“… and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. Then the people 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, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:13-16).
Manna was the food God sent and it’s literal meaning is “what is it?” God poured it down. A hoarfrost of silvery white settled morning after morning. It tasted of coriander and honey.
Before it was gathered, before it was cooked in pans, before it was a cake spicy and sweet tasting of pastry cooked in oil as described in Numbers 11:8. It was a riddle. “What is it?” Nourishment from God waiting to be gathered. Moses told the hesitating and questioning people, “it is bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”
They gathered up what was good. They learned the intricacies of this white riddle. When and how it could be gathered. It could be gathered for six days but you could only take as much as you actually needed for the day. It could not be hoarded. This sweet manna would rot when the amount given was not used.
This is a story of God testing, or as I like to think of it, as inviting me to love Him. See His providence. Every day enough grace to see me through. Sunrise to sunrise the exact amount of what is needed in just the right amount of time.
Eventually this manna sent from God wouldn’t satisfy. Echoes of Eden, Eve wanting more and Adam saying yes. They both find themselves in a garden surrounded by beauty yet acting ugly, doubting God’s gift as being enough and accusing God of wrong for giving the gift. God gave enough. It is us that become unsatisfied.
God gave creation. God gave life. God gave food. Most importantly, God gave Jesus Christ.
Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” John 6:26-27
“What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”
Jesus stands on the other side of the sea from where the crowd had been looking for Him. They seek to work the works of God. Jesus answers,”believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). But the people want to see. They want to see the manna in the desert as their ancestors had.
They question Christ “what shall we do?” and “what work will You do?” All the while Jesus Christ explains:
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32-33
What is it? Emmanuel God with us. Right there in front of us.