Manna from Heaven - Bible Study

by Tom Bulick and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
Exodus 16:1–36

  • Manna From Heaven | The Scrolls | May 15, 2022

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the sermon "Manna from Heaven."

The Exodus is the theologically seminal event in the Old Testament, linking Abraham, Moses, and David. Allusions to it are found throughout the Old and New Testaments. D. A. Carson calls it “the greatest redemptive event in the Old Testament which subsequent revelation points to again and again and again” (“Exodus: Understanding One of the Bible’s Major Themes,” 

Typologically speaking, the Exodus event is the source of three New Testament metaphors used with reference to Jesus. First, John identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” a clear allusion to the Passover lamb that died, so that those who applied its blood to the top and both sides of their doorframes would be spared the death of their firstborn sons (Ex 12:21-23). Paul makes John’s allusion to Passover explicit, calling Jesus, “our Passover lamb.” Borrowing imagery from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, he says, “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1Co 5:7-8). Paul’s point is that his readers need to become what they are in Christ. One commentator explains: “In one sense they were already free of leaven: their trust in Christ had removed their sins. However in another sense they possessed leaven, since they had tolerated, and were still tolerating, sin in their midst . .  . God had sanctified them in their position, but they were in need of progressive sanctification . . . The mention of the removal of leaven before the Passover led Paul to develop his analogy further. Paul viewed the Passover lamb as a type of Christ . . . Christ, the final Passover Lamb, had already died. Therefore it was all the more important that the believers clean out the remaining leaven immediately” (Thomas L. Constable, “Notes on 1 Corinthians,” 2022 ed., 95-96, 

Second, Jesus identifies himself with the manna that sustained the lives of the Israelites for forty years. “Jesus, referring to the Israelites’ manna (John 6:31, 49, 58), called Himself ‘the true [spiritual] Bread from heaven’ (John 6:32), ‘the Bread of God . . . from heaven’ (John 6:33), ‘the Bread of life’ (John 6:35, 48), and ‘the Living Bread . . . from heaven’ (John 6:51). Everyone who believes in Him, He said, would have eternal life (John 6:33, 51, 58)” (John D. Hannah, “Exodus,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, 135). In the same Johannian discourse, Jesus presses the metaphor, explaining to the Jews, “Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven, Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:49-51). His words shocked the Jews but only because of their obduracy, for in the same way that literal bread must be literally eaten to appropriate its life-giving benefits, so also must the metaphoric bread, namely, Jesus’ flesh, be metaphorically eaten, namely, by believing, to appropriate its spiritually life-giving benefits. 

Third, Paul identifies Jesus as the metaphoric “rock” that quenched the thirst of the Israelites in the wilderness. About them he writes: “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1Co 10:3-4). The apostle is alluding to the fact that the Israelites ate miraculously provided food and miraculously provided water in the wilderness. When they came to Rephidim on their way to Sinai, the people had no water to drink, so they accused Moses, saying, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (Ex 17:3). The Lord responded by commanding Moses to strike the rock at Horeb with his staff, and when he did, water came out for the people to drink. Jesus isn’t literally a rock, any more than he is literally manna, but metaphorically he is both true bread and living water (Jn 4:10-14) that gives eternal life. 

Central Message of the Text

Obedience is the better way to go because the LORD's integrity is unquestionable.

Family Talk

When my kids were growing up, we tried to provide healthier breakfast options eggs, fruit, or even homemade pancakes or waffles. My daughter spent the night with a friend and was surprised to discover the glory of freezer waffles that simply popped in a toaster. Apparently, I was holding out on her. Summer was a breakfast goldmine and “vacation cereal” was anticipated and talked about throughout the year. Isn’t it interesting how we can be so easily distracted by what others have or disappointed by feeling deprived of something? The Israelites looked back fondly of their time in Egypt where all their needs were met. Umm… Something here doesn’t quite add up. How terrible were their perceived conditions for them to look back fondly on a period of slavery? When we focus on our own needs or wants, we quite often miss out on the Lord’s obvious blessing. God rescued the Israelites. Just two months before, He miraculously made a way out of slavery and turned bitter, undrinkable water into a thirst-quenching, soul-satisfying delight. What made the Israelites simmer in discontent, doubting the Lord’s current or future provision? The same thing that makes us doubt His goodness today. My kids had a wonderful breakfast, yet they weren’t content. They were ready to trade the blessing of homemade waffles for a cheap imitation. Are you missing the Lord’s blessing because you focused on your circumstances? Are you trading His blessing for a cheap worldly imitation? Turn your eyes to Him. Revel in His miraculous provision. We’re praying for you!