The Ark and Its Contents: Manna

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 12
The manna was the provision of God's grace for a wilderness people, just as the paschal lamb had been his provision for a guilty people, providing a shelter from wrath to which otherwise they must have been exposed. Both pointed to Christ as the Sent One of God, meeting the need of the earthly people as God knew it, and not according to their sense of it. Israel did not ask for either one or the other; the blood of the lamb provided a safe shelter that they might in peaceful enjoyment feed upon the lamb itself. God's glory was secured by Christ's obedience unto death, and faith appropriates such a Savior who becomes the life of the soul. “He that eateth me, even he shall live because of me.” The sinner saved feeds upon the grace which brought Him to the place of death for his deliverance—bows to the divine testimony (that of the Judge Himself) “When I see the blood I will pass over you”; and the immense relief and satisfaction obtained thereby sustain the heart and shut out for a time all idea of any other necessity.
It was a full month before the Israelites realized that although they had escaped the judgment, they had lost all Egypt's resources and its pleasures. The world becomes a barren desert to the believer in Christ, the wilderness is before him and he has yet to learn, with the Psalmist, that all his springs are in God: this discovery is painful and humiliating, He humbled thee and proved thee (Deut. 8:2, 32And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:2‑3)). God in infinite love provided for the need of His people by giving them bread from heaven, but in doing so He put them to the proof; they were on their way to the promised rest, but the rest itself must be ever kept before them; hence the manna must not be looked upon as a thing permanent and lasting, but as a temporary provision for exceptional circumstances and closely connected from its very beginning with the sabbath which was to be a permanent institution and an outward sign, a witness to the whole world that they belonged to God and were to be obedient to Jehovah Who had redeemed them.
This test of obedience was not, as in the passover, to be satisfied by one act of faith once for all (“through faith he kept the passover and the I sprinkling of blood” (Heb. 11:2828Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Hebrews 11:28)) with results immediately made good in the soul, so that the questions of deliverance and acceptance need never again be opened up) but was also a protracted and continuous one as long as they were passing through the wilderness.
From the first, Israel failed to appreciate angels' food; their tastes, desires and inclinations were gross and impure; the yearning of their hearts was for the fleshpots of Egypt, and, in the last year of their pilgrimage they made the awful admission without shame, “our soul loatheth this light bread” (Num. 21:55And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. (Numbers 21:5)).
It is just the same now with the children of God on their journey to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
God has found His delight in His beloved Son, and will look to no other; the voice from the excellent glory bore witness to this, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.” We are put to the proof by this just as Israel was by the manna. Israel was set to learn the lesson “that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live.” This, the nation as a whole never learned, though there were bright exceptions, such as Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, etc., To have knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of the most advanced truth touching Christ's present position, and our relationship to Him as members of His body, the coming rapture of the saints and such like subjects, precious as these are, will not compensate for the want of appetite for the Manna. Perhaps the lessons of the wilderness are never fully learned until the close of the journey. God might have supplied the needs of His people in other ways, but the way He chose, certainly called for the daily exercise of faith, obedience, diligence, and constant dependence upon Himself. If we read carefully Ex. 16 we shall not only he instructed in God's gracious way of nourishing His earthly people, but also as to the way in which our spiritual wants are anticipated in His word, the regular and dilligent study of which will supply us with that divine food, Christ Himself, which our souls so much need. But the manna was after all a temporary provision. Intended only to continue for a year or so, Israel's unbelief and refusal to go into the promised land, had the effect of adding to their pilgrimage eight and thirty years, and God graciously continued this wonderful provision for their daily need. His care over them was shown out in the minutest details, so that their raiment waxed not old, nor did their feet swell; circumstances which may have passed unnoticed by many at the time. One remarkable thing remains to be noticed; whether much or little was gathered, everyone was satisfied, and the need of each soul was met, “and when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lank; they gathered every man according to his eating” (Ex. 16:1818And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. (Exodus 16:18)). No doubt there are degrees of spiritual appetite amongst the Lord's people and different capacities for the reception, and understanding, of the truth of God, but that is not the precise point here, but rather that in coming to Christ every one finds his need fully met and nothing superfluous. Whatever may be our heart's need, we find it all met by Christ, and as we make progress in the divine life and discover new glories and fresh graces and excellencies in our Lord Jesus Christ under the teaching of the Spirit, we can say that we need them all, we cannot do without one of them.
(Continued from p. 128).
(To be continued.)