What is the hidden manna?

The Question:

God says that he will give the "hidden manna" to the overcomer. What does it mean actually? What does the hidden manna refer to? Does it refer to hidden mysteries of God as a few say?

JC from India


The Answer
Part 1: A meal for the future
Part 2: The New Testament connection

A meal for the future (Part 1)

Revelation 2:17 holds a wonderful and mysterious promise. It says; "'To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.'" Many have speculated about this hidden manna. What is it?

I'll tell you up front that I don't know the answer. The book of Revelation in particular is filled with prophecies, symbols and types and I believe we are not privy to full understanding until the right time. The closer we arrive to end time events spoken of in Revelation, the clearer will be our understanding. In the meanwhile God has some of it veiled for his own purposes.

Yet, we can piece some things together and we can continue to seek and pray for discernment. We can start with an understanding of manna which was the food God provided to the Israelites when they wandered for forty years in the desert. The Lord told Moses; "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day." (Exodus 16:4)

What else do we know about it? "It was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey." (Exodus 16:31) We also know from Psalm 78:24 that it was the heavenly food of angels. "And given them the bread of heaven. Men ate angels' food." Additionally God wanted some of it saved and preserved for future generations to remind them of the Lord's covenant of faithfulness. Moses placed a portion of manna in the Ark of the Covenant.

Now comes a real mystery in the Old Testament. Somewhere between the time Moses first placed it in the Ark and the dedication of the Solomon's Temple, the manna disappeared along with Aaron's rod. At the dedication ceremony; "nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt." (1 Kings 8:9)

Where did the manna go? Did God or an angel remove it and take it back to heaven? Some Jewish legends claim that Jeremiah hid it before the Babylonian captivity and that it would remain there until the Messiah showed up. Finally, in Revelations we see reference to it once again.

Next: Where is the hidden manna?


The New Testament connection (Part 2)

To piece this all together, it is important to understand what the Messiah said about himself when he finally did show up. Jesus told the Jewish people; "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die." (John 6:48-50) He is letting them know that the manna in the old days was a foreshadowing of the new covenant. HE is the REAL manna.

The new covenant is better than the old because; "'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 6:51)

Since Jesus fulfilled and replaced the old covenant, we can assume that the hidden manna he is talking about in Revelation 2:17 is spiritual food - not simply going back and eating the same thing that dropped from heaven every morning in the desert.

More than asking what the hidden manna is, we should be asking what it means to "overcome" because remember that the promise is "to him who overcomes…" Worldly Christians may wonder how little they can do and still keep their salvation. Some would like to walk as close to the line as possible without falling over it. That certainly will not win the prize.

Rather, we should pursue overcoming with all our heart. Jesus has gone ahead of us and made it possible. He said; "be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Perhaps as we seek to be overcomers something wonderful will happen. Perhaps he will give us a glimpse of the hidden manna - perhaps a taste! If you find out before I do, please let me know.

See more Straight Talk Questions and Answers.

ask a question
Top