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Manna in the Wilderness

Presiders Desk

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither
you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on
every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:3)

Manna literally means “What is it?” and was the name given by the Israelites when they
first saw this breadlike food. It was white like coriander seed, tasted like wafers made with honey
and mysteriously appeared on the ground each morning. It was an appropriate name because it
meant so much more than food for the body. Manna was also a symbol for the soul. They called it
manna but the Lord had already called it bread from heaven.
Bread from Heaven

The first message to be found in manna was that there was more to life than being well fed
and physically satisfied. It didn’t take long for the Israelites to compare their existence in the wilderness
to their fond but distorted remembrance of life back in Egypt. “If only we had died by the
LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you
have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16:3).
Material gratification is a strong temptation that threatens long term spiritual growth. If
we allow it, foster it or give in to it, there can be a huge gap between daily life and eternal significance.
It is hard for some people to grasp the relationship between living and meaning. Onedimensional
existence misses the meaning of life. The great truths of God and salvation are ignored.
Reducing life to appearances and appetites allows no vision for anything other than that
which is literal, physical and material. Our dog, Maggie, lives this kind of one-dimensional life.
She’s fed twice a day, morning and evening. Science Diet dog food, a little exercise and affection
make for a happy dog. We humans are in danger of living a dog’s life when we say to ourselves,
“You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry”
(Luke 12:19).

Satisfying our physical appetites at the expense of our soul is a major issue in the Bible. It
is fine to care about our physical well-being, but we must care first and foremost about our relationship
with the Lord. We need to eat and exercise, but there is more to living than following
our physical and material appetites.

[Excerpted from The Discipline of Surrender by Douglas D. Webster]