Intro: For our Advent season this year, I have chosen to enjoy the Jesse Tree by sharing a 24-day practice to prepare us for the celebration of Christ’s birth; the event we celebrate and honor at Christmas. From the root of Jesse’s stump, we will discover or rediscover the people in the family Tree of Jesus Messiah who were instrumental in bringing the presence of God near to us in order to revive the Spirit-led family of faith. With each day’s reading, we will add a new symbol—an ornament—to our family tree.
Today, is day ten of our journey and our symbol is Manna.
When God wants me to embrace change, He typically leads me in small obedient steps. Of course, that is not always possible, because life is fragile and we are not in control. However, small steps are a good start when making positive changes to our lives. Never despise small faith-led beginnings, because God always builds on them.
In our Old Testament passage today, God is helping the Israelites learn how to trust him by taking small steps of obedience. They are in a barren land; the environment is hostile and they are surrounded by sand and stone. Therefore, the people complain and express a desire to return to slavery in Egypt which is obviously not what they really want. They simply want their lives to be easier. Don’t we all?
So, God promises to meet their needs in this desolate place each day. They cannot gather and store up tomorrow’s provision of manna. They must gather what they will actually consume in one day. God lays out detailed instructions for each day to test their obedience in trusting His supply. This calls for faith which will help to shape them in the Lord’s character.
The Lord God sends manna from heaven. The word manna means, “What is it?” In its present state, the manna does not look like food or provision, but the people will understand if they will simply follow the instructions and trust God. This unusual manna was an unexpected Gift from God. They did not have to work to harvest it; rather, it fell down from heaven fresh each day. And, when they ate it, they were satisfied.
In our New Testament passage from the gospel of John, Jesus reminds his disciples, the religious leaders, and the crowds that it was the Father, not Moses, who sent the manna to feed Israel. Generations later, the same Father sends the Son as the Bread/Manna from Heaven who will bring eternal life. Jesus wants to meet our spiritual needs each day with grace, but we must eat the Word to sustain our spiritual souls. It’s a daily walk of small steps that grows our faith!
Exodus 16:4, 14-15, 31 NLT
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.
14 When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. 15 The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat.
31 The Israelites called the food manna. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers.
John 6:31-35, 48-51 NLT
31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.