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What Is It?

And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God. And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.  Exodus 16:10-15

After the Israelites left Egypt, they spent forty years wandering in the desert.  Most of this desert is comprised of the land of the Sinai Peninsula.  The Sinai Peninsula shown in the NASA photograph taken from the Space Shuttle, while in orbit during the STS-40 mission, is a triangle-shaped peninsula lying between the Mediterranean Sea (to the north) and Red Sea (to the south). Its land borders are the Suez Canal to the west and the Israel - Egypt border to the north-east. It is now part of Egypt. The Sinai Peninsula is in Southwest Asia while the rest of Egypt is in North Africa .

The Sinai is almost entirely desert , but is settled along the Sabah coast at Taba (near the Israeli town of Eilat ), where there is a hotel and casino . Moving southwards along the coast, there lie: Nuweiba , Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh . The Sinai is also settled on the north coast near the Gaza Strip at El-Arish .

The eastern boundary of the peninsula is a geological fault zone known as the Great Rift Valley , which extends from the upper Jordan River valley, through the Dead Sea extending southward through the Red Sea into Africa.

The land is harsh.  Daytime temperatures approach 120 ° F regularly.  Temperatures can drop 60 ° - 70 ° F shortly after sundown.  It was this barren, harsh environment that the Israelites found themselves for many years after leaving Egypt.  It was in this venue that God miraculously provided every need for over two million people!

One staple that GOD provided was called manna.  This substance was gathered and sometimes baked in cakes by the people.  The first occurrence of the heavenly bread is seen in the Book of Exodus.

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.  Exodus 16:4

The word manna is derived from the Hebrew words meaning, what is it? Some have speculated that manna was some sort of naturally occurring substance that God miraculously multiplied and delivered to the Israelites, though there is no solid proof for that possibility.  It does seem that if it were something natural to the desert region, very near to where the Israelites had been living for over 400 years, they would not have to ask what it was.

The actual ingredients of manna are unknown, but some facts regarding the food from GOD are described in scripture.  First the appearance is described in the Book of Numbers.

And the manna was as coriander seed, and the color thereof as the color of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. Numbers 11:7-8

Manna was as coriander seed in appearance.  Coriander is the seed of Coriandrum sativum, a plant in the parsley family. In fact the plant is known and used in the United States as Cilantro.  The leaves are used in cooking as well as the seeds.  Coriander is used in Indian curries, gin, American cigarettes, and sausages. The seed is globular and almost round, brown to yellow red, and 1/5 inch in diameter with alternating straight and wavy ridges.

Manna was colored similar to Bdellium.  Bdellium is used in perfumes and is highly revered in some forms of medicine, where it is said to lower cholesterol. It is a gum resin obtained from trees grown wild in the semi-arid states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Karnataka in India. Bdellium has been used as an adulterant of Myrrh, but in reality it has its own unique fragrance. It is rich, has a hint of something like pepper, and has background of something that is pleasant, forceful and fiery.

Scripture tells us that when the dew evaporated every morning the manna remained. Five days a week the people were to gather only what they could use that day.  Any remaining manna would spoil.  On the sixth day of the week the people were to gather enough for that day and the next, the Sabbath.  No manna would appear on the Sabbath.  This manna gathered on the sixth day would not spoil and was readily usable on the Sabbath.  The manna began to appear about a month after leaving Egypt and continued for forty years while the people wandered in the Sinai wilderness.  The manna ceased to appear immediately when the people entered the Promised Land.

God met the need of food in the wilderness. The bread that God supplied was not something processed, a product from a bakery in the wilderness, it came straight from heaven, right to where the people were. The material could be eaten the way it was found or it could also be cooked or baked. God made it clear that He would supply their daily need for food, but they would have to go out and gather their bread every day. Trust was needed to believe that the food would appear on schedule and obedience required in gathering the provisions in the way GOD specified. The phenomenon of manna is a perfect object lesson in what God wants from us, for our maximum and obedience.  Manna was a supernatural gift from God. Daily He rained about 4500 tons of it down for them, for 40 years!

We are instructed by or LORD the same way when He directs us to pray, give us this day our daily bread. Sometimes we might find ourselves in wilderness situations, as were the Israelites many centuries ago, where everything seems to be too hot, dried up, without life or growth and we think we are going in the opposite direction of our dreams. We may feel unloved and even ignored. God appears to be miles away and His promises even farther. He is, however, close for He has promised never to leave of forsake us.  So we do not need to be discouraged because even in the wilderness the Lord keeps His promises and meets our need for bread from heaven.  All we have to do is go out and get it. That applies to all of us! It speaks about "daily bread" and not about the "abundance of things". It's about what we need and not about what we want. And God wants us to trust Him concerning our needs. At times the going out to gather the bread seems to be the main struggle because it requires obedience, action and often effort. We can get it daily from the Supreme Supplier, the Source, the Word of God. Daily means just that, daily!

Interestingly Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and what did Jesus reply to Satan?

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Jesus' message is that it takes more than food to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God's mouth. The Word in an ultimate sense is Jesus Christ, Himself.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  John 6:32-35

I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.  John 6:48-51

From the lips of Jesus we can see the analogy between the manna of the wilderness, the bread from heaven, and Jesus Christ, The Word, as the bread of life? Jesus Christ is a gift from God, freely given, for us. There is a daily need, a daily provision and it is to be gathered and eaten by everybody individually.

" What is it" is what the Israelites called manna.  Those of us that follow the LORD really stand out to the world around us.  There is a difference.  Many times folks ask themselves just "what is it" that makes those followers of the LORD different.  We know the answer.  The answer to the question "What is it?" is simply one word. Jesus!
Be blessed and meditate or meditate and be blessed!!!!.. The choice is yours!!  
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