Manna and money share similarities. The Israelites were to each take “one omer” (Exodus 16:16), which is a tithe: “An omer is one-tenth of an ephah” (Exodus 16:36). Manna is fitting illustration of money in that it did many of the things for Israel that money does for us. Read or listen to part of this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way to learn what manna and money have to do with each other.
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As we come to the end of our wonderful journey, how can we tie together the many concepts we have discussed up this point, such as stewardship, giving, and saving? Paul might have done that for us when he talked about money in 2 Corinthians 8:15: “As it is written, ‘He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.’” This is a quote from Exodus 16:18 about the manna the Israelites collected each morning during their time in the wilderness.
What Is the Relationship Between Manna and Money?
What do manna and money have to do with each other? Quite a bit, actually! The Israelites were to each take “one omer” (Exodus 16:16), which is a tithe: “An omer is one-tenth of an ephah” (Exodus 16:36). The term translated “one-tenth” is the Hebrew word also translated “tithe.” Manna serves as a fascinating and fitting illustration of money in that it did many of the things for Israel that money does for us. And what Israel was and wasn’t supposed to do with manna resembles what we are and aren’t supposed to do with money.
Manna and Money Provide and Test
Exodus 16:4 records that “the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.’” God sent the manna to provide for the Israelites and test them, just like God uses money to provide for us and test us.
Manna and Money Require Avoiding Greediness and Wastefulness
The Israelites needed manna like we need money, but they had to avoid being greedy like we must avoid being greedy. The people accused God of “[bringing them] into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:2). This helps us understand how difficult it was for the people of Israel to take only what they needed. Not surprisingly some didn’t listen and couldn’t eat all of what they collected. Verses 19-20 record what happened:
Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.
They were supposed to avoid wasting the manna, like we’re supposed to avoid wasting money. If they kept too much for themselves, versus leaving it for others, there were problems. Similarly, if we keep too much money for ourselves, versus giving it to others, there are problems for us too. The manna began to decay and stink, and, figuratively speaking, money we shouldn’t have begins to decay and stink.
Learning to Save
Exodus 16:22-24 tells us what would happen when the Israelites handled the manna correctly:
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it.
The manna taught the Israelites to save: They gathered twice as much on the sixth day so they wouldn’t have to gather any on the Sabbath. If they handled the manna the right way, striking the balance between saving and hoarding, they had what they needed and there were no problems (“it did not stink, and there were no worms in it”). Similarly, if we handle money the right way, striking the balance between saving and hoarding, we will have what we need and there won’t be any problems.
We see one important difference between manna and money as we contrast the Old and New Covenants:
- In the wilderness, under the Old Covenant, equality was miraculously enforced. Everyone ended up with the same amount (one omer) regardless of how much they gathered.
- In the church, under the New Covenant, people are cared for not because it is enforced, but because God burdens His people to give (as we discussed in the previous chapters) willingly, sacrificially, and generously.
The True and Greater Bread from Heaven
God told Israel to “gather a certain quota every day,” and Moses said, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:4, 15). Every day God gave them bread, looking forward to when Jesus would teach us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Each day they trusted God to provide, and each day we trust God to provide.
But if we really want to appreciate the manna, we must look beyond the physical to the spiritual. Jesus said, “[The people of Israel] ate the manna in the wilderness, and they are dead…I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:49, 51).
The manna was wonderful, but all it did was give people more years of earthly life. In light of eternity, this is a drop in the bucket. Jesus is the true and greater bread from heaven. He provides eternal life and satisfies better than anything physical, be it food or wealth. David Platt said,
When we truly come to Christ, our thirst is quenched by the fountain of life and our hunger is filled with the bread of heaven. We discover that Jesus is the supreme source of satisfaction, and we want nothing apart from Him. We realize that He is better than all the pleasures, pursuits, and possessions of this world combined. As we trust in Christ, He transforms our tastes in such a way that we begin to love the things of God that we once hated, and we begin to hate the things of this world that we once loved.1