The people are hungry as they travel though the wilderness, and their grumbling begins again as they remind Moses yet again how “good” they had it back in Egypt (verse 3). A ridiculous assertion that tends to make us shake our heads, but we weren’t wandering in that barren land. Moses rebukes them well when he makes the Lord’s intentions known to them in verses 6-8, letting them know that they are really grumbling against the one who delivered them. The “glory of the Lord” in verse 10 is “just” another physical manifestation of God that we will read of again in many passages. It may be helpful to remember these passages when someone is struggling (wrestling?) with the passage about Jacob wrestling with the Lord in Genesis 32:22-30.
We still do not know what it is, but the “manna” (which sounds like “what is it”) that the lord rained down is referred to as bread. It served the obvious purpose of feeding them for 40 years (almost as amazing as the way it was provided), but also was part of the “testing” that the Lord referred to in verse 4. They are being prepared for the way of life that God intends to present to them in the ten commandments later. The sabbath is to be a day of rest with no gathering. When some tried to save some for the following day, contrary to instructions, it would stink and grow worms (verse 20). But not so with the manna they gathered the day before the sabbath – when no manna would fall (verse 27). They would have to learn for themselves, though.
Paul quotes verse 18 in 2 Corinthians 8:15, when he is admonishing the Christians there to use their abundance to help supply the needs of other Christians. Jesus refers to the manna in John 6:41-58, where He says that He is the bread that came down from heaven, foreshadowing His death and our salvation. The manna was more than just nourishment for the people of Israel. Jesus came to earth to be more than just a teacher or just a “good man,” as some would claim.
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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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