He fed them well with the bread of heaven.
Psalm 105:40 NIV
Continuing our Lenten bread adventure, let us take in the bread of heaven. This puzzling provision was deposited with the dew on the Sinai desert floor every day during the 40 years of wandering by the people of Israel.
The name given to the mysterious, wafer-like meal was “manna.” It transforms the question, “What is it?” to a title handed down through the ages for any sudden or unexpected aid to success, satisfying yet somewhat other-worldly in its delivery. Manna was the color of coriander seed and the taste and translucency of honey, also explained with olive oil overtones.
The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil.
Numbers 11:7-8 NIV
Naturally we’ll have to wait for heaven to experience and enjoy for ourselves; yet in the meantime, coriander has been added to the Plant Guide, offering growing tips and garden to table ideas to bring this ancient occurrence to our gardens to taste and see.
Sifting Like Wheat
Another man, who likely came after the Israelite exodus, had a wandering of another sort. His journey was not through barren, stripped down landscape but through a physical and emotional desertion: his family taken from him, his fortune dried up, his health reduced to a waste of his former vitality. I am speaking of Job, of course, who wandered nearly 40 chapters in the Book of Job. His story is astutely summarized by words Jesus spoke centuries later about the disciples:
Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.
Luke 22:31 NIV
Job moved through this metaphorical desert bewildered and perplexed, wrestling intellectually with what was happening, struggling spiritually with God’s ways, yet humbly standing firm in his trust in God. Since we will not likely traverse the Sinai in Israelite manner, Job stands sentinel to the bleak trips we will inevitably travel—through cancer wards, financial collapses, loss of family, and other testings.
Additionally, this is the wandering we enter into in the 40 days of Lent, removing comforts from our lives, struggling without our usual ways of coping, sifting out things that distract us from God. For deep within the humility of his suffering, Job was touched by a beautiful truth:
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
Job 23:12 NIV
What a precious, hard-won embrace of the manna teaching.
Bread of Heaven
Jesus revealed his identity as the bread of heaven, our nourisher, the one who sustains us. We have the true bread from heaven after all, in our Lord’s gift of life, and he has fed us well (Psalm 105:40)! May we pass through our Lenten journey nourished by the bread of heaven; even as we are humbled, his gift of life rises up in us.
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 6:51 NIV
Find more information about coriander at http://www.gardenindelight.com/plant-guide/coriander/
For olive oil, see http://www.gardenindelight.com/plant-guide/olive-tree/
© 2015 Shelley S. Cramm A small loaf of bread is coated with toasted, ground coriander seed, honey and olive oil (made with yeast, not wafer-like!)