MANNA (The Fourth Cup & Lamb of God)
During the night, Pharaoh speaks to Moses and says take the Israelites and leave Egypt. Go at once. Go and worship the Lord as you said. Leave. he says. So they do. The Bible says, “About six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the children” left Egypt. (Exodus 12:37) Bible scholars estimate that about a million men, women, and children just walked out of Egypt. If you can, imagine a city the size of Detroit or San Antonio. Imagine if this great big mass of people went out onto the interstate and started walking out of the city. What a sight that would be! I just want to emphasize the greatness of this miracle: a million people just walked out into the desert.
Miraculously, water was given for them to drink. But they were hungry and needed some food. They go to Moses and ask him if he had brought them to the desert to die. Moses said no and he speaks to the Lord and says that they need food. Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.” (Exodus 16:4) We know all these stories. We learned them as a child, but today I want you to receive this with new eyes. "I will now rain down bread from heaven for you”. Circle that sentence. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion. (Exodus 16:5) Circle, “daily portion.” “Give us this day our daily bread.” Does that sound a little familiar? It should. The Lord says, “thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.” (Exodus 16:4) They are to gather only their daily portion, meaning you couldn’t get a two-day portion. So the bread falls. You go out and you couldn’t gather bread for the next two or three days. If you did, it turns wormy and rotten. You only gather what you need for that day. The Israelites depended on God each day to feed them. And instructions were given to them for the Sabbath. On the day before the Sabbath, you could gather a double portion of manna because it wouldn’t fall on the Sabbath and you would need to collect a double portion. But on the Sabbath day it would not turn wormy and rotten. He gave them these instructions and said let no one keep it over until tomorrow morning. Just like He said about the lamb in Egypt, when they finished eating it, they didn’t waste it. They either burned it up or they ate it. Nothing was wasted. “The Israelites called this food manna. It was like coriander seed, but white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey.” (Exodus 16:31) I did a little research and studied quite a bit of information from Dr. Scott Hahn. I Googled him. He’s a Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University, and he is one of the most knowledgeable Catholic theologians of our lifetime. As a convert to the Catholic faith, he has a wealth of information that I was using with my studies. He explained that in the Hebrew language, the word “manna” literally means, “What is it?” Well, they didn’t know; it fell from the sky. It went bad some days and on some days it wouldn’t go bad. God fed them bread from Heaven and they called it “manna” - ”What is it?” In the Greek language, the word “manna” means “God’s body.”
The Israelites ate this bread for forty years until they came to settle in the land of Canaan, which the Lord had promised them. This is a huge miracle. God fed a million people bread from Heaven for forty years. For forty years these people ate the bread that God fed them. I was wondering, what if we were to take a person and see how long they could live on bread. If we just sat them down in a corner and started feeding them bread and tied them up so they couldn’t get away. I wanted to know how long a person could survive on just bread. So I did what all good scholars do, I Googled it. And believe it or not, I found a website -I hope they never tested this on a real person - I found a website that said that a person could live only six to eight months if you just ate bread. Bread does not contain the vitamins or minerals or amino acids or proteins that we need in our diet to survive. After six to eight months your organs would shut down and if you weren’t dead, you’d wish you were. I’ve read the book of Exodus, and nowhere in the book did it state that Israelites suffered from malnutrition. So apparently the manna was life sustaining; it was a mystery. They complained a lot about the manna and eating this much bread so God sent quail into the camp. It was kind of a punishment. They even had quail feathers coming out of their noses. The quail would fly in the camp near sundown and this was done as a way to feed them flesh. They did eat some quail, but the focus was on the manna. They lived on this manna for forty years and a million people ate it as it fell from Heaven every day. Do you think God had a poor menu selection? Do you think that maybe He doesn’t really know our bodies? Do you think maybe God didn’t care about us enough so He just feeds a million people bread? Or do you think it’s on purpose? Yeah, it’s on purpose! It’s a prefiguration of Christ! It is a symbol of the Eucharist that we will receive.
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