“The more things change, the more things stay the same.” It is fun to research the history and origins of common phrases like this. That research can be done today on the computer. But years before the internet, I used a book called: “Morris’ Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins.” Through the years, I have spent many hours in that book. “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” That phrase is attributable to a German philosopher named Karr, but it is far better know as from the lips of Winston Churchill and the pen of George Barnard Shaw. The article that I read pointed out that perhaps its real origin lays in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

Another of those corny, trite, worn-out – but absolutely true phrases is: “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” That quote came from British statesman Edmund Burke, who is considered to be the philosophical founder of modern political conservatism. The article which I read about this quotation referred to Hitler’s “Operation Barbarrosa” – his attack on Russia – which almost completely duplicated Napoleon’s disastrous attack on Russia a century earlier. Hitler failed to learn from the earlier history, and now he is now nothing but a bit of terrible history. Both phrases are true – “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”

One of these days, according to the Bible, there is going to be a man who will pretend to be Christ Jesus. This ultimate false-christ, this anti-christ, this evil-Christ is going to offer people what they wanted when the true Christ, was here. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, refused to give to the people what they demanded, but the anti-Christ will promise to fulfill their wishes, and deceive them into thinking he can fulfill those promises – without God. The fact is, there have been false-christs in this world almost since the days of the Lord Jesus Himself, and there are still people claiming to be Christ at this very moment. But there will be a day, perhaps only a few weeks or months from now, when the final and ultimate anti-christ will present himself to the wicked people of this world. He will come when the world is in bad shape, and he will offer things which the Jews demanded of Jesus. “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” This anti-Christ will make promises of bread in every oven and beans in every pot. He will appear to heal the sick and raise the dead, even to appear be resurrected himself. Additionally, he will offer and orchestrate peace between nations. The Bible teaches that the world will flock to his side until he proves himself to be an ambassador of Satan. But by then they will possess the mark of the beast. By then their eternal condition will be sealed in rebellion against Jehovah. And eventually they will be judged at the Great White Throne, hearing the words of their condemnation and execution. “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”

The people who will struggle to live through the Great Tribulation, will be much like the people of John 6. But what they demanded 2000 years ago was, in essence, denied by the true Christ at that time. Jesus tried to show them that they longed for mud pies, while He was offering them real food. They wanted meat that would satisfy them only for a day, when He was offering the food of eternity. “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”

By the time of this chapter, the Lord Jesus was nearing the height of his short-lived popularity. He was healing sick people, feeding thousands of people, and raising the dead. But throughout His ministry He was teaching that these physical miracles were only shadows of the real. There is little point in curing cancer, if the person dies and is later cast into Hell. What good is it to raise the dead, only to see that person die a few years later while spitting into the face of Jehovah? And the feeding of five thousand here, and four thousand over there, didn’t keep those same people from hunger by the next morning.

Isn’t it true that the people of this world are still primarily concerned with these same material things? Aren’t our neighbors more concerned with curing cancer than loving Christ? And isn’t there a tendency even in our own hearts to worry about our physical health more than our affinity with Lord? Aren’t the people that we work with almost totally consumed with paying the bills, putting tonight’s food on the table and having a few dollars for something fun tomorrow? I saw this comment two days ago: “This is called Black Friday because only in America do people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”

Jesus’ message was, “Wake up. These things are not nearly as important as you might think.” The people of this chapter said… “If you will give us manna the way that Moses did, we will believe that you are the Messiah.” They weren’t really lying, but they didn’t know their own hearts or their nation’s history. If Christ Jesus had made them all millionaires, they would still have eventually gone on to hate Him. If He had given them manna every day for rest of their lives, most would have died despising Him because He went on to say that God demands their love and righteous living. They didn’t need more earthly things, they needed new hearts and a few eternal and spiritual things. And our needs today are exactly the same. “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

The Son of God, that day, took the people’s demand for manna, and taught them some eternal truths. So with that example we can say that the miraculous, white, lumps of pure nutrition which Israel found on the ground outside their tents almost every day for nearly 40 years, were a picture of Christ. The word “manna” literally means, “What is it,” and every piece of “what was it” also asked, “Who is He?” The Old Testament declares that the manna had a nutty taste, like coriander seed. When the people first started eating it, they were delighted with its delicate savor and consistency. Six mornings a week they found it like dew laying on the ground. It was in such abundance that it fed several million people during their entire wilderness wanderings. But the Lord Jesus declared that it was nothing when compared to the real manna from Heaven.

Please notice with me five simple lessons this morning. They have been preached thousands of times. They are almost as eternal as the scripture itself.

First, this manna was desperately NEEDED.

The wilderness from southern Saudi Arabia to central Palestine is terrible, harsh, and almost useless real estate. There is very little that grows there; the temperatures often reach over120 degrees, and rain falls very rarely. When over two million people exited Egypt and first headed south-east, they carried very few provisions. After they had spent a few weeks at Sinai, they became totally dependent upon Jehovah to feed them. Water was miraculously supplied, and the people were taught to daily depend upon the Lord. Quail were miraculously given, and people were taught not to think that the Lord could not supply. But Israelites can’t live on t-bone steaks or treats of quail alone – no one can. There was a need for a daily, consistent supply of nutritious food, to keep the people alive long enough to die their natural deaths. And Jehovah supplied that food in the mysterious form of “manna” – “what is it?”

That manna pre-figured the Lord Jesus, in that He, too, is absolutely essential to life. He said, “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, but now they are dead.” “Their bones were laid in sandy graves out there in the wildernesses of Moab, Sin and Sinai.” “But I am the living bread which came down from Heaven, that if any man eat thereof he shall live forever”

Will you listen to one simple Bible verse with me for just a moment? I John 5:12 says, “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” “The Son” refers to the Son of God, the Lord Jesus. The person who possesses and is possessed by Christ has life, and those who don’t are dead. Obviously that cannot refer to the kind of life that a doctor tries to maintain and a coroner tries to explain. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

The manna in the wilderness was essential to the further existence of Israel. And the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to the eternal life of people before and since.

Secondly, that manna was the GIFT of GOD.

It was a miraculous and gracious gift of God. You and I have a terrible habit of limiting the Lord. We have a sinful tendency to think that there are things which God cannot do. Indeed, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” When it comes to supplying needs, we forget that God owns the cattle on ten thousand hills. Christ Jesus fed several thousand people with a handful of fish and bread. The Lord’s prophet fed a widow and her son by miraculously extending a tiny bit oil. Grain, or meal, was increased in a woman’s barrel on another occasion. Jesus once supplied a need by putting a piece of money inside a fish that was caught by a fisherman. Jehovah could have fed those Israelites with a new menu every day for forty thousand years, but He chose not to do it that way. As it is written, God gave them one item over and over again – bread from heaven – verse 31.

By the way, there are modern sceptics, who deny that the Lord fed Israel in that way for that many years. They say that the story of the manna is nothing but an Old Testament Jewish fable. Some of them say they like the moral philosophy of the New Testament, but the Old Testament is full of misdirection and myths. Let me remind you that Christ Jesus repeated what the Old Testament declared, obviously believing that it was the truth. He knew that it was the truth. The moral philosophy of Christ is worthless if He lied or even misunderstood what Moses recorded about the manna in the wilderness. The record of that longest-running miracle in human history is absolutely true. We must believe it or suffer the soul-damning consequences of our unbelief.

While it may have been long-running miracle, it wasn’t even close to being the most important of all miracles. After referring to the manna, the Lord Jesus then added, “BUT my Father, the Heavenly Father, giveth you the true Bread from Heaven.” That original manna has never been re-manufactured or grown upon this earth. It was angel food that Betty Crocker or General Mills has never duplicated. It was a long-term, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Israel. But then “when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons….” “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Mankind has been trying his alchemy for 6,000 years – trying to duplicate the Lord’s greatest miracles. Many people want wilderness food, the restoration of life to a dead man, and the salvation of the sinner. But just as man can’t make gold out of lead, he can’t turn physical life into eternal life. Like saving faith – “it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.”

Something else: that manna was TOTALLY SATISFYING to the heart that wanted to be satisfied.

The manna was exactly suited to meet all the cravings and needs of Israel’s hunger. After a while it didn’t satisfy the cravings of Israel’s sin and their lust, but it always met their hunger. It possessed every vitamin, every mineral, all the calcium, protein, carbohydrates and everything else that they needed. It was especially prepared for that task.

In a similar but much larger way, the Son of God was especially appointed by God to meet our spiritual needs. Is it as true in you, as it is in me, that I get thirsty or hungry for specific things? There are times when the only thing that I crave for my throat is some kind of bubbly liquid. And at other times, coffee is the only thing that hits the spot. But just before bed, I never drink milk or coffee; the only thing that I yearn is pure, clean, cold water. Similarly, there is only one food that the dying soul desires and needs – the Saviour – Christ Jesus. Our problem is that we have made ourselves addicted to coffee instead of Christ. In our sinfulness we yearn for soda instead of the Saviour. Jesus said, “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness – and they are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.”

If you think about that original manna, it was ACCESSIBLE to everyone and anyone.

Like the work of the milk man in my early childhood, the Lord put that manna just outside the door of every Israelite tent. It wasn’t necessary to pack for a week-long hunting trip, spending more on the hunt than they would have been spent at the grocery store. That manna wasn’t so heavy that only strong, healthy adults could gather it. It wasn’t like the elusive mushroom, hiding among the toadstools, so that only an expert botanist could discern what was poison and what was pleasant. The manna wasn’t growing on the tops of towering palm trees. It was not the work of the child to gather manna every day, but any child could have done it. And that gift of God was not sold for any price. There was no work, money, social status, or church membership necessary for gathering it.

After the gathering, the only requirement was that each child of Jacob had to personally eat his own manna. There was no provision for a mother to eat the manna for her daughter, except if she was nursing her. Uncles could not eat for their nephews, and fathers could not eat on behalf of their sons. The priests could not eat it on behalf of their friends. It may be possible today to donate blood to sustain the life of a loved one or friend. But still that blood has to be applied before it can be of benefit.

And the life contained in the blood of Christ Jesus, cannot be shared with someone without his active consent and participation. Jesus is the gift of God which brings eternal life to the dying soul. But it is only “as many as received Him, to them gives He power to become the sons of God” – John 1:12. Jesus argued with those rebellious Jews that their nationality and heritage did not make them children of God. Their forefathers were descendants of Abraham, and they ate manna in wilderness, but they were all dead – every single one of them by Jesus’ day. And similarly, your parent’s church membership can’t make you a Christian or take you to Heaven. Your godly parents can’t taste of Christ on your behalf. You must come to the cross; you must repent of your sins; you must trust in the blood of Christ. The Lord must be gracious toward you in an intimate and personal way.

Do you say that your trust for eternal life is in the blood of Christ? I sincerely hope that is true. Now, let me point out one additional fact. The manna was eaten daily, every day for about forty years. It is true that when a sinner comes to Christ he becomes a new creature, and the life given to him is eternal. But I do not agree with those who say that all they must do is pray a little prayer, asking Jesus to come into their hearts, and then they never have to think about the Saviour or their souls again. Those who have new life from Christ – daily, lovingly, and longingly come back to the manna fields. You may test your profession of Salvation by testing your current love for the Saviour. I will not say that if your love for the Lord has waned a bit, that you are not a child of God. But if you have gone for weeks or months, without any true spontaneous thought of God…. If you have gone for weeks without any desire to pray, to serve, or to worship the Lord…. If you hate the house of God, reading God’s Word and the preaching of the Word…. If you haven’t tasted the manna of the Lord in months, then there is a good likelihood that you never have tasted of it at all. It is possible to forget the wonderful taste of pure water, by polluting it with other things. But if you can’t go back and love that taste again, there is something wrong.

This morning, I ask you to examine whether or not you have tasted Christ by faith. Have you feasted on the True Manna from Heaven? Is Christ Jesus your Lord and Saviour? Is He your Friend and your God? Have you been to Jesus for the food which means eternal life? If you have not, please, right now, repent before God, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.