Meat and Manna--Part 1
Jul 16, 2008
We may be entering a difficult time in history, with food and energy shortages, and where some people may become fearful. So it is appropriate that we look in Scripture to see how God has dealt with this problem in the past.
In Exodus 16 we read how the Israelites complained because they were running out of food even before they got to Mount Sinai. So God told Moses that He would provide "flesh" to eat in the evening, followed by "bread" in the morning. Verses 6-8 also attach prophetic significance to these two foods:
" (6) So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, 'At evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt; (7) and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, for He hears your grumblings against the Lord, and what are we, that you grumble against us?' (8) And Moses said, 'This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning'."
The "meat in the evening" is the equivalent of knowing "that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt." The "bread to the full in the morning" is the equivalent of seeing "the glory of the Lord."
Most of us know that God fed Israel with manna (bread) in the wilderness. But not many recall that He also fed them with flesh in the evening. He fed them twice a day, not just once.
These two meals correlate with the two comings of Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 6:48, "I am the bread of life," equating Himself with the manna that came down from heaven under Moses. But Jesus was also the "flesh" and "meat" that God provided for the people, because He was the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
Back in those days, this went against the very foundations of Greek religion, which taught that matter (flesh) was inherently evil, and that a good God could never taint Himself by touching human flesh. It also went against the very foundations of Jewish religion (not the same as biblical teaching). The idea that God could be born on earth in a human body was incomprehensible to them. It seems they thought that either God was incapable of such things or that such an act would be beneath His dignity.
Exodus 16:6, 7 suggests that the meat, or flesh, was given first that same evening. The manna (bread) came the following morning. The order of events--or at least the order in which it is stated--tells us that Christ's first coming was the manifestation of the flesh being given to Israel. If He was the Bread from heaven, He was also the Flesh from Heaven. For this reason, in His first coming, He came in human flesh.
The purpose of the "meat in the evening" was so that we would know that God has brought us out of Egypt. The purpose of Christ's first coming was to be the Passover Lamb, by which He brought us out of our own Egypt, the "house of bondage" (sin). As the Passover Lamb, His flesh was to be "eaten" in a spiritual sense (John 6:53-56).
The purpose of the manna in the morning was so that we would see the glory of God. That speaks, not of Passover, but of the feast of Tabernacles. In Ex. 16:14 we read that the manna covered the ground. The KJV reads "as the hoar frost on the ground." However, the word translated "hoar" iskephore, which comes from kaphar, "to cover." It should read simply, "the frost covering the ground."
So when the manna was given in the morning, the ground looked like frost had covered it. In other words, it was white with frost, and it represented the glory of the Lord covering the ground. That is the purpose of the feast of Tabernacles. It is to cover the "ground" (your body) with the glory of God. You are made of the dust of the ground, and the manna in the wilderness prophesies of the goal of history--the manifestation of the sons of God, wherein God's glory appears in us and upon us.
The distinction between the flesh and the bread is therefore the distinction between Passover and Tabernacles. In between is the feast of Pentecost, which is the mixture realm. It is the time during which we are tested to see if we want to go back to Egypt (Passover) or ahead to the Kingdom (Tabernacles).
In reading the full story some years ago, it struck me that God gave Israel flesh (quail) to eat in Exodus 16 even before they got to Sinai, but some time later, they complained because they missed meat in their diet. We see this in Numbers 11:4-6,
" (4) And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, 'Who will give us meat to eat?' . . . (6) There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."
In other words, by this time, the meat had ceased, and all they had was manna. The meat was therefore a temporary provision, which I believe ended at Pentecost when they arrived at Mount Sinai. Since the meat represented Passover, they were to eat of that "meat" only until Pentecost, at which time they were to focus upon the manna of the feast of Tabernacles.
Their later desire for meat, however, showed the condition of their hearts and prophesied of the Church's loss of a Tabernacles vision. The meat was a suitable diet prior to Pentecost in Exodus 16, but it made them sick in Numbers 11:33. Evangelical Christians who focus entirely upon Passover and the Cross, and who lose sight of the feast of Tabernacles, are pictured here. They are tired of the manna and want a continual diet of the meat of Passover. Preaching the Cross is essential at first, but when the Church continually preaches to the choir and gives altar calls to those who are already believers, it is counter productive. It will make them sick. Hence, Hebrews 6:1 says,
"Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God."
In the story of Israel, we see that their time in the wilderness was their time of testing under Pentecost. They often complained and wanted to return to Egypt. They grumbled and murmured against Moses and Aaron. This, too, pictures the Church in the Age of Pentecost, where they have been undergoing their wilderness training.
Another way of looking at this is that the Church is being called from the Old Covenant to the New. Just because Jesus has established the New Covenant does not mean that we all suddenly think like New Covenant Christians. No, we have the same trouble as the Israelites, who refused to hear His voice in Ex. 20:18-20, and who therefore were unable to receive the law written on their hearts (by the spoken word).
The Old Covenant was given at Mount Sinai, which is identified as "Hagar" (Gal. 4:25). The name comes from the Hebrew word hagaw, which means "to murmur." In other words, the primary characteristic of Old Covenant mentality is our tendency to murmur or grumble when we run out of food in the wilderness.
Another major manna factor is that the people were to gather only a certain portion (an omer per person) each day. In studying this recently, I discovered something that I did not know before. It is how the biblical measurements (such as an omer) are prophetic of and relate to time measurements.
To be continued.
This is the first part of a series titled "Meat and Manna." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones