Imagine starving. Imagine that your kitchen has vanished and with it went the pantry and the freezer stocked with delicacies frozen in time to satisfy you at the moment of your desire.
The united nation of the tribes of Jacob/Israel had been set free. They left the whips of their taskmasters and they also left their larders and their gardens. After weeks of walking, their food depleted, their bodies screamed for nourishment. Hunger and panic turned into thoughts of betrayal and indignation. God knew that old Moses, in his own wrinkled body silently was shriveling from hunger. From place to desolate place they sometimes found patches of water. Bitter water turned sweet by the Lord was a lesson lost on people whose roots lay deep in the parched earth, but not on sages of future eras who read and learned of God’s wisdom, of His secrets revealed, of foreshadowing in teaching by analogy to grasp the essence of the thing. Saved by the wood, the Tree of Life.
Hunger is a powerful state of being. When self-imposed by fasting, mountains of obstacles are removed. When forced by circumstances, extended hunger eats away at the delicate balance of the body’s chemistry that regulates every function of muscle and mind. A hungry body pulses with blood searching for nutrients while the stomach radiates sensations like echoes of sound in a tunnel. Tingling fingers and weak muscles render the strongest men frail. The quality of thought travels in descending spirals if not focused upward from the magnetic pull of evil.
Food comes from the earth, not from the sky. Seeds germinating in rich soil yield a bounty of delicacies, nuts, fruit, vegetables, wheat to become bread. Animals eat of the earth and are eaten. Chickens peck at grains and lay eggs and both are eaten. In the deep sea without sun, fish eat plankton and each other to be. Earth feeds.
Yet, the lifeless desert repels life. Miles of sand and parched earth yield only sagebrush and scorpions. Rain rarely visits and even then, only briefly. Miles of lifeless wilderness kept Israel away from enemies as he gradually walked out of the persona of an abused resentful slave.
Hunger kills and hunger teaches. Hunger opens vaults containing treasures. God the Spirit mysteriously knows that.
There are desert places and there are desert days. Days and places of hunger when the earth holds back or we push it away; we look around and see nothing and then look up in search of spiritual nourishment.
Over and over again God wanted to manifest Himself to Israel. He wanted them to understand with every fiber of their being, their reliance on Him. Being invisible in a material world, requires extraordinary means of communication. “You need food, I am as your food. Look to Me when the earth won’t help you.”
Rationed food from heaven taught the Lord’s people to trust Him. Daily bread. Each person was to gather as much as (s)he wanted for that day only.
But don’t distrust and don’t be greedy. Those people found worms in their stash. The man who laid up his treasure in bigger barns died. Daily bread from heaven is all one needs, for as long as one needs it. Why is this so hard to believe?
Manna nourished their bodies and forever after the lessons of Manna nourish the souls of those who seek wisdom.
At the end of the week, God did not allow manna to fall from the skies. He and His angels rested. This is the sacred exception to the daily bread rule. No one gives and no one forages on the holy day of rest. A day of rest for the body and soul was the primary command that was made obvious by the miracle that on the Holy Sabbath two-day-old bread was not full of worms. Once a week for forty years Israel was reminded as never again, of the sanctity of the Sabbath. Rest was the weekly reminder of their freedom from slavery, and a day of thanksgiving.
For forty years God lifted the curse on Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground.”
For forty years there was no plowing, no rocks or thorns, just as in the lost days of Eden.
Now fast forward to when God gave His body to be the bread of eternal life.
So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so we may see it and believe you? What works are you performing? Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness; as it is written He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is My father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.”