Day 36: Manna from Heaven

Exodus 15: This song of joy praises the Lord for his victory and Israel’s liberation. For any who may have doubted Moses' word, the miraculous escape in crossing the Red Sea revealed the almighty power of God. (CCC 269, 2649, 2810)

Ch 15:26 In the days of Moses and continuing through the time of Christ, people believed that sickness was connected to personal sin or evil. While it is true that many sinful practices such as alcohol or drug abuse, gluttony, and sexual promiscuity have harmful consequences on the mind and body, it is a mystery why good people sometimes suffer while sinners sometimes seem to prosper. The answer to the mystery of suffering lies in the Cross of Christ and his invitation to share in his redemptive Sacrifice; through pain and contradiction God purifies and frees us from sin so we can reflect more effectively the life of Christ in love and goodness. (CCC 1500-1502)

Ch 16:4-19 The manna given to the Israelites reminded them of God’s providence for their temporal needs and of the spiritual “bread,” the WORD OF GOD, by which they lived. Their trials in the desert were not over, but this daily “bread from heaven” was a sign of God’s faithfulness to the covenant by which he would lead the Israelites to the Promised Land. The manna is a type (TYPOLOGY!!) of the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven” (Jn 6:32). (CCC 1094, 1334)

Ch 16:19-21 In the Lord’s Prayer when we pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” we petition God for the necessities of life in a deep spirit of trust in God’s love. This humble request for daily bread also includes spiritual sustenance in the form of the Holy Eucharist. (CCC 303, 2836-2837)

Ch 16:22-36 Even before specifying this in the Ten Commandments, the Lord had already decreed that the Sabbath be observed as a day of rest. The small amount of manna reserved in a jar would later be stored in the Ark of the Covenant (cf. Ex 25). (CCC 2175-2176, 2184-2185)

Leviticus 11:1-46 Distinctions are made between clean and unclean animals. The reasons for particular classifications are not always clear, but it is important to note that these disciplines affected ritual purity and did not deal directly with sin. (CCC 582)

Psalm 71 The progression of old age can be difficult for many people. As their strength wanes and their infirmities grow, many of the elderly wonder why it has to be this way. Some are even inclined to question God as to why they have to suffer such limitations. The author of this psalm also had to put up with the taunts of his enemies who claimed that his increasing frailty was a sign of God’s abandonment. He wished to be restored to better health not only to quiet his critics but also to serve better and to praise God. Our ultimate restoration will be at the resurrection of the body, when our glorified bodies will be reunited with our souls on the last day. Deeds of salvation: For Jews, this meant the mighty acts of deliverance that God had done for them; in the light of Christ, it has become a reference to the saving acts of Christ through his Death and Resurrection. You will increase...comfort me again: Simeon, who waited and prayed to see the Messiah, sustained by the prophecy that he would not die before his wish was fulfilled, was greatly honored and comforted by his encounter with the newborn Christ. (CCC 1017)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 20: God Provides Manna (Exodus 16)

After the Exodus, the Israelites journey through the desert, and God sustains them with MANNA, which daily appears on the ground. This heavenly bread ceases when they reach the PROMISED LAND. The manna PREFIGURES the EUCHARIST (AGAIN WITH THE TYPOLOGY!!), which is likewise bread for the journey, sustaining us on our way to OUR PROMISED LAND, the Kingdom of God.

  • As Israel is saved through the waters that wash away the Egyptians, Moses’ sister Miriam leads the women in singing and dancing in a joyous celebration of God’s miraculous redemption of Israel. (I like to imagine them singing and dancing to “CELEBRATION” by Kool and the Gang, the Hebrew version of course ;) )

  • Miriam, who watched her brother float down the Nile and into the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter and redemption, now sees Moses saved once again from death through water, this time with his people.

  • Like Noah’s ark in the waters of the flood, this salvation through the waters of the Red Sea prefigures the New Covenant’s salvation through the waters of baptism (Catechism No. 1094) (REMEMBER TYPOLOGY!!).

  • Israel’s freedom from slavery begins their journey home to the land God promised to Abraham’s descendants (Gn 12:1-3).

  • One of the early resting places in the wilderness journey is Elim.

  • Elim is noted for its twelve springs of water, one for each of the TWELVE TRIBES, and its seventy palm trees, which correspond to the SEVENTY DESCENDANTS of Jacob, all of whom were listed at the outset of the Exodus narrative.

  • Moses, fleeing once again from Egypt, meets his father-in-law, Jethro, who advises him on how to govern the people of Israel wisely.

  • Moses’ first encounter with Jethro had led to his extraordinary meeting with God at the burning bush.

  • Now, this second meeting precedes Moses’ return to the mountain of God, where he will hear from God once again (Stay tuned……..)

  • Israel’s song of praise after its deliverance through the Red Sea quickly turns to rebellion when the going gets tough.

  • In Exodus 16 the Israelites come to the wilderness and are hungry.

  • They murmur against Moses and Aaron, saying, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we … ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Ex 16:3).

  • But God did not kill them, did He?

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

  • The people are murmuring and grumbling against the Lord, Moses, and Aaron about being hungry

  • God is the one who is going to give them the food that they long for

  • It’s been a few weeks since God delivered the Israelites from slavery

  • Now, the Israelites think maybe it would have been better to die as slaves

  • The Israelites think maybe it would have been better if they had just died as people who were abandoned by The Lord rather than being led by The Lord through dangerous, uncomfortable places

  • Not only is God feeding His people, but He is TRAINING THEM

  • This is one of the themes throughout Exodus and Numbers

  • God is fighting for the Israelites

  • But God is also trying to teach His people WHO HE IS

  • God is trying to teach His people the degree to which THEY CAN TRUST HIM

  • Manna is Hebrew for “What Is It”

  • What is an Omer? A tenth part of an Ephah (Oh is that all?)

  • The manna will spoil so they can only collect enough for one day

  • If they tried to keep it overnight, it would spoil and have worms in it

  • On the 6th day, they are permitted to gather twice as much Manna so they can keep a SABBATH day of rest and not collect any Manna

  • God has demonstrated that on the 6th day, the Manna CAN BE KEPT OVERNIGHT AND WILL NOT SPOIL as long as they HONOR THE SABBATH AND DO NOT WORK

  • God is training His people TO WALK IN FAITH

  • God is training His people WHO HE IS

  • God is training His people HIS HEART

  • God is training His people HIS LOVE FOR THEM

  • God is training His people HIS FAITHFULNESS TO THEM

  • God is training His people HIS FIDELITY TO THEM

  • God is training His people THAT HE IS NEAR TO THEM

  • We have to learn this too

  • We have to learn HOW TO TRUST THE LORD

  • That is one of the reason God gives us certain commandments

  • Sometimes they are for our own good

  • Sometimes they are to keep us out of harm

  • Sometimes they are to teach us and train us TO BE LIKE GOD

  • God is faithful to us, to Himself, and to His promises

  • God is now inviting us to be faithful to Him, His promises, and our own promises

  • In order to do all that, we need GOD’S GRACE

  • We need to pray with each other and for each other

  • We are now in the wilderness of our own lives and we need each other

Prayer by Fr Mike: "Father in Heaven, we give you praise. We thank you so much for your Word. We thank you for the gift of you revealing your heart to us through Scripture. We ask that you please let your Scripture, let your Word, let your Grace conform our minds to your mind. That we see things the way you see them. Conform our hearts to your heart so that we can love things as you love them. Help us to turn away from what kills us. Help us turn towards you, who give us life. In Jesus name we pray, Amen."