Do you detest the manna?

I’ve been spending time in the Bible reading the book of John. In John 3 is the familiar story of Nicodemus visiting Jesus in the middle of the night.

Jesus explains to Nicodemus how we must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. In a beautiful depiction, Jesus describes how the Holy Spirit works to renew the human heart.

During the discussion, Jesus interjects a reference to the Old Testament account of Moses and the bronze snake.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

John 3:14-15

I found it interesting that Jesus included this particular Old Testament story at that exact moment. With my interest piqued, I decided to dig deeper.

We find the story of the bronze snake in Numbers 21:4-9. Notice this happens after God has rescued the Israelites from the Canaanite king of Arad. Once again the people are…you guessed it…impatient!

They spoke out against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’

Numbers 21:5

Think about it. The Israelites have pleaded with God to save them, and when He does they gripe and complain.

Not only that, they proclaim to detest the manna, the very sustenance God provided for them.

This is a bitter attack against the providence of God. Rejecting the manna was equivalent to rejecting God’s grace. Serious stuff!

The Lord had to address the Israelites’ sin, and He did so with venomous snakes.

God allowed venomous snakes to roam among the people. Many of the Israelites were bitten and died. Again the people were brought to repentance and begged for deliverance.

God instructs Moses to make a bronze snake and mount it to a pole. Anyone who was bitten was told to look at the bronze snake and they would be saved.

This may sound like a simple story, but it’s not. It is powerful!

Consider that the Israelites had to look to the bronze snake to be delivered from death, and Jesus uses that as an example for Nicodemus to understand eternal salvation.

Salvation is not something we gain, earn or work for. We must look to Jesus to be saved!

How often do we make our faith in Jesus about us and not about Jesus?

Are we disguising our faith in ourselves as faith in Jesus?

How often do we silently scream…

‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’

You might feel like you’re in the desert and God has left you to die, but He hasn’t.

Look back at what He has delivered you from.

Then be honest.

Do you detest the manna?

One thought on “Do you detest the manna?

  1. Thank you for sharing your insight. I had not thought about this before but that passage is an excellent one to show others who believe that we must be sorry for or actually turn from our sin in order to believe and be saved. Certainly, they were not told to do any such thing. They were to “look.” Now, obviously, in order to look, they needed to believe, or why else would they look? “Believing in Jesus” is how we get saved. That is repentance (a change of mind), not being sorry for or turning from our sin. The Gospel of John never once uses any form of the word for repent. Thank you again.


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