Bread vs. Manna

“”And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3, NASB.

I was looking through some old notes on these verses and came across these notes:

  • their humility and hunger were by God’s design, at God’s hand.
  • humility and hunger lead to a dependence upon God’s provision.
  • manna which you did not know: unexpected, unexplainable, unprecedented provision.
  • manna is not the product of a man’s labor, as farming or cooking, but is the miraculous provision of God Himself.
  • do I see manna in my own experience? hmmmmm……. maybe all of my business, why should someone pay me to do what I do? My work is like picking up manna.
  • “make you understand”
    • God knows what He wants us to learn.
    • God knows how to make us understand it
    • the lessons in forced learning involve hard places and miraculous provision.
  • the principle: man lives by provision
    • we apparently innately misunderstand, thinking that the provision is bread
    • God wants us to know the provision is actually the verbiage which proceeds out of His mouth
    • this is to be understood as being His word, as in Mt 4:4
  • now, what is the difference between bread and manna?
    • for bread, we toil to produce it: we plant the seed, we harvest it, we process it, we grind the wheat, we knead the flour with the proper ingredients, we bake it.
    • for manna, you just go out and pick it up, and eat it.
    • the difference is, one requires human effort, and the other requires the miraculous work of God.
  • what does manna have to do with that which proceeds out of the mouth of God?
    –God declared the manna before it ever first happened Ex 16:12, and remained faithful to it for the whole period of 40 years of wandering, De 8:3.

Several things stick out in my mind at this time. First, message, intellectual content, intelligence, understanding, wisdom, call it what you want, really matters to God. He wants primarily to speak to us. Words of truth, His words, are more important to us than bread, than our daily provision of food. This says to me that listening and contemplation are of critical importance. We live in a time of astounding distraction. If someone is starving, it is of course extremely important that we participate in feeding them. However, it is apparent that it is even more important that we all receive the words of God. It confirms the mission statement for this ministry even more.

Perhaps more significant is the observation about the difference between bread and manna. It is a perfect picture of the difference between virtue under the law and virtue under grace. Under the law, we labor for every phase of the creation of virtue; we prepare the ground, sow the wheat, tend the wheat, worry over the conditions and seasons, harvest the wheat, process it, create flour, knead it and form it and bake it. It is a lot of work! Manna just appears; you gather it and eat it. Virtue under grace is intended to be like that – it is simply there. What fool wouldn’t pick it? It is provision in the midst of this wilderness of dos and don’ts, where the voice of the serpent cries out every moment extolling the wonders of the forbidden. You either take it when it is there or go hungry, and you can’t store it up, it is new every morning.

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