For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough


Of all the OT types of Christ, none is more easily interpreted than that of the manna, for in John 6 the Lord declared, “Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread.... I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger ... I am the living bread ... if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever....”

From Exodus 16 and John 6 we learn that the manna is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ as the believer’s spiritual food.  It is to be noted that the giving of the manna was preceded by the giving of the quails (small birds) Ex 16:13.  The birds, given only once in blessing, portray Christ dying once for our sins; but the manna, given every day for forty years, portrays Him as the spiritual bread given to sustain our new life during all the days of our earthly pilgrimage.

It isn’t difficult to see, then, that the instructions relative to the gathering and preparation of the manna, have lessons for us relative to our appropriation of the written Word.

“...  on the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground,” Ex 16:14.  This speaks of the easy availability of Christ as our spiritual food. It lay all around them waiting to be gathered.  The Antitype, Christ the written Word, is also easily available.  An unused Bible is a reproach to any professing Christian.

Manna, meaning what is it? reminds us that (1) finite minds cannot comprehend Him fully, (2) believers, to their shame, have sometimes almost as little knowledge of Christ as do unbelievers.

Its being small declares that Christ is valued little on earth, sometimes even by believers; but its being round (symbol of what is eternal) assures us that the One represented by the manna, is also eternal: He is God.  And its being white reminds us of the spotless purity of the living Word presented as our spiritual food in the written Word.

“Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man.... And (they) gathered, some more, some less.  And when they did measure it ... he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack,” Ex 16:16-18.  Here in symbol, we are assured of the sufficiency of Christ to satisfy every believer.  The Holy Spirit Who has given to each man his spiritual capacity, apportions also to each faithful gatherer exactly what his need requires.  No obedient believer ever finds that he has either too little or too much of Christ.

“Let no man leave of it till the morning.  Notwithstanding ... some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank,” Ex 16:19-20.  Having found no better comment on this than that in the Scofield Reference Bible, I quote, “As man is not nourished by the memory of food, so the Christian cannot be spiritually sustained on past appropriations of Christ.”

“... and when the sun became hot, it melted.”  The time to gather our spiritual food is in the morning, before the things of the world have time to distract us.

“... bake that which ye will bake today, and boil that ye will boil,” verse 23.  This need to cook the manna reminds us that more than reading is required to derive spiritual nourishment from the Scriptures.  Baking, involving fire, was the process by which the manna, hidden from view in the oven, was converted into food.  It is the symbolic declaration of the fact that the Holy Spirit, of Whom the fire is a symbol, has an essential part to play in transmuting what we read, into that which will nourish the soul.  It follows therefore that obedience is essential if we would “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” 2 Pe 3:18, for a Holy Spirit, quenched and grieved, will not work.

Boiling, in addition to fire, requires also water, a fact which teaches us symbolically of the need to study.  The vessel is the believer; the water is the Word which has been poured into the mind through past reading and study; and the “omer of manna” being boiled is that portion of the Word presently being studied. As fire bubbles up the water and cooks what is in the pot, so will an unquenched and ungrieved Holy Spirit “bubble up” in my mind truth already stored there, bringing it to bear on what I am presently studying, so that it is transformed into spiritual food.

Despite having been commanded to gather on the sixth day twice as much, because none would be found on the sabbath, some disobedient Israelites went out on the seventh day, but were disappointed.  At least three lessons suggest themselves, (1) if there has been no “gathering” before coming to the Lord’s table on the first day of each week, it is folly to imagine that we will somehow find something when we get there, (2) without previous “gathering” there will be nothing available when opportunity presents itself to witness to the unconverted, or to minister to fellow believers, (3) if there has been no gathering in youth and middle age, there will be only lack when old age comes.

The preservation, in the ark, of an omer of manna in a golden pot (Ex 16:33-34; Heb 9:4), declares that that same Christ Who was despised and dishonored on earth, is the same One Who sits now at God’s right hand, “crowned with glory and honor,” (Heb 2:9).

There is a further reference to the manna in Nu 11:5-6, where it is recorded that a murmuring disobedient Israel complained, “We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt.... But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.”  God’s angry response was to send the plague by means of quails, given this second time, not to bring life, but death.

The lesson is easily read.  Rejection of the written Word, is tantamount to rejection of the living Word, and it brings death. The widespread distaste on the part of professing Christians, for any study of the Word is an ominous sign, for it raises the question as to whether there has ever been a new birth.  Spiritual life and aversion to Bible study are a paradox.

A further instance of their rejection of the manna is recorded in Nu 21:5, “... our soul loatheth this light bread,” in response to which, “the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people ... and many people ... died.”  Those who profess to be believers, but who have no desire to read and study the Word, should tremble.  It is not for nothing that God twice visits with death rejection of the manna.  Love of the Word measures love for the Lord.  Rejection of the Word is rejection of Christ: and rejection of Christ is death.


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough