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A Special Day Merits Special Food!

A Special Day Merits Special Food!

If you listened to Christian music back in the late 1970s or early 1980s, you might remember a song by Keith Green called “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt.” It's a pretty funny song highlighted by Green's trademark piano style.

Along with lyrics about “eating leeks and onions by the Nile” as a way of gently chiding the Israelites who were continuously dissatisfied, Green riffed a bit about manna—the somewhat-mysterious food God gave them on their journey.

"Oh no! Manna again?" he sang, along with mentions of “Ba-manna bread,” “Manna-burgers,” and even “Manna-cotti.” Maybe you had to be there, but it was rather humorous, and Green certainly meant no disrespect. He was about as “sold out” a Christian as you could find in those days, and much of his ministry challenged young people to go out and find people who needed to hear about Jesus.

Manna’s Message

But let’s think about manna for a few minutes, and about what it meant in terms of the Sabbath.

In Exodus 16:4, 5, we read, “Then 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. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.’ ”

A little later on in verse 15, we learn those Israelites had a question about this substance that God had rained down from heaven in the mornings: “So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.’ ”

Those words translated “what is it” in English is the Hebrew compound word pronounced “Man-ah,” or, you guessed it, literally, “what is it?” Thanks to translators, we know it today as manna.

There are a lot of interesting properties about manna, not least being that it could be boiled or baked or prepared in other ways so that the Israelites didn’t lose interest in the food. Also interesting is the injunction to gather “twice as much as they gather daily” on the sixth day of the week to prepare their food before the Sabbath day began.

Think about it: On any other day of the week, those gathering more than God allotted for each person would find that the surplus “bred worms and stank” (Exodus 16:20). But the extra gathered and stored on the sixth day was fit for consumption on the Sabbath.

In fact, those few Israelites who went out on the Sabbath day to gather manna not only were very hungry—they also faced God’s indignation: “The LORD said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day’ ” (verses 28, 29).

The Israelites, by the way, got the hint: “So the people rested on the seventh day,” we read in verse 30. (Remember, this is four chapters before the Ten Commandments were given.)

Manna Today

By now you may be asking, “What does all this manna-stuff have to do with me? We’re not getting special meals from heaven.”

You’re right: While God does give us the ability to earn or receive our daily bread, it generally does not arrive via air delivery from heaven. But the story of manna gives us a few lessons applicable to Sabbath-day meal preparation.

First, we should prepare for the Sabbath on the preceding day. Many Sabbathkeepers call the sixth day of the week “preparation day” for this very reason. The Sabbath is not a day for intensive cooking; rather, it’s a day to enjoy rest from the labors of the previous week.

Second, we should make Sabbath meals a delight. Just as the Israelites prepared foods from the extra manna, we should prepare Sabbath meals that are special. Along with enjoying God’s day of rest, those special foods help impress the importance and delight of the Sabbath day in the minds and hearts of children at home.

Third, we shouldn’t make it a habit to fast on the Sabbath day, but rather we should share our food with others and enjoy both the day of rest and the fellowship that’s possible. Many churches, for example, have potluck suppers on the Sabbath for members, visitors, and guests. It’s a great way to deepen ties with your fellow believers.

No, manna is no longer sent to earth on the Sabbath day, but God still cares about what we eat and how we eat it. Taking a cue from what the Israelites did with manna on the Sabbath, we can enhance not only our meals, but also our experience of the day of rest.

Why not try it this coming Sabbath day?