It never occurs to us that angels eat, still less that God would take royal dainties from their bountiful board on high and pour them out to hungry mortal beings in a howling wilderness on a remote island planet in space called Earth. Yet this is what happened. God gave them "the corn of heaven." He gave them "angels' food." And that wondrous "bread from heaven" not only satisfied their hunger, but it was also a type of Jesus Himself, the Bread of God upon whom we feed as we wind our way through the wilderness of this world to the Promised Land above.
The story of the manna, as it was called, begins with the discontent of the people. They were a people recently redeemed from the house of bondage and from the sentence of death. They had been redeemed by power, put under the blood, baptized unto Moses in the sea, gathered to the living god, and were moving homewards. But they were hungry, and the wilderness had nothing to offer; just as the world has nothing to offer our hungry souls. So, the people murmured and complained. They thought nostalgically of how well they were fed on onions, leeks and garlic in Egypt. They conveniently forgot the toil, the sweat, the tears, the lash, the scourge and the genocidal law that destined their young to certain death. And they murmured against Moses and against God.
Then came the discovery of the people. They awoke one morning to a world turned white as thought with frost. But it was noting on the kind. God had spread a table for them in the wilderness. They called the mysterious food "manna.' It was all about them, well within the reach of all, of easy access to young and old, bread from heaven, sweet to the taste, satisfying to their needs. It could be baked or broiled. The rabbis had a tradition that said it tasted like whatever kind of food a person desired. It would melt in their mouth.
Thus God meets our spiritual hunger. He showers upon us all that there is in Christ and in His Word to satisfy our hungry souls.
Take the Word of God, for instance. We need only reach out our hands and take it, 773,692 divinely inspired words (592,439 in the Old Testament and 181,253 in the New), and each and every word is God-breathed. What an inexhaustible provision for our daily spiritual needs. Christ too! He is the true Bread from heaven, manna enough and to spare for our hungry souls.
But then came the disobedience of the people. The rules for gathering the manna were simple, and they were intended as a test of obedience. There were three rules. First, there was the simple rule. The manna came down with the dew and vanished with the sun. The person too lazy to gather his or her daily supply went hungry. There was nothing else.
It could not be stored. A person could not gather enough on Monday to last all week. It perished if an attempt was made to hoard it. Similarly, we must feast on the Word day by day. And we must be up before the sun waxes hot, that is, before the rush and bustle of our busy lives robs us of time to gather our daily bread.
There was also the Sabbath rule. No manna came on the Sabbath, God's day of rest; but a double portion came the day before, and stayed fresh. The principle of rest is essential to life. Even plants have periods of growth and periods of rest.
Finally, there was the special rule. A pot of manna was miraculously preserved in the tabernacle, generation after generation, to remind us that God will feed us until we want no more.