11. Verse 11: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, that they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”. So they were written for us, and that’s what Paul was telling the Corinthian church. It’s written for you to learn. In other words, the reason why we need to tell these stories is that we might learn from them. So today, we are going to look at one of these amazing stories of the Bible, and that is the story of the manna alright- the manna.
You must ask, what is so amazing about these stories? Now if you have been following the reading just now, I think you have already sensed something of the you know the wonder of this story. It is about food from heaven alright sent by God to a people who did not deserve this food. We learned that these people were grumbling alright, and God gave them bread from heaven. So my title this morning is “Bread from Heaven”, taken from verse 4: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven”. Question then is: So what does this story teach us? Now I’ll like to highlight three important truths or lessons from this story. The first, it tells us about our need, man’s need. And second, it tells us about God’s gift, God’s gracious gift. And thirdly, it tells us how the man in need may receive the gift of God. Alright, let us look at this story together.
Look at the first lesson- man in need. Man in need. Now we are told even in the previous chapter, verse 22 alright, Exodus 15:22 that “Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.”. And so here is a people, the Israelites living, having crossed the Red Sea, and they were in the wilderness of Shur and found no water. Then they came to a place called Marah. Verse 23: And “now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. And therefore they called the place Marah.”. And so they went to that place and there was no water. God later then gave them water by asking Moses to throw a log or piece of wood into the water, to turn the bitter water into sweet water.
And then they went on right, they moved on. Verse 27: “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.”. And so you can see that they were journeying alright towards the Promised Land, moving from one place to another, and now at Elim. So when they come to chapter 16, verse 1: Then “they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin”. Not that that wilderness was sinful alright, but just that is the name of that place alright, of that area called Sin. Not the place was sinful, but rather the people who are sinful. But anyway, they were at this place called the wilderness of Sin, and that place is between Elim and Sinai. So that is the setting alright. They were moving, and now that wilderness of Sin between Elim and Sinai.
Now we are also told that at this point there were 15, now they were there on the 15th day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. Meaning to say they were 45 days since they left Egypt. So what happened? Now then we learned that the people alright- the people were in need. Verse 2: “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel (murmur or) complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”. They were grumbling and complaining. Now, why? Well the reason, verse 3, because the children of Israel said to Aaron, or Moses and Aaron), “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”.
‘Hunger’, so that is the important word here. They are saying to Moses and Aaron, can you not see our problem, or rather the problem you have you know put upon us alright, or you led us to? Can you not see that we are all dying of hunger? We are all starving, nothing to eat. Nothing to eat. So they were complaining, and the complaint is that they were dying of hunger. So that is the first thing to see in this amazing story, and that is to see that these people were in dire need. They were in trouble.
Now hunger, sometimes we say hunger and people maybe in our society cannot understand what that word means, but we know hunger is a big problem even in our day and age. In many places in this world, maybe you can ask the World Vision people alright, they will know that there are many places in this world where they have this big problem of starvation, that people have nothing to eat and they are dying. Hunger. We sometimes hear people say that a hungry man is what? Is an angry man. I think parents know that.
I remember when my first child, Woei Shyong, was still a baby. You know, young parents, now those young parents like Aaron and Ern Huey alright, you will know that. Especially with the first kid. And when the baby is hungry, you can hear the scream or the cry. As young parents you know, you panic, don’t know what to do, trying to pacify or rushing you know to get the milk for the child. But you know why the baby is angry alright, because he is hungry. Now that is the meaning here. That is a problem that we are seeing here. As I say that you know if we live in a fluent society we cannot understand what this verse 3 is about, what the cry is about, what the trouble, what kind of problem that they were in. So hunger is a terrible thing. It is a painful experience, and millions are dying of hunger today. So the Israelites were suffering alright. They were in need, dying of starvation.
I say starvation is the kind of pain, it’s such a slow, agonising, painful experience because you don’t just die you know in a matter of seconds. It’s a slow, painful experience that these people are going through. And so you can imagine these people. They’re hungry and they’re angry and they are dying and they are in pain. And so what did they do? Alright, they were in trouble, so what did they do? Well, we are told in verses 2 and 3, you look at those two verses again. We are told that they murmur because verse 2 says that the whole congregation of the children Israel complained or murmur against Moses and Aaron. So they murmur, they complained. But Moses told them that when they complained, they were not really complaining against Moses and Aaron. They were actually complaining against God. Who brought them into this situation? Not Moses and Aaron. They have forgotten that.
Who brought you into this world? Sometimes we think these other people is the cause of our problem, and we complain. But then we say eh, who brought us into this world. You’re actually complaining against God, Moses tells them alright. But you see, so we know that God brought them out, and God has brought them into this situation. But that’s all forgotten right, they’ve forgotten. The whole thing alright, the whole experience they had with God alright and God has brought them through, how did God brought them alright to this place? Well, you still remember, Moses might be reminding, if you still remember, what happened to you? Well in chapter 3 of Exodus, you might remember in verses 7 and 8, and this is what God said alright in Exodus 3: “And God said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt””.
You remember that I just brought you out of Egypt. What were you like in Egypt? You see, you have forgotten. This problem that you’re going through, God says remember I brought you out of Egypt because I “have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows”. Verse 8: “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, and the Hivites and the Jebusites.”. So God is saying to them that you have forgotten My compassion for you and My grace for you. And so in other words, despite all that God had done for them, now at this point when they come to chapter 16, they ought to remember all that God had done for them.
What? Remember the plagues they got sent. Remember God bringing through the Red Sea, crossing of the Red Sea. Remember God turning that water and made it drinkable for them. Remember, you see, what they have forgotten is the many blessings of God that God has showered upon them in their life. Now that is so true of so many Christians. When we come to a little problem or a particular problem, we complain and we forgot all the blessings of God. And so God is saying to them that you must remember My mercy and My grace for you. So despite all that God had done to deliver them from bondage from Egypt, they now call into question His love, and His power, and His wisdom. And that’s what they are doing. That’s what Moses is reminding them of alright that you are actually calling into question God’s integrity or His character. You’re not complaining against us, you’re complaining against God.
Such ungrateful people, that’s what Moses is trying to tell. You are such ungrateful people. You are a sinful lot. You have forgotten all of God’s blessings. You see, people in this world are not thankful to God. They have been daily receiving everything and they think that they got it all by themselves. But remember, everything in this life, they all come from God. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. But you see, you have forgotten and you are ungrateful to God. So what should God have done to these people? What should God have done to these people who are complaining and murmuring? What would you do or what will you tell God to do? God, what should you do to these people? If God would ask you, what should I do with them?
Well, that leads to the second important truth right in this amazing story, and that is God’s gracious gift. So we see man’s great needs alright, now we see God’s gracious gift. Now God would have been justified. He would have been justified in killing them on the spot alright because of their ungratefulness. But we read in verse 4 alright- verse 4: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain” fire and brimstone from heaven. No, that’s not what God said. God would have been justified if He rained fire and brimstone from heaven. But He said: “I will rain bread from heaven for you”. I will rain bread from heaven. Now that is mercy. That is the graciousness of God. Now God’s great grace. So this is the amazing truth of this amazing story. This is an amazing story, but this is the amazing truth that we must not miss.
The amazing grace of God in the manna story. Instead of judgment, God sent His Son. That’s what the Bible tells us, for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. That is what God has done so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Instead of death, we all deserve that. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Now you see what the Bible is constantly proclaiming to us, that we who deserve death, we who deserve punishment, we who deserve hell, but God give us His gracious gift of eternal life through His Son! Now, this is the amazing truth of this story here. And so God says, “I will rain bread from heaven”. Now we want to ask: What is this bread? What is this bread that God rained from heaven for these people?
Well, you look at verse 11 alright- verse 11 of Exodus 16. Verse 11 said: And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the (murmuring or) complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And they shall know that I am the LORD your God.’”. Then verse 13: “So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp.”. So in the morning, find dew kind of falling from heaven, and it covered the ground. Verse 14: “And the layer of the dew lifted, there, and on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.”. And so when the dew lifted, I suppose that means it’s evaporated, and then you find this powder or what powdery thing or white thing, white substance on the ground.
And verse 15: “So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.”. And so we want to think about this bread here that fell from heaven or that God sent from heaven. It came in this form. The dew came, dries up, then we see this white substance on the ground. And then the people look at it and they said: Hmm, what shall we call this substance? And so probably they were thinking of maybe there was a name, maybe Moses knew the name. Moses could tell them this is durian. No, not durian alright. Now they were thinking: What is this? Now they did not know, and therefore they called it “what is it”. Now that reminds me of Jackie Chan alright. “Who am I” alright, which is his name.
Now here is a Hebrew word. The Hebrew word is Ma’n Hu. Now we don’t know what Ma’n Hu means, but I think we all know what Mantou means alright, now we know what that is. Ma’n Hu, but actually that word “Ma’n Hu” literally means “what is it”. So they were speaking you know in Hebrew and say what is it? Ma’n Hu? And that name kind of stuck. So in verse 31, in verse 31, the house of Israel called it “what is it”, or translated here as “manna”. And so if you have a Bible that has a footnote there, then you can see that literally means “what” or “what is it”. And so that is the meaning of manna. They do not know what is it alright, they don’t know what food it is. But that name stuck. What is it alright, literally that is the meaning of the word.
Then later on in Psalms alright, we read in Psalm 78. Psalm 78, in verse 22. Psalm 78, and beginning in verse 22. Now here we read: Now “because they did not believe in God, and did not trust in His salvation. Yet He commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven”, or here is speaking of God’s grace. Now they did not believe, they were rebelling against God, yet God opened the doors of heaven. Verse 24: “had rained down manna”, or rained down “what is it” “on them to eat, and given them bread of heaven.” So “what is it” or “manna” is bread of heaven. Verse 25: “Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full.”. And in other words, they were saying: God sent that bread, and that bread is called “what is it” or “manna”, and it is really heavenly food or angels’ food or things like that, bread of heaven.
So there’s various descriptions of this food. But that is what this food is. Manna is a gift from God. It’s a gift from heaven alright. That is what it means, and they all know that. They don’t understand. They have got no name for it. They don’t know what exactly is this food, it’s like angels’ food, it’s heavenly food. Now here then again is the amazing truth alright- the amazing truth of this story here, that this amazing, mysterious food that fell from heaven is a picture of Jesus Christ. It points to Jesus. Just as Paul told the Corinthians right in First Corinthians 10 that this is Christ. This is Christ. Look at John alright. Look at what Jesus said in John chapter 6, what Jesus said in connection with this food, with manna in John 6:48. Verse 48. Now Jesus said: “I am the bread of life. Now your fathers ate the “what is it” or manna in the wilderness, and are dead.”.
Now you see, Jesus is clearly thinking of the manna incident. Your father ate manna, the bread from heaven. But I am the bread of heaven. I’m the bread of life. I’m the true bread of life. That is only a picture. Verse 49: “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”.
So can you not see now Jesus making that connection? That the story is about Me, that what God has provided for them is showing to you that what God is going to provide for the world who are in need, who are dying. And those who come to Me and eat of Me, Jesus said, we will live forever. So Jesus is that manna, is that bread from heaven. And so in verse 58: “This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”. Alright, that’s the difference, there’s a distinction here. So He is in other words the true manna, the true bread from heaven. Now just as heaven, now in what sense is Jesus the bread from heaven, the manna, the true manna?
Just as manna was sent from heaven, now Jesus was sent from heaven. And God so loved the world, He sent His only begotten Son. Just as manna was mysterious, so was our Lord Jesus Christ. And that’s why Jesus asked His disciples: “And who do you say that I am”? Just as manna appeared ordinary when people look at the seed substance on the ground, it looks very ordinary food, so was our Lord Jesus Christ, in His human form was ordinary and unimpressive. Just as manna was a gift given to people who do not deserve, so is our Lord Jesus Christ given to us who did not deserve this gift. Just as manna was sufficient for all their needs, the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for all our needs. So manna is God’s gracious gift to a dying people; Jesus is therefore God’s gracious gift to a dying world.
So that is the second important truth that we need to grasp as we look at this amazing story. And that leads us to the third. And so we learned that in this story of the manna, the truth that we are all in need like the Israelites, we are all dying. We all know that we are dying. Slow, painful death. But God is gracious. God is gracious. He gave us this gracious gift of the bread from heaven.
Thirdly, the third important truth is: How may we receive this gift? How may a dying man and woman, a dying boy and girl, receive this gracious gift from God? Now two things to take note of here. First, what did God say? What did God say to them or expect them to do? Now back to Exodus 16:16 alright- Exodus 16:16. Same question right today in the New Testament we ask the question: What must I do to be saved? What does the Bible tell us? What does God tell us? Now verse 16, it says here: “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.’”.
Now verse 17: “Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need.”. And then Moses said, and this is important. This information are not there for nothing alright. It is to tell, it is to answer that question: “What must I do to be saved?” alright. What did God tell them? What did God command them? Verse 19: “And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.””. So that’s what God said to them. So the food will fall from heaven every day, and you are to go out and gather according to your need, one omer per person alright according to your need. You collect for your family. You got five people in your family, you collect five omers. So those are the particular instructions, very simple instruction.
Now the gospel is very simple, it’s simple instruction: do as I say. Now there are more to that alright. Verse 22. Verse 22, the instructions continued: “And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’””. Verse 24: “So they laid it up till the morning, as Moses commanded; it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.”. Verse 25: “Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days”, verse 26, “you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.””.
So this kind of, a lot of instructions here from verse 16 right up till verse 26, you see this particular instruction given to the people. Why? What are these instructions? So I said the first part already, I’ve already told you. The second part of the instruction is: on the sixth day, you are to collect twice as much, two omers per person. Then you keep for the next day. The next day, it’s a Sabbath day, you don’t go out alright- don’t go out. Some of you say this is an MCO alright, don’t go out alright and collect because there’s nothing to be collected on the Sabbath Day.
Now the instructions is very clear, but the lesson is also very clear. The instruction is: do as God tells you to do. But what are we told here? Look at verse 20: “Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank.”. Some people, maybe they went out and they collected more alright. Instead of collecting one omer per person, you know a lot of kiasu people right, they go and I think I’d better collect more, just in case. Just in case, and then go buy all the toilet paper and you know left nothing for other people. And God says don’t do that, just take what you need alright- just take what you need, because it is no use taking more because you cannot because expiry date is by tonight alright. Then tomorrow cannot eat anymore. It’s true! So next day, worms. Rotten.
Now the other instruction is of course the sixth day, you collect more and keep for the next day, and it won’t stink. The expiry date extended alright to the next day. But next day, there’s nothing left there. And what do we find the people doing? Well, we read here in verse 27: “Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but found none”. You see, told you not to go out, told you there’s nothing there, but they don’t believe. They don’t believe. Now that is the key here alright- that’s the key here. The only way to benefit from this gift is to receive it by faith. Believe in the Word of God. And God said this, it is true. Now that is what faith is about. Well, we have just finished the series on faith in Hebrews chapter 11. What is faith? Faith is believing the Word of God. It’s almost like we can say, that’s it!
People say, what is faith? People argue this faith, that faith. Very simple, just take God’s Word for it. And God says that Jesus is the only way, He is the only way. When God says there’s heaven and hell, there is heaven and hell. When God says the world will come to an end, it will come to an end. When God says there will be a last judgment, we will all stand before the judgments of Christ. Believe it. Believe it that there will be a day of judgment for every one of us and everyone will be called into account. But what do people say? They don’t believe! Ah, they say bluff. Oh, I mean just no need to take God’s Word seriously.
That is a problem with these people. And that is a lesson here, that only way to receive this gift is by believing the Word of God. How do we know whether a person believes or not? The only way to know whether they believe alright- the only way to know whether they believe is obedience. They didn’t obey God alright. They went against the Word of God. And sometimes we also you know think too hard about trying to define faith and trying to tell whether people have faith. Now how do you know whether a person has faith or not? It’s very easy. Obedience. Obedience is the proof. If I would say, it’s an acid test alright whether you truly believe.
So I want to ask: Do you see these amazing truths in this amazing story? It’s not for Sunday school kids, you know. Not for children, you know bedtime stories. It is for all of us. Let me say it again. We are people in need. We are all dying, but God sent His gracious gift of life, and that is His Son, Jesus Christ. The only way to receive this gracious gift of God is believe. What must I do to be saved? And Paul said to the Philippian jailer: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and Thou shall be saved. That is the lesson of this story. Let us pray.
“Our Father in heaven, we do want to thank You again for these incidents and stories recorded in the Bible. We see that these are great events, amazing stories. But Lord we pray that we may not miss the amazing lessons and truths. And we pray therefore this morning that You would impress this truth once again upon us, that we who have received this gift may rejoice, for we know that we receive it not because we deserve it but because You have been merciful and gracious to us. We pray for those who have yet to know of this gift that You might grant faith to them. Help them to see that they are people dying in pain, needing salvation, needing light from God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. So may You be gracious to all of us this morning. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.