In today’s text, we watch as the Israelites settle into the rhythm of work and Sabbath. Some of them, of course, learn this rhythm the hard way. They go out on the seventh day to gather the manna and find nothing there. Eventually, however, it seems that they, too, follow the rules.
The Israelites will live on manna for forty years, until they come to a habitable land. Knowing this, God instructs the people to keep a portion of manna to remind them of God’s faithfulness. So Aaron takes a jar and puts the equivalent of one person’s daily portion in it.
Aaron places the jar before the covenant to be carried with them through their wanderings (v. 34). Most scholars say that this is a reference to what later will be the ark of the covenant. Hebrews 9:4 says that a “golden urn holding the manna” was inside the ark of the covenant with other sacred objects.
This jar is to be a sacred token of remembrance of the time when God rained bread from heaven. It is to remind future generations of God’s faithfulness, of a time when each family took only what it needed for each day, and of a time when there was enough for everyone. Walter Brueggemann calls this a “sacramental memorial.” The Eucharist, he says, remembers the manna story and envisions “what it will be like when bread from heaven is not hoarded, but is trusted in by the human community on a daily basis.”
Do you have any tokens that remind you of God’s faithfulness?
God, help us remember the times when you provide for us all. Help us to hold the vision of your faithfulness in our hearts. Amen.