Manna and Quail

Exactly one month after their departure from Egypt, the children of Israel came into the Wilderness of Sin. They soon grumbled against the Lord as they remembered the bread and meat they ate in Egypt. God responded to their request with manna from heaven and quail in great numbers.

The manna was found on the ground after the nighttime dew evaporated, leaving behind a fine, flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. The cakes made from it tasted like cakes baked with oil. The manna itself was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.—Exod. 16:1-36, Num. 11:4-35, English Standard Version

The manna had to be gathered daily before melting in the heat of the sun. It also had to be consumed that same day. None would last until the next morning, except on the day before the Sabbath, when a double portion of manna could be gathered. Then, the manna would keep to the seventh day, the Sabbath. This provision was made because there would be no manna on the ground on the Sabbath, to preserve it as a day of rest for Israel.

The miracle of the manna continued until Israel entered the promised land of Canaan forty years later. Thus, the people were fed throughout their wilderness journey. Jesus describes himself as the bread of life, which came down from heaven, thus identifying himself with the manna. In order to live we have to eat of Jesus’ flesh, which he gave for the life of the world. (John 6:51) This pictures appropriating his atoning merit by faith.

Besides the manna, Israel also clamored for meat. Every evening for a whole month, God used a strong wind from the sea to blow quail to the camp of Israel. The people didn’t appreciate God’s care and blessings and overindulged in eating the quail to God’s displeasure. We, too, can take for granted God’s provision for our feeding during this Gospel Age and grumble for more and different food. Another lesson is not to look back longingly to what we left in Egypt. Instead, we are to rejoice in and appreciate the prospect of entering the heavenly Canaan at the end of our wilderness journey.