To get this week started on a Gospel note, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the foreshadowing of the Gospel of Jesus found in Exodus. Today, we’ll look at Jesus’s claims of being the bread and water of life. Let’s begin with a look at the account in Exodus.
Exodus 16:1-5 (ESV) | Bread from Heaven
1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”
Exodus 16:31-34 (ESV)31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept.
Now, if you remember back in our discussion of the Testimony, you know that here it references the Ark of the Testimony, later called the Ark of the Covenant. Inside of the Ark are the stone tablets of the Testimony, the 10 Commandments. If you read the full chapter, you will see that God also sent quail into the camp at night, so that the children of Israel can also have meat. We are skipping this portion for this study because Jesus did not refer back to the quail, but He did teach regarding the manna from heaven.
John 6:25-40 (ESV)25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Amen. Notice that the Jews with whom Jesus spoke knew the Law. They knew that the manna from heaven served as a testimony, only they were confused as to whom the manna testified. They believed it proved that Moses was giving them the Law from God. The error is slight, and it is subtle, but Jesus identifies it perfectly when He clarifies “it was not Moses who gave you the bread…” The testimony was not of Moses, it was of God the Father. Like the stone tablets of the Testimony, while the Law did come into their midst in the hands of Moses, it was to point the children of Israel to God the Father, not to Moses. Similarly, the Law and the manna were pointing to Jesus, the Son of Man. Jesus declared Himself to be both the Son of Man (descendant of Adam promised to crush the head of the serpent) AND the Manna Sent from Heaven, sent by God the Father to grant eternal life to everyone who looks on Him and Believes. This is another place where we see the “Fully Man” and “Fully God” identity of Jesus Christ laid out in Scripture by His own teaching. Notice here that Jesus is the bread of life and that whoever comes to Him will not hunger. We see in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” and many times we see the double meaning of this passage as both asking God to meet our daily bodily need for food as well as spiritual nourishment in the Word of God. But we also see Jesus declare that whoever believes in me shall never thirst. Since this statement comes connected to His declaration that He is the manna sent from heaven, it stands to reason that the reference to thirst may also stem from Exodus, and it does. Let’s turn to the very next chapter in Exodus.
Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV) 1 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Here at the start of Chapter 17, we find the children of Israel leaving the wilderness of Sin. While the temptation to allegorize the English name of this wilderness, the Hebrew doesn’t quite point in that direction. The Hebrew word translated Sin here is (Ciyn) is different from the Hebrew word for sin as in something that is sinful (chatta’ath). Ciyn translates into “thorn” or “clay”, but here it is referencing an actual place, an area of wilderness where there is no water, especially not enough for all of the Israelites here.
There is significance in God’s command for Moses to take the staff with which he struck the Nile (as commanded by God) when God turned the River Nile into blood as the first plague of judgement upon Pharaoh. Moses was to strike the rock at Horeb so that Israel would know that it was God who led them out of Egypt. The split in the rock comes after a blow of judgment, and from the split comes a flow of water to quench the thirst of the children of God. This also points ahead to the cross, where Christ would lay down His life and bear the full wrath of God that was due us for our sin, so that in Him we might have eternal life.
John 19:28-37 (ESV) 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
The water flowed after the Rock was pierced. By the blood of Jesus Christ, the debt we could not pay was paid for by Him. All who look upon the Son and believe in Him will never thirst, for in Him they will find Living Water. This is a call of the Gospel that goes out to all people, both Jew and Gentile.
John 7:37-39 (ESV) 37 On the last day of the feast [of booths], the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 4:7-15 (ESV) 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
The call goes out to everyone, Gentile and Jew. At the feast of booths, Jesus is talking to Jews who are observing the Law. The call to come to Jesus all who are thirsty includes believers. We must not get so caught up in observing the Law that we lose sight of the Gospel and become thirsty ourselves.
The Gospel for Today and Tomorrow
The Jews in Jesus’s day looked back to the Law as testimony of Moses, but failed to recognize the fulfillment of the Law in their day, in the very body and ministry of Jesus. Sadly, I fear that many Christians fall in the same trap, only now they do it with the Gospel. They think of the Gospel as something they needed to “get saved” or “be born again” sometime in the past, and then go through life trying to sanctify themselves by works of the Law, forgetting that the Gospel isn’t just something you needed at one time or that took place once in your life, but the Gospel is for our every day. Give us this day our Daily Bread, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is needed every day. We need forgiveness and remission of sins daily, and we have not yet fully grasped the promise of the Gospel, for we each will still die for our earthly bodies are corrupt. The fountains of living water, the eternal life as a promise for all who believe are prizes that lay ahead of us, in the great tomorrow, the Day of our Salvation.
Revelation 7:9-17 (ESV) 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
There’s still more to come for God’s people. Don’t allow the charlatans and the peddlers of false gospels distract you from the Promise of the Kingdom to come. This temporal life is a but a vapor, a breath of time. While we are here, let us be faithful stewards, striving to do the works of God so that His Will might be done in all the earth. What is that work? Well, as Jesus said earlier, that we believe in Jesus Christ who was sent by God, so that whoever looks upon the Son and believes will have eternal life. This is the work of the Gospel, and our charge as stewards of the Gospel.
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
May the Lord bless you and keep you firmly in His Will,
In Christ Jesus,