Monuments and Manna

Monuments and Manna Devo Image

“The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: “Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.”’ So Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.’ As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan. (An omer is one-tenth of an ephah.)”—Exodus 16:31–36 (NIV)

The Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, and the Holocaust Memorial are all monuments established to embody a powerful historical truth. Monuments and memorials are constructed to commemorate or honor the past and to serve as a tool of instruction or remembrance for the future.

Just like these modern memorials, God commanded Moses to set aside an omer (roughly two quarts) of manna in order to represent and memorialize a powerful truth: God’s provision and continual power to provide never ceases.

The translation for manna is the question, “What is it?” Why? I know this sounds obvious, but it was because the people didn’t know what it was. “He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known” (Deuteronomy 8:16 NIV). And in the same way that they had no idea what this bread from heaven was, as people of God, we can be painfully out of touch with the reality of our true needs and yet God faithfully provides for us. The Israelites had no idea what manna was, but that didn’t stop God from providing it to them since He knew they needed sustenance in the wilderness.

God provided manna for the people to gather every day (Exodus 16:4), except on the Sabbath. And today’s passage tells us, “The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.” Did you catch that? God provided manna to an entire nation of people (biblical scholars estimate about 2–3 million people) every day they were in the wilderness for forty years!

God commanded Moses to take an omer of manna and keep it for generations to come. This is not the first time God commanded the Israelites to consecrate or set aside an item for remembrance, and it wouldn’t be the last. The omer of manna would later be put into the ark of the covenant, along with the two tablets Moses received from God on Mount Sinai and Aaron’s staff. These consecrated items were a sign to Israel of God’s power, holiness, provision, and favor upon those who love and obey Him.

We may not have manna today, but as the author of Lamentations says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning”­ (Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV). What sign do we have to memorialize this powerful truth? The cross!

The cross is where Jesus took the wrath intended for our sins upon Himself so we may be reconciled to God and declared righteous in His sight. It memorializes the incomparable truth of God’s never-ceasing love toward us through His son Jesus.

Pause: Think of a wilderness (loss, illness, anxiety, depression, bitterness, etc.) in your life, whether it be past or present, and pray God would reveal His daily provision unto you.

Practice: Focus on today and thank God for how He’s providing for you.

Pray: Thank You God for Your daily provision unto me. I don’t deserve it and I cannot earn it, yet You faithfully provide me with all that I need each day. Amen.

About the Author

John Madge