Despite the miraculous way that God saved the Israelites, they pretty quickly set about whining and complaining. Did you notice that it was in the ‘Desert of Sin’ (v1) that the ‘whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron’ (v2)?
God graciously provides them bread from heaven to eat in the mornings, and some meat to eat in the evenings. He also gives them some instructions about how to collect the bread. It would seem that He was teaching them to rely on Him for provision.
Sadly, some of the Israelites failed to follow God’s instructions (v20), and the bread became mouldy and maggoty. Some people even broke the instruction not to collect on the Sabbath (v27).
The Israelites’ failure to follow God’s good commands here becomes a theme not just for the rest of Exodus (think of the golden calf incident), but also the rest of the Old Testament. It becomes clear that what God’s people really need is a new heart, so that God’s commands are written on their hearts.
This is what Jesus brings us: new hearts. It is the salvation that He brings about that is the truly effective one. It should come as no surprise to us, therefore, that Jesus describes Himself as the ‘bread of life’ (John 6:35). He is the Bread of heaven that the earlier bread in the wilderness was merely a shadow of, and a sign pointing to.