The Food of Angels — Exodus Chapter 16
Updated: Dec 31, 2022
This blog post will cover the devotionals #68-73 for Exodus Chapter 16.
**Pictures will be added at a later date.
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 Exodus 16:1-3,6-8 (Part 1)
Just after they’d left Elim, where God had again provided for them, they began to complain again—this time, concerning food. Verse 3 is a well-known phrase from the ungrateful children of Israel, who said to them, “How we wish that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; because you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” This principle is discussed in Lamentations 4:9, where it says that, “Those who are killed with the sword are better than those who are killed with hunger: because they pine away, thrust through for want of the fruits of the field.” In other words, they'd rather die at the hand of their oppressors than to suffer hunger and risk death by starvation. Moses and Aaron made it clear that Israel wasn’t complaining against them, but against God Himself. After they’d spoken to God, He showed that He would once again prove that He had saved them from Egypt, not that He had kidnapped them or doomed them to die. They’d see the ‘glory of the Lord’. This means He was going to reveal something to them about His character. 1 Samuel 8:7-9 shows us (once again) how God’s wrath functions—and specifically about His ultimate will and His permissive will. “And the Lord said unto Samuel, ‘Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from reigning over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even unto this day, by which they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also unto you. Now therefore, hearken unto their voice: nevertheless, protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that will reign over them.’” What is this showing us? God’s ultimate (or perfect) will was for Himself to be their king. However, they forsook and rejected Him. Then they wanted a man to rule over them as king. God wouldn’t force Himself to be their Head and gave them what they wanted. This was His permissive will. In other words, it wasn’t what He wanted for them, but He allowed it and tried to work with them in that scenario. Yet, just like always (especially like with the tree of knowledge), God warned them of the natural consequences. How would the king deal with them? They’d be oppressed and taken advantage of. So, looking back at Israel complaining for bread and fleshpots in the desert, God’s permissive will was to give them what they wanted. What was His ultimate will concerning their diet / appetite? During their slavery, they were forced to survive on plain, simple food. However, their appetite was intensified by their heavy labor and their lack—thus, they found their simple food to be pleasant. Yet, the mixed multitude (the Egyptians in their ranks) were used to a fancy diet. They were the initiators of the complaints. So, Israel’s tastes were perverted in Egypt, but God wanted to return their appetite to a point where they could be satisfied by simple fruits, like what Adam and Eve enjoyed in Eden. In devotional #69, we’ll see if they submitted to God’s refining process or not.
 Exodus 16:1-3,6-8 (Part 2)
They needed to be healthy and pure to appreciate the fruits and grains present in their coming ‘Eden’ home of Canaan. Their health and well-being needed to be perfect when they got to their promised land, so they could be an example for the neighboring heathen lands. They’d see how wonderful God’s provision was for His people during their wilderness journey, and they’d glorify God. This could only be done if those who acknowledged Him as God were in perfect health. This surrender of appetite would’ve prevented all disease from reaching Israel, just as we saw God promise them, in devotional #66, at Marah, just past the Red Sea. Exodus 15:26 said, “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God…I will put none of these diseases on you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: because I am the Lord that heals you.” Just as we learned that God wouldn’t allow them to be affected (He didn’t actually give them disease)—we can see God’s character here, and the point He was trying to reveal. Egypt got its diseases through the poor diet they ate, and God wanted them to avoid disease, so He wanted them to avoid the diet that caused disease. Thus, we can see that God’s diet restrictions are actually preventative medicine, rather than arbitrary rules. The clean, simple diet God intends for His children is for the sake of maintaining a strong physical and mental power and clarity. The heavy, unhealthy foods of the perverted diets in the world affects the judgment and diminishes the understanding and discernment of God’s people. They’re too weak to resist temptation and maintain their morals. This is the point of fasting, as seen discussed in the Bible. It’s not an act done to appease or convince God, but rather, to clear the mind to hear His voice on the matter being prayed over. Jeremiah 23:28 says, “…'Let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?' says the Lord.” The chaff is cheap and common, but tastes stale compared to the actual wheat. It’s useless except for feeding cattle. The mundane things of the world are the chaff to those hungry for the spiritual wheat / manna. Likewise, the craving of meat in place of God’s provision was a sad settlement for a lower standard. In His permissive will, He was going to give them flesh (along with the bread, both of which they complained for when they said, ‘We sat by the flesh pots and ate bread to the full.’). However, the meat would only be provided for one day. The next time they’d complain for meat, God would give it to them for a whole month, and a great deal of people would be negatively affected by it (read about that in Numbers 11).
 Exodus 16:4,5,9-21,31,35,36
God was going to rain bread down for them from Heaven. He would do all on His part to provide, and all they had to do was pick it up (receive it). Yet, they had to do their part in gathering it, or it wouldn't sustain them. This is like Salvation. We don’t have to ‘do’ anything to be saved—Christ did that by His death. Yet, it’ll mean nothing to us if we don’t receive it from Him. Once again, the brothers told the people of God’s Word. At evening, the camp was covered in quail (clean flesh meat for them to eat). In the morning, the camp was covered in dew. Once the dew was gone, they saw something laying all over the ground. It was small and round, and as white as coriander seed. The flavor was like wafers and honey. They called it ‘manna’ (which translates to the phrase, ‘What is it?’) because they didn’t know what it was. God made it clear what the conditions were for this provision of manna. God wanted to see if they’d follow His commandments. They had to gather a certain amount each day. On the sixth day, they should gather twice their normal, daily quantity. What was the quantity of manna they were to gather, and why? Each man was to gather an ‘omer’ or a ‘heap’ or ‘sheaf’ (which is a tenth of an ephah). An ephah was an Egyptian dry measurement for grain, nearly equivalent to a bushel (roughly thirty-seven dry quarts). Thus, each man was to gather just under four quarts (sixteen cups) for each person in their tent. Thus, some people gathered more than others. When they measured with an omer, as God instructed, they found that there was never excess or lack—it was always exactly what they needed to be filled. Thus, just as they’d said they ‘ate bread to the full’ in Egypt, they did here as well. The bread was sweet and nourishing to their bodies and souls when they maintained contentment with the portion God provided. When they became discontent with it, it bred worms. Notice the blessing of contentment and the curse of discontentment. Thus, another condition that was given concerning the food God provided was that none of it should be left until the morning. Those that didn’t follow this found that the manna got wormy and odorous. Moses was upset that they hadn’t obeyed. This also reminds me of the Passover lamb, which they were instructed should not be left until morning. Just as the day after the Passover was to be seen new and free from the remnants of sin, bondage, etc. we can see a similar principle. God sent them to glean food daily—not just once or twice a week. The importance of gathering spiritual bread (God’s Word) on a daily basis is emphasized here. It isn’t enough to worship, pray, and/or study just occasionally, but it needs to be a consistent, ongoing part of our routine. We need to connect with God daily. I believe that God was also trying to teach them moderation and consistency, but more importantly, not to store up excess from a motive of fear. He would provide for their needs every single day—they didn’t need to worry about whether they might have food the next day or not. Matthew 6:34 tells us, “Do not worry about tomorrow, therefore, because tomorrow will worry about the things of itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Verse 25 says more. “Therefore, I say unto you, do not worry about your life—what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor for your body—what you will wear. Is not the life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Thus, they gathered their food every morning, and once the sun got hot, that which was left on the ground melted away. They ate manna this way for forty years until they got to the edge of the promised land. In fact, Joshua 5:12 tells us that “The manna ceased the morning after they had eaten of the old corn of the land…” It’s amazing to see how God provided for them and the perfect timing of it all.
 Exodus 16:22-30,36
As stated in the conditions, on the sixth day, they were supposed to gather twice as much bread—two omers (roughly seven and a half quarts) of manna. God clarified why. The sixth day, Friday, is the preparation day for the Sabbath (Saturday, the seventh day). God was teaching them to prepare for their rest day. They were to bake and boil all the food they’d need for the next day ahead of time, so that no cooking would be done on Sabbath. They got creative with it too. Numbers 11:7, 8 tells us that they gathered it, and either ground it in mills or beat it in mortars, and then they baked it and made cakes with it—and it tasted like fresh oil. Likewise, no manna would be found on the ground on the Sabbath for gathering. This time, they were instructed to store food until the next day—which was different from normal routine. When they woke up on Sabbath, the food wasn’t stinky or full of worms like normal leftovers were. This was the only time they were to eat food gathered / prepared the day before. Thus, God didn’t stop providing for their needs, even though they chose to keep His Sabbath each week. Throughout history, and especially today, people have gotten so concerned about their livelihood that they ‘justify’ breaking the Sabbath to earn money, but God was trying to make it clear, early on, that this wouldn’t be necessary, because He would take care of them. Those that went out to gather manna on the Sabbath anyway found none—and God asked them, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See…the Lord has given you the Sabbath, therefore He gives you the bread of two days on the sixth day; every man should stay in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” Thus, the people rested on the Sabbath. Recall (from devotionals #27 and #28) that we’d learned that the people hadn’t been allowed to keep the Sabbath during their slavery to Egypt. They were forced to labor so much that, not only could they not rest, but they were too distracted to worship. Thus, they’d forgotten the Sabbath over the years, and God was having to re-educate Israel on the importance of keeping the Sabbath. Some claim that the Sabbath commandment wasn’t given until Mount Sinai, when Moses received the ten commandments, but that’s clearly not the case, because we see clear instructions concerning the Sabbath here—and we even saw, in verse 28, that when they broke the Sabbath, they were ‘refusing to keep His commandments and laws’. Thus, the forty-year-long, three-part miracle of the manna was intended to instill the importance and sacredness of the Sabbath to them. They wouldn’t forget that when they finally got to the promised land. It was a three-fold miracle because, the manna fell six out of seven days a week; it fell double on the sixth day, and none on the seventh day; and it became wormy and stinky overnight everyday but the Sabbath.
 Exodus 16:32-36 (Part 1)
One more important point concerning the manna was the omer that was to be kept as a reminder for future generations of how God fed His people in the wilderness after taking them from their Egyptian ‘comforts’. They were instructed to take a pot, put an omer of manna in it, and store it for God. It would be kept in the ark of the testimony, along with a couple of other important things—which we’ll see in our Exodus 25 devotionals. You can read more about that in Hebrews 9:4. They put the manna in a golden pot (which seems fitting, considering that the other sanctuary items would also be gold). Psalm 78:24-29 tells us that God “had rained manna down upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of Heaven. Man ate angels’ food: He sent them meat to the full. He caused an east wind to blow in the sky: and by His power He brought in the south wind. He also rained flesh upon them as dust, and feathered fowl like the sand of the sea: and He let it fall in the middle of their camp, around their dwellings. So they ate, and were well filled: because He gave them their own desire.” The angels’ food was food brought to them by angels themselves. Being sustained by the corn of Heaven was a lesson to know that God provided for them as though they were surrounded by actual fields of corn. Recall, from devotional #17, how we learned that the I AM is / was Christ Himself? Christ is the one that led them through the desert and provided them the manna. I can’t help but think about how similar the Israelites were to some of the angels—specifically Satan. They were given all they needed to be happy and to love God—but it wasn’t enough—they wanted more—and they believed that God was depriving them of something they deserved.
 Exodus 16:32-36 (Part 2)
In John 6:31-58, Jesus had a conversation with the Jews. They discussed their ancestors having eaten manna in the desert—provided to them from Heaven. Jesus showed the Jews how that was an example of the true, life-giving bread from Heaven (just as we saw with the Passover, etc.). Moses wasn’t given the true bread from Heaven (which they ate, but still eventually died)—because Christ was the true Heavenly bread, who came down to give eternal life to the world. He said, “I am the bread of life: he that comes to Me will never hunger; and he that believes in Me will never thirst.” See how He used terminology that was relatable to their wilderness experience? Yet, He told them that, despite that truth, they saw Him but still didn’t believe—referring not to their physical sight, but to the conviction of their hearts’ understanding, and yet still doubting and/or rejecting. This also parallels Israel’s experience in the desert—where they repeatedly saw God’s goodness, and still complained and feared. Notice that Jesus used the terminology of ‘flesh’ to describe how they should partake in Him in verses 51-54. “I am the living bread…the bread that I will give is My flesh…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood has eternal life…” Obviously, God didn’t intend for man to eat Christ’s actual body—He used that as a symbol. Israel wanted flesh and bread, and Jesus used those terms to describe what they should’ve desired spiritually. Revelation 2:17 tells us that, “I will allow him that overcomes to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone…with a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it.” God wanted His people to have victory over sin (which started with appetite), and then they’d be given understanding of the mysteries of God, and their characters would be changed. Another bread-related saying that they could connect with was of the rabbis. They equated eating bread (spiritually) with studying the law and practicing good acts. They often said that all of Israel would be fed when the Messiah came. Thus, when Christ performed the miracle of the loaves in the feeding of the multitudes, He was able to provide understanding to His hearers concerning the object lesson of the bread / manna. He tried to give the same lesson to those in the synagogue, who would’ve understood His meaning (“I am the bread of life.”) if they’d actually understood the Scriptures. It had been only one day since the feeding of the hungry crowd. They were physically strengthened and refreshed from it (their physical lives were sustained), and that was an example of what Christ wanted to provide them spiritually—to the point of everlasting life (their moral powers and heart would be strengthened and satisfied). The true manna was the revitalizing, life-giving power of the Spirit of God speaking the Word. Deuteronomy 8:3 says that “He humbled you, and let you hunger, and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did you fathers know; so He might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”