Summary: Will look at this teaching from Jesus to show how acceptance of the death of Jesus in place of our own is the bread of life that all men ought to crave for, not reject.
I was a Jr. High student from CO. We were visiting Artesia Christian College, near Carlsbad, NM. They told our group that we were going to take a desert hike – that it would be fun. So, we piled into vehicles and drove south to the Chihuahuan Desert. You know, from an air conditioned car, the desert can be beautiful! But we were going on a hike – across it. I’ve never felt closer to an old western movie than I did that day. Never before had I seen buzzards circling over my head, waiting for me to drop. Never before had I experienced this one kind of cactus – it grows only in that desert. It’s commonly called a shindagger. It grows about one foot tall, just high enough to spear you in the ankles when you step near it. We trudged on through this for 3 hours, without water, in the sun, because the snakes hang out in the shade. I was still waiting for the fun to start. Then, out of nowhere, we arrived at Sitting Bull Falls. Here were these natural, cool, clear water pools springing up out of the ground, and they all fed to a 100’ waterfall. Boy was it nice to get out of the desert heat and into that cool water!
The children of Israel were glad to get out of sandy old Egypt. As a people group, they’d been slaves for 430 yrs, and they were ready to be free. Finally, God sent the 10 plagues. They left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and went into, you guessed it, the desert, into the Desert of Shur about 50 miles west of the Gulf of Aqaba, where you and I would learn a new definition to the word heat, because it lingers around 115 degrees.
They were on foot, over 600,000 people, carrying everything they owned. They weren’t trained to live on their own, for desert survival, for military defense. They were at the mercy of their situation, and within 3 days they realized it when they couldn’t find water and God had to provide it for them.
Exodus 16. 45 days into the desert, food was running short, and the people came to Moses and Aaron to complain. "Some backpack trip leaders you turned out to be! At least in Egypt we had bread and meat! Why have you led us out here? To kill us with starvation? Wish we could have just died in Egypt!" Well, Israel had a bad attitude. But, it was true, they needed food, and God heard their need and provided a way they could eat all they needed.
(I. Bread from Heaven)
He told them it was going to "rain bread from heaven" - that’s what God said He would do. The next morning, there was dew on the ground, and as it evaporated, there was a white, flaky stuff. It must have looked like potato spuds. Sure enough, God had “rained bread from heaven.” Everyone looked at it and said in Hebrew, "Man Hu?" (What is it?) and from that day forward they called it "manna".
It probably wasn’t long before some hungry Israelites gave it a try. Sure enough, “what is it” was good. It tasted like crackers and honey; like graham crackers (dip it in goat’s milk?) Sounds good, huh?
Really it probably didn’t matter how good it tasted. These people were hungry and needed food. They gathered it up. The sun came up, and what was left melted. But the next morning, there it was again. God had provided.
Day after day, week after week, there was the manna, without fail. Looking like spud flakes, tasting like graham crackers. God was providing. They were eating their fill. They weren’t going to starve. Get up for breakfast, what’s for breakfast? Manna. Put in a half day of work, come home for lunch. What’s for lunch? Let me guess, Manna. Have some friends over for dinner. They’ll bring something with them. What do they bring? Manna. You get the picture.
Ill – Ask Bill Stewart sometime if he’d like some pimento cheese spread. You see, when he was a student at Midwest Christian College, someone donated several cases of pimento cheese spread to the cafeteria. They used it in everything: macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, you name it, there was pimento cheese spread. After a while of eating it a lot, any food gets old. So, to this day, when you mention pimento cheese spread to Bill, he seems a little uneasy about it!
There’s only so much you can do with manna. Even though it sustained their lives, it was getting old. They would beat it, grind it, boil it, cook it, but it was still manna. In Numbers 11 you read where they finally complained to Moses. "At least when we were in Egypt, we had some variety! We had free fish, and melons, and leeks and onions and garlic. We’re sick of this manna!"