The recently executed wrath of the LORD has not caused any lasting fear for Him in the hearts of the people. If there is a general feeling of unease in verses 1-31Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard [it], His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed [some] of the outskirts of the camp.2The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD and the fire died out.3So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them., now a concrete evil is mentioned that arises with the “rabble”. This “rabble” is made up of people who went with the people from Egypt, also called “a mixed multitude (Exo 12:38a38A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock.). They do not belong to those who have a hope for themselves. They do not long for the promised land. They live only for the here and now and not for the future. The history of Christianity has many nominal Christians, people who only bear the name ‘Christian’, meaning that they have no life from God.
With their negative attitude they contaminate the whole people of God. So nominal Christians always get the carnal Christians on their side. People who have joined God’s people just because of the pleasant feelings that this gives, have never been separated from the world. If Christian life does not give them what they expected, they will, in pictures, long back to Egypt. For the sake of convenience, they do not think of the heavy slavery, but of its pleasurable sides. The unpleasant things are pushed away.
In Exodus we only hear the people moaning about the heavy service. After a short stay in the wilderness they have forgotten that and their only thought is of the food of Egypt (verses 5-65We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,6but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”). That food consists of six kinds. They are all without nutritional value. Some are spicy in taste, but cause a bad breath. It is a striking picture of what the world has to offer: magazines, films, music, that are attractive to the flesh, but do not satisfy the heart. Also a consequence of consuming this food is that there is a bad smell around us; our behavior is corrupted by it. On the other hand, there is the food of the land. This consists of seven nutritious and tasty kinds (Deu 8:88a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey;). The use of that food will give us a behavior and radiance in which the Lord Jesus is seen.
“Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ” with which God has blessed us (Eph 1:33Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ,) fade away if we feel neglected in relation to the wealth in which the people of the world sometimes bathe. But the real reason is that we despise the food that God gives, the manna.
The manna is a picture of the Lord Jesus as “the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die” (Jn 6:5050This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.). He is our food. We feed on Him when we read about Him in the Gospels, when we think about the way He went His way on earth, the mind in which He did everything, the words He spoke, the deeds He did and His feelings accompanying all this. This food is the food of eternity. If He is not satisfactory now, how will it be in eternity? In heaven we have nothing and no one else but Him.
The only difference between now and later is that we won’t have the flesh anymore. The Lord Jesus is and remains the same, but the flesh longs for the things of the world. We want the pleasure of the world, but not the judgment. If the world attracts us again, it is because we despise the Lord Jesus as it were, that we think that He does not offer us enough. The heart then no longer knows the power of the words the Savior has spoken: “He who comes to Me will not hunger” (Jn 6:3535Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.).
The description of the manna is done in terms of equation (verse 77Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium.; Exo 16:14,3114When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.31The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.). It is compared with coriander seed and with the bdellium, a precious stone. It gives the characteristics of the Lord Jesus’ life. That is like the coriander seed: white, perfectly pure and perfectly balanced. He who sees Him and has an eye for Him sees in Him “a precious corner[stone]” (1Pet 2:66For [this] is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner[stone], And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”).
The people deal with the manna in a way that God has not commanded (verse 88The people would go about and gather [it] and grind [it] between two millstones or beat [it] in the mortar, and boil [it] in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil.). It is like flavoring the Bible. We recognize this in making Bible translations with the aim of making them marketable. The truths of Scripture are popularly translated or even filmed and then offered to the public. But it is all because people can no longer bear the unmixed truth of the Lord Jesus. They are looking for something that suits them well (2Tim 4:33For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but [wanting] to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,).
There is still the taste of oil, a picture of the Holy Spirit. It is still brought as something that speaks of God. The Holy Spirit sometimes wants to use it to convince people that they are dealing with God. The fact that “its taste was like wafers with honey” (Exo 16:3131The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.) is not mentioned here. The sweetness of the relationship with the Lord Jesus that we enjoy when we read the Word of God (Eze 3:33He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.) is not present in it.
The manna is connected with the dew (verse 99When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.; Exo 16:1414When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.). Dew is a refreshment. Manna refreshes the soul. God provides the food while the people sleep. His care is there day and night. When they rise, they can take what God has laid out. The manna is the daily testimony of God’s daily care.