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  Is it manna or unleavened bread?

Many, many Christians consider the John 6 discourse on the Bread of Life to be the meaning for the bread of the Lordís Supper. I want to point out the difference between the manna which the Bread of Life message is based on, and the unleavened bread which is the basis for the bread of the Lordís Supper. Not only are these two different kinds of bread, but they stand for two different aspects of the Christian experience.

Letís look at some scriptures that link the Bread of Life message of the New Testament to the manna.

31Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat."'
32Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."   John 6:31-33

49Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."  John 6:49-51

58This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."  John 6:58

The unleavened bread is a ceremonial bread used to remember a historical event. It is used and eaten to remember the Hebrewís deliverance out of Egypt.

3You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. Deuteronomy 16:3

3 And Moses said to the people: "Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.  Exodus 12:3

The unleavened bread was eaten at specified times to remember that one point in time that God delivered His people out of Egypt. Of course, the unleavened bread for the Christians is eaten to remember how Jesusí body was broken on the cross to deliver us from our sinful selves; i.e.. we were crucified with Christ by grace.

The manna, on the other hand, was given on a daily basis to sustain the Hebrews as they followed the Lord through the wilderness on their journey towards the promised land. The manna nourished and sustained them on their journey. For the Christians, manna stands for how the Lord speaks to their hearts with vital words (scriptures or scriptural words) that really minister to their particular needs or circumstances. These words sustain them on their journey with Him.

3So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.  Deuteronomy 8:3

The manna is all about living in the kingdom, while the unleavened bread is all about dying to or forsaking an old life style.

Just imagine what these two types of bread meant to the Hebrews and what would have been their response if the two were mixed up. Imagine them waking one morning to find unleavened bread scattered on the desert floor instead of manna. Or, imagine hundreds of years later when they were observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread; what would they have said when served manna cakes instead of unleavened bread? Actually, it would have been impossible for the women to make manna cakes at that late date since the manna ceased appearing when the Hebrews entered the Promised Land.

Nevertheless, millions of Bible believing Christians mix up the meaning of the manna and of the unleavened bread. Basically, they take the meaning of the manna and insert it as the meaning of the unleavened bread of the Lordís Supper.

How are these two kinds of bread related to each other? As stated previously, the Hebrews ate the unleavened bread periodically to remember their deliverance out of Egypt. The Hebrews ate the manna daily to sustain them on their journey once they were out of Egypt.

Similarly, Christians should eat the unleavened bread of the Lordís Supper to remember their deliverance out of sin that was accomplished through His death.

Now, imagine someone coming out of some sin, say, lying. Lying was a part of this personís lifestyle. It was how they survived and even met some of their needs. We might call lying an example of an "Egyptian" survival skill. (I donít mean to pick on Egyptians. All nationalities are bound by sin)

When the believer comes out of any part of Egypt (lying in this example), he finds himself in a desert of sorts. He might say, "OK Lord, I have come out of my lifestyle of deception. Now what? How do I survive?" Lying met certain of his needs. How does he get his needs met in this perceived desert that he finds himself? When a person comes out of any sinful lifestyle, they usually end up in what they perceive as a desert-like environment for a while. They perceive it as such because they are not used to getting their needs met without their usual sinful survival skills.

Godís answer to their need for sustenance is manna.

3So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.  Deuteronomy 8:3

The believer learns to cry out to and look to God to sustain him. He gets a word from the Lord promising to meet his need or directing him as to what to do. The word from the Lord that comes to him is like manna from heaven. The believer learns to get a word from God and he then sees God come through on His word. This is the walk of faith that replaces the "Egyptian" survival skill.

Any time God speaks to our hearts about some promise, or command, or word of encouragement, or whatever; this word is like manna to us. It sustains us on our journey with God. This implies more than just reading the Bible. It implies that the Holy Spirit uses the Bible to speak to our hearts.

Thus, the New Testament fulfillment of the unleavened bread is our deliverance out of some sin. The fulfillment of the manna is seen when we see Godís provision as we follow Him after leaving that sin. The manna is experienced after our deliverance from some sin (the sin being like living in Egypt). The manna is Godís answer to the believerís cry, "I gave up that lifestyle for You! Now what? How am I going to survive without it? How am I going to live?" Godís reply, "Manna! Iíll feed you in the desert. Through it all, you will learn to rely upon My word." "...that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from of the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:3)

To summarize, the manna is all about receiving God's provision, whereas the unleavened bread is all about dying to self, or leaving sin and the world. The ultimate reason Christians confuse these two is because the real meaning of the bread of the Lordís Supper, dying to sin, is uncomfortable. A message about life is much easier to swallow. But, the ensuing confusion is devastating. The clear picture of the Christian lifestyle as seen in the Lordís Supper is ruined. And, the much needed message that the bread stands for is ignored.