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Manna from Heaven

Ever wonder about the spiritual significance of manna?

And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children 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, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.”
Exodus 16:14-15

After feeding the five thousand, Christ compares himself to the manna of the Old Testament. “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… I am the bread of life.”1

Manna only lasted for one day, two if the next day was the Sabbath. Each person was to have one omer, about 3 pints – no more. If a person gathered manna in excess it became noxious and wormy. As such it pictures the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, wherein the necessary sacrifices were required daily. In both the manna and the Levitical sacrifices we see an imperfect and temporary provision that required constant renewal. However, there was one bowl of manna that lasted more than two days – in fact, much longer. In Exodus 16:33-34, Moses is commanded to store an omer of manna as a testimony. We learn in Hebrews 9:4 that it was kept in the ark of the covenant along with Aaron’s rod that budded and the matching tablets of the ten commandments. The ark itself is a picture of Jesus Christ, its gold covered wood a symbol of his full deity and humanity. In him and only in him is the bread everlasting. Indeed, the body of Christ lay in the tomb more than two days, yet unlike the manna he emerged uncorrupted.

The gathered manna not only spoiled quickly, it also lacked in sustenance. It not only had to be gathered daily, it had to be eaten daily. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.”2 It could not grant lasting life. But the Lord Jesus said of himself, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”3

The people who followed Christ across the Sea of Galilee wanted more miraculously provided bread – manna from heaven. But the Savior had a better bread in mind: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”4


  1. John 6:32, 35 []
  2. John 6:49 []
  3. John 6:51 []
  4. John 6:35 []

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