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We read in Ex 16:13- 18 how Israelites were fed with Manna from Heaven:

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’” The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.

Last two verses are noteworthy, in that they refer to an ancillary miracle in continuation of the Manna miracle. To illustrate: Suppose Yohan and Isov were friends- each having a family, comprising five members each, staying in separate tents. Thus, each would require 5 omer of Manna. Now, Yohan was joined by his three sons in collecting the Manna , and he gathered much. Isov having three daughters decided to do the harvesting job by himself and was barely able to collect enough for the family. But, when both Yohan and Isov took measure of what they had collected, it turned out to be 5 omer on each side !

One wonders whether the narration of `each getting enough with nothing over and no shortage 'has some special significance say, in the role of a fore-frame of heavenly reward that each Christian looks forward to. In fact, the “omer”; looks like a symbol of the spiritual measurement which fits in to each one's capacity and need. My question therefore is: Does the “omer” of Exodus 16 stand for the measurement of heavenly reward? Inputs from any denomination are welcome.

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    Heavenly reward, this is a good question. The parable of the labourers (laborers) in the vineyard springs to mind, Matthew 20: 1–16 . However, I might suggest it's a foreshadow rather than a symbol (if that makes sense).
    – M__
    Jan 10, 2023 at 13:23

3 Answers 3

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Before we look at the significance of the mana given to the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness, and what it might symbolise, let’s see what the Bible has to say about heavenly rewards:

Heavenly rewards are based on the principle of sowing and reaping:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7).

Heavenly rewards are based on our faithfulness in service to God:

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:12).

If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward (1 Cor. 3:14).

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:19).

If we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:17).

The manna that sustained the Israelites was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. . . . This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (John 6:48–51, 58).

In Revelation chapter 2 Jesus makes reference to “hidden manna” which is a symbolic picture of Jesus Christ:

He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it (Revelation 2:17).

As the manna of the Exodus sustained and strengthened the Israelites for the forty years of desert wanderings, so Jesus strengthens and sustains us spiritually as we walk through this life on our way to heaven. Jesus is the “manna” from heaven, the spiritual sustenance we need.

Those who conquer and overcome are followers of Christ who hold fast to faith in Christ until the end:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

Conclusion: I can’t see how the ‘omer’ or measurement used by the Israelites to gather manna equates to the measure of any heavenly rewards we might receive. What I can see is that those who are born again, and who overcome, depend entirely on the “spiritual manna” – the bread of life – which is Christ Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour. I am from a Reformed Protestant persuasion.

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Does the “omer” of Exodus 16 stand for the measurement of heavenly reward?

No, it is a Hebrew measurement unit.

The omer is an ancient Israelite unit of dry measure used in the era of the Temple in Jerusalem and also known as an isaron. It is used in the Bible as an ancient unit of volume for grains and dry commodities, and the Torah mentions as being equal to one tenth of an ephah. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), an ephah was defined as being 72 logs, and the Log was equal to the Sumerian mina, which was itself defined as one sixtieth of a maris; the omer was thus equal to about 12⁄100 of a maris. The maris was defined as being the quantity of water equal in weight to a light royal talent, and was thus equal to about 30.3 L (8.0 US gal), making the omer equal to about 3.64 L (0.96 US gal). The Jewish Study Bible (2014), however, places the omer at about 2.3 L (0.61 US gal).

In traditional Jewish standards of measurement, the omer was equivalent to the volume of 43.2 chicken's eggs, or what is also known as one-tenth of an ephah (three seahs).[6] In dry weight, the omer weighed between 1.56–1.77 kg (3.4–3.9 lb), being the quantity of flour required to separate therefrom the dough offering.

The word omer is sometimes translated as "sheaf" — specifically, an amount of grain large enough to require bundling. The biblical episode of the manna describes God as instructing the Israelites to collect an omer for each person in your tent, implying that each person could eat an omer of manna a day. In the Torah, the main significance of the omer is the traditional offering (during the Temple period) of an omer of barley on the day after the Sabbath, or, according to the rabbinical view, on the second day of Passover during the feast of unleavened bread, as well as the tradition of the Counting of the Omer (sefirat ha'omer) - the 49 days between this sacrifice and the two loaves of wheat offered on the holiday of Shavuot. During the Temple period, the offering of the omer was one of twenty-four priestly gifts, and one of the ten which were offered to priests within the Temple precincts, when Jewish farmers would bring the first of that year's grain crop to Jerusalem.

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  • Where is this block quote taken from? Jan 11, 2023 at 2:50
  • Thanks, Ken Graham. I have since edited my question for more clarity. What I am referring to is the symbolic value of omer , rather than its physical properties . Jan 11, 2023 at 5:25
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It seems there is a connection. The omer was a measurement of manna that sustained a single Israelite for a day. In Exodus 16, the word omer is used six times, but there are seven days in a week. Verse 22 talks about the two omers but the singular form of the word is used. Hence the seventh omer kept for the sabbath is "hidden".

Revelation 2:17 talks about the hidden manna as a reward for the overcomers.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

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    And Christ Jesus is our Sabbath and our daily bread. +1 Jan 11, 2023 at 2:47
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    @Mike Borden: Amen brother. Jan 16, 2023 at 0:18

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