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< 021601 > EXODUS Not for long were Israel permitted to enjoy the grateful refreshment and shade of the wells and palm trees of Elim (15:27). The first verses of our chapter tell us, “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin.” If we compare Numbers 33, which records the various stages or stoppingplaces in Israel’s journeys, we find that “they removed from Elim, and encamped by the Red Sea” (v. 10). Most probably this was some bay or creek of the Sea, where for a short time their camp was now pitched, perhaps with the design of them looking once more at those waters through which they had passed dry-shod, but which had overwhelmed their enemies. Evidently their stay there was a short one, and as nothing of importance happened, it is omitted in Exodus 16.
The leading of Israel into the Wilderness of Sin brings out the strength of Moses’ faith. Here, for the first time, the full privation of desert life stared the people fully in the face. Every step they took was now leading them farther away from the inhabited countries and conducting them deeper into the land of desolation and death. The isolation of the wilderness was complete, and the courage and faith of their leader in bringing a multitude of at least two million people into such a howling waste, demonstrates his firm confidence in the Lord God. Moses was not ignorant of the character of the desert. He had lived for forty years in its immediate vicinity ( <020301> 3:1), and, therefore, he knew full well that only a miracle, yea, a series of daily miracles, could meet the vast needs of such a multitude. In this his faith was superior to Abraham’s ( Genesis 12:10). “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt” (v. 1).
Why, we may ask, such particularity in noting the time-mark here? As a matter of mere history it seems of little interest or importance. What difference does it make to us today which month and what day of the month it was when Israel entered the Wilderness of Sin? It was on “the fifteenth day of the second month” after their leaving Egypt that Israel came unto this wilderness. The very fact that the Holy Spirit has recorded this detail is sufficient proof it is not meaningless. There is nothing trivial in the Word of God. Even the numerals are there used with Divine purpose and significance. And herein we may discover the answer to our question.
It was the “second month,” and in Scripture “two” speaks of witness or testimony (cf. Revelation 11:3, etc.). It was the “fifteenth day” of the month, and the factors of 15 are five and three. In Scripture “five” signifies grace or favor ( Genesis 43:34, etc.), and “three” is the number of manifestations — hence the number of resurrection, when life is fully manifested. By combining these definitions we learn that God was now to give unto Israel a witness and manifestation of His grace. How fully the sequel bears this out is most apparent.
In order for grace to shine forth there must first be the dark background of sin. Grace is unmerited favor, and to enhance its glory the demerits of man must be exhibited. It is where sin abounded that grace did much more abound ( Romans 5:21). It was so here. The very next thing that we read of is, “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the Wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (vv. 2, 3).
A darker background could scarcely be imagined.
Here was the self-same people who had been divinely spared from the ten plagues on Egypt, who had been brought forth from the land of bondage, miracuously delivered at the Red Sea, Divinely guided by a Pillar of Cloud and Fire, day and night, — now “murmuring,” complaining, rebelling! And it was not a few of the people who did so; the “whole congregation” were guilty. It was not simply that they muttered among themselves, but they murmured against their Divinely-chosen leader. Their sin, too, was aggravated by an oath; they took the Divine name “in vain” — “would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt.” It is also evident that in their hot-headed insubordination they lied, for as slaves of the merciless Egyptians there is no ground whatever for us to suppose that they “sat by the flesh-pots” or “ate bread to the full.” Finally, their wicked unbelief comes out in the words, “for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” It was Jehovah. not simply Moses and Aaron, who had brought them forth; and He had promised they should worship Him at Sinai ( Exodus 3:12). It was not possible, then, for them to die with hunger in the wilderness.
What, then, was the Lord’s response to this awful outbreak of rebellious unbelief? Verse 4 tells us: “Behold, I will rain” — what: “fire and brimstone that ye may be consumed”? No; “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.” Marvelous grace was this; sovereign, unmerited favor!
The very first word here is designed to arrest our attention. In Scripture, “behold” is the Holy Spirit’s exclamation mark. “Behold” — mark with worshipful wonder. Here, then, is the blessed force of the time-mark in verse 1. The raining (which speaks of a plentiful supply) of bread from Heaven for these murmuring Israelites was indeed a witness to the grace of God fully manifested!
That which follows here in Exodus 16 is deeply important. Every detail in it speaks loudly to us, if only we have ears to hear. The manna which Jehovah provided for Israel is a beautiful type of the food which God has provided for our souls. This food is His own Word. This food is both His written Word and His incarnate Word. We propose to consider these separately. In the remainder of this article we shall trace some of the many points of analogy between the manna and the Scriptures as the heavenly food for God’s people. In our next paper we shall view the manna as a type of the Lord Jesus, the Heavenly One come down to earth. 1. THE MANNA WAS A SUPERNATURAL GIFT. “Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you” (v. 4).
This is the first great lesson which the manna is designed to teach us. The manna was not a product of the earth; it was not manufactured by man; it was not something which Israel brought with them out of Egypt — there was no manna there. Instead, it came down from heaven. It was a gift from God.
Various attempts have been made to explain away the supernatural in connection with the manna. Some have declared that it grew on a certain tree found in the wilderness; but they fail to explain how it grew in winter as well as summer; how that it was obtainable in every part of the wilderness, no matter where Israel’s camp was pitched; or, how that sufficient was to hand to feed upwards of two million souls for almost forty years! How foolish is man’s infidelity. The only possible explanation of the manna is to see in its continued supply a miracle. It was furnished by God Himself. So it is with that which the manna prefigured — the written Word. The Scriptures are the spiritual manna for our souls, and at every point they manifest their supernatural origin. Many efforts have been made to account for the Bible, but on this point man’s reasonings are as ridiculous as when he attempts to explain the manna on natural lines. The Bible is a miraculous production. It was given by Divine Inspiration. It has come from heaven. It is the gift of God.
It is striking to note how the supernatural is evidenced in connection with the giving of the manna. In Exodus 16:16 we read, “This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded; gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man. according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.”
Now, a conservative estimate of the total number of Israelites who came out of Egypt would be two million. for they had six hundred thousand men able to go forth to war” (See Numbers 1:45,46). An “omer” was to be gathered for every one of these two million souls, and an “omer” is the equivalent of six pints. There would be twelve million pints, or nine million pounds gathered daily, which was four thousand five hundred tons. Hence, ten trains, each having thirty cars, and each car having in it fifteen tons, would be needed for a single day’s supply. Over a million tons of manna were gathered annually by Israel. And let it be remembered this continued for forty years! Equally wonderful, equally miraculous, equally Divine is the Bible. 2. THE MANNA CAME RIGHT TO WHERE THE PEOPLE WERE. “And in the morning the dew lay round about the host; and when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing” (vv. 13, 14).
No long journey had to be taken in order to secure the manna. The Israelites did not have to cross the wilderness before they could secure their needed food. It was right to hand; before their eyes. There, just outside their tent door, lay the manna on the ground. So it is with the Word of God. It is blessedly accessible to all of us. I often think that if it were harder to procure a Bible than it is some of us would prize it more than we do. If we had to cross the ocean and journey to the other side of the world to obtain a copy of the Holy Scriptures we would value them far more than we do now!
But the very accessibility of the manna only added to the responsibility of Israel. Its very nearness measured their obligation. By virtue of the fact that it lay on the ground just outside their tents they had to do something with it. They must either gather it or trample it beneath their feet! And my reader, this is equally true of God’s Word. The very fact that it is right here to your hand determines your responsibility. You are obliged to do one of two things with it: show your appreciation by gathering it unto your soul, or despise and trample it beneath your feet by a criminal neglect. 3. THE MANNA WAS SMALL IN SIZE. “And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground” (v. 14).
Who would have imagined that a complete and perfect revelation from God and of God could be comprised within the compass of a comparatively small volume? Think of it — the sum total of God’s revealed Truth in a book which can be carried in your pocket! All that is needed to make us wise unto salvation; all that is needed to sustain our souls throughout our earthly pilgrimage; all that is needed to make the man of God “perfect” (complete), within the compass of the Bible!
Continuing to regard the manna as a symbol and a type of the Word of God, what does this teach us? Why, surely, it prefigured the beautiful symmetry of Scripture. It tells us that the Bible is a perfect whole, complete and entire. 4. THE MANNA WAS WHITE IN COLOR. “And the house of Israel called the name thereof manna: and it was like coriander seed, white” (v. 31).
Everything here has a spiritual significance. The Holy Spirit had a good reason for telling us the particular color of the manna. There is nothing meaningless in Scripture anywhere. Everything in God’s Word has a value and message for us.
Now “white” is the emblem of purity. Thus we have emphasized the absolute purity of the Word of God. Let us link together three Scriptures. “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” ( Psalm 12:6): they are pure morally and they are pure spiritually. They are like the “pure river of the water of life” which proceedeth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb — they are “clear as crystal” ( Revelation 22:1). Again, we read in <19B9140> Psalm 119:140, “Thy Word is very pure: therefore Thy servant loveth it.” The Scriptures are termed the “Holy Scriptures” because they are separated off from all other writings by virtue of their exalted spirituality and Divine purity. Once more, in Proverbs 30:5 we read, “Every word of God is pure.” There is no admixture of error in God’s Word. In it there are no mistakes, no contradictions, no blemishes. 5. THE MANNA WAS TO BE EATEN.
This brings us to the central and most important point in connection with our type. The manna was not given simply to look at, or admire; but to be eaten. It was for food. It was God’s provision to meet the bodily need of His people Israel. It is thus with the spiritual manna. God’s Word is to be turned to practical account. It is given to provide food for our souls. But in order to derive from it the nutriment we require we need to learn how to feed on the Bread of Life. Just as a neglect of suitable diet or proper feeding in the natural sphere results in a low condition of bodily health, so to neglect our spiritual food or to ignore the laws of spiritual dietetics results in a sickly state of soul. In all correct eating there are three things: appropriation, mastication, assimilation. Let us consider each one separately. Appropriation. This is a point so obvious that many may think it is unnecessary to develop it. And yet it is just here that so many of God’s children fail. When I sit down to a well-spread table it is apparent that I cannot begin to eat everything before me. Nor is that required. The first thing necessary is to appropriate to myself a portion of the food before me.
No matter how excellent the quality of the food may be, or how tastily prepared, it will avail me nothing to sit and admire it. I need to have a certain portion of it placed upon my own plate, and then to eat it.
It is so with the spiritual manna. The Word of God is exhaustless in its contents. In it is stored sufficient for the people of God in all ages. There is far more in it than ever I can possibly assimilate. What I must do is make an appropriation to my own soul’s needs. And this must be done just as definitely as the eating of my material food. We are anxious to be of real help here to all our readers, so let us be very simple.
Our first need is to appropriate. To appropriate means to take unto ourselves, to make our own. This was the initial lesson in connection with our salvation. The difference between an unbeliever and a believer is in the employment of the personal pronoun. An unbeliever may speak of the Savior, but only the believer can truthfully say “my Savior.” Faith appropriates unto ourselves. Faith personalizes. When I read in Isaiah 53 concerning Christ that “He was wounded for our transgression,” faith individualizes it and says, “He was wounded for my transgressions.” This is what we mean by appropriation. We appropriated Christ when we took Him as our own personal Savior.
Now, just as we appropriated the Savior, so we need to appropriate the promises and the precepts of God’s Word. For example, when I read in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; speak, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” faith makes it personal, and applying to myself what I read there. I say — “Ask, and it shall be given me; seek, and I shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto me.” And again, I read in Romans 8:32, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things,” and faith takes this to myself. I apply it to my own case, and read, “How shall He not with Him also freely give me all things?”
A Scottish pastor once called on an aged saint of God. At once she handed the minister the Bible and asked him to read some portion to her — would that we had more like her today; many a pastor’s heart would be rejoiced if, when he called on his members, they desired him to read and pray with them instead of wanting him to discuss the gossip and scandal of the town.
As the minister turned the pages he noticed that in the margins had been written the letters T. and T.P. He asked the old lady what these letters signified. She answered, Observe that they are always placed opposite some promise of God. T. means “tried,” and T.P., “tried and proven.” She had learned to feed on God’s Word. She had appropriated the promises unto herself. Have you learned this lesson yet, dear reader? God’s promises will afford you no comfort, and minister no strength to you until you make them your own. For example, I read in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” and when I really appropriate this to myself I shall say, “My God shall supply all Arthur Pink’s need.”
It must be the same with the precepts of Scripture. The commands, the exhortations, the admonitions of the Bible, are not so many abstractions.
No; they are a revelation of Gods will for me. I must read the Scriptures as addressed to me personally. When I come to some word of God which condemns my ways, I must not pass it over, but be honest and take it unto myself. May God give all of us grace to daily appropriate both His promises and precepts. Mastication. After a certain portion of the food spread before me had been placed on my own plate and in my mouth, the next thing is to chew it, to chew it slowly and thoroughly. But in this matter most of us are serious offenders. We bolt our food. We swallow it before it has been properly masticated. We eat too hurriedly. That is the chief reason why so many suffer from dyspepsia — they give their stomachs the work to do which the teeth were intended to perform. A little food thoroughly masticated will supply far more nutrition to the system than a lot of food swallowed almost whole, and our general health would be much better, too.
This is equally true spiritually. Thousands of God’s children are grievous offenders here. They have never learned to use their spiritual teeth. The Bread of Life must be chewed if we are to derive from it the sustenance we so much need. What do I mean? This: meditation stands to reading as mastication does to eating. Re-read, and ponder this last sentence. Dear reader, you will derive far more benefit from a single verse of Scripture read slowly and prayerfully, and duly meditated upon, than you will from ten chapters read through hurriedly!
Meditation is well-nigh a lost art. And it is at the root of most of our troubles. How many complain that they find it so difficult to remember passages of Scripture, passages which they have read perhaps many times.
But this is easily explained. It is because the passage was not turned over in the mind; it was not duly “pondered” ( Luke 2:39). Did you ever notice that the “Blessed Man” of Psalm 1 “meditated” in God’s Law day and night? Meditation is a wonderful aid to fixing in our minds verses and passages of Scripture.
Let us give an illustration of what we mean by meditation. We select one of the most familiar verses in all the Bible ( Psalm 23:4), “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
Now, as I begin to meditate upon this I take each word or expression separately and then ask them questions. The first thing that strikes my attention is the way in which the verse opens. It does not say “When I shall walk through the valley,” but “Yea, though I walk.” I ponder this over. I ask it a question; I say, why this indefinite language? Is it not certain that one day I shall be called on to walk through the valley of shadows?
Next I turn to the central thing in this verse — “the valley of the shadow of death.” through which the believer, who does die, passes. I ask, Why is dying likened to walking through a “valley”? What are the thoughts suggested by this figure? As I turn this question over in my mind it soon occurs to me (as it should to anyone who gives it a little thought). Why, a “valley” suggests peacefulness, fertility beauty, and particularly, easy travel. A “valley” is the antithesis of a “mountain,” which is difficult and dangerous to climb. In contradistinction, then. from climbing a mountain which is arduous and hazardous, death is likened to walking through a valley which is delightful and safe!
Then I go back to the beginning of the verse, and note thoughtfully each single word. As the believer comes to the end of his earthly pilgrimage he learns that death is simply like passing through a valley. Note he walks, not runs, as though afraid. Then, observe, “though I walk through.” He does not stay in the “valley,” but walks through it. Death is only a door through which the believer passes from these scenes of sin and sorrow to the realm of glory and bliss.
Next I observe that this “valley” is called the “shadow of death.” Why is this? I must not hurry, or I shall be the loser. Let me continue pondering each word separately, so that I may extract its own peculiar sweetness.
What is a “shadow”? Ah, how often it terrifies! How many of us, especially during childhood, were frightened by shadows! But if we had only walked right up to them we should have quickly discovered they were powerless to injure us. And how many a believer has filled the valley of death with terrifying phantoms! How fearfully has he contemplated these images of his own unbelief! O fellow-believer there is nothing, absolutely nothing, for thee to fear in death should it overtake you before the Lord Jesus returns.
This valley is called “the valley of the shadow of death” because a “shadow” is the most harmless thing there is!
And now, as though at last the believer has fully grasped the blessedness of these beautiful figures, having discovered that Death is not a difficult and dangerous mountain to climb, but a “valley” — peaceful and easy-going — to pass through; having learned that in this valley there is nothing more terrifying than a “shadow” he now cries with exulting confidence, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”
Here, then, is an example of what we mean by feeding on God’s Word. Meditation stands to reading as mastication does to eating. Take a single verse of Scripture at the beginning of the day; write it out on a slip of paper, and carry it with you wherever you go. Refresh your memory as opportunity occurs by re-reading it. Pray over it, and ask God to give you a blessing out of this verse; to reveal to you its beauty and preciousness.
Then ponder each word separately. Ask the verse questions and seek to discover its deeper meaning. Suppose you are meditating on Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.”
Ask such questions as these: Why “the angel”? who is it? “Encampeth”; note the perfect tense (continuous) — what is suggested by this figure? “Round about” — what is meant by this? “Them that fear Him” — am I one of them? “And delivereth them” — from what? — find answer from other Scriptures which speak of “deliver” and “deliverance.” Assimilation. This is the result of appropriation and mastication, and the chief end in view. The food which I eat is to supply the waste of the body.
The food which I have masticated and digested is now taken up into my system, and is transmuted into blood and tissue, thereby affording health and strength. The food thus assimilated appears in the vigor of my step, the strength of my arm, the glow on my face. And now equipped, my system is able to ward off the disease germs which attack my body. All of this has its counterpart in the spiritual man. The food which I have taken into my soul, if properly digested, will build up the new nature. It will nourish faith, and supply the needed strength for my daily walk and service. Moreover, it will be a safeguard against the germs of temptation which assail me — “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” ( <19B911> Psalm 119:11).
Here, then, is the grand end in view. God’s Word is given us to feed upon, and this feeding is for the purpose of translating the Scriptures into the terms of daily living. The principles and precepts of the Bible must be incorporated into my life. The Word has not been assimilated until it has become the regulator of my walk and the dynamo of my service. 6. THE MANNA WAS GATHERED DAILY.
The manna which Israel gathered today would not suffice them for tomorrow. A new supply must be secured each day. The spiritual application of this is very evident. The soul requires the same systematic attention as does the body, and if this be neglected and our spiritual meals are taken irregularly. the results will be equally disastrous. But how many fail at this very point! What would you think of a man who sat down to his Sunday dinner and tried to eat sufficient then, at one meal, to last him for the whole week? And yet that is precisely the method followed by multitudes of people with their spiritual food. The only time they get an adequate spiritual meal is on Sunday, and they make that last them for the remainder of the week. Is there any wonder that so many Christians are weak and sickly! O let us face the fact that our souls are in urgent need of a daily supply of the Bread of Life. Whatever else be left undone let us see to it that we regularly feed on the spiritual manna. Remember, it is not the amount of time spent, but the amount of heart which is put into the time which counts. 7. THE MANNA WAS GATHERED IN THE MORNING. “And in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing” (vv. 13, 14).
Here is a lesson which all of us need to seriously take to heart. It was in the early morning, before other things had time to occupy their attention, that God’s people of old gathered their daily supply of the manna. And this is recorded “for our learning.” The Divine Word must not be given a secondary place if we would have God’s blessing upon us. What a difference it would make in many a Christian life if each day was BEGUN in God’s presence! How many, now weak and sickly, would become strong in the Lord and in the power of His might if they formed the habit of feeding each morning on the Bread of Life! If the soul was fed at the time of “the dew,” strength would be obtained and we should be equipped for the duties that lay before us and girded for the temptations which confronted us throughout the day!
Let no reader complain that he has not the time. You may not have time for the careful study of a whole chapter each morning, though even that is to be seriously questioned, but certain it is that you have time to prayerfully select one verse of Scripture and write it out on a piece of paper and attempt to commit it to memory, consulting it during your spare minutes through the day, on the train, or the streetcar, if needs be — the writer memorized the whole epistle of Ephesians on the streetcar, a verse at a time. Certain it is that you do have time to meditate on this one verse throughout the day, and to ponder each word separately. And after the labors of the day are over you may sit down (if only for five minutes) and look up the parallel passages, given in the marginal references. If you will do this daily you will be surprised and delighted at the incalcuable blessing it will bring to your soul. “Seek ye fir st the kingdom of God and His righteousness” ( Matthew 6:33). 8. THE MANNA WAS OBTAINED BY LABOR. “We are reminded by the gathering of it of the Lord’s words, ‘Labor for the meat.’ They did not indeed labor to bring it from Heaven: their labor was to gather it when rained down to them from thence. And here we find that they had to use diligence. It would not keep; they could not lay up a stock for the future: every day they had afresh to be employed with it. If they were not out early and the sun rose upon it, it melted. And here is where diligence on our part is so much needed. Would that we understood this, beloved brethren, better! Manna did not fall into their mouths, but around their tent. They had to use diligence to gather it. Do we understand the necessity of diligence in the apprehension of Divine things? Do we understand that the character of the Word of God is such, as that however plain in a sense it may be, yet it ministers in fact its fullness only to those who have earnestness of heart to seek it. Only ‘if thou criest after knowledge’ says the wise man, ‘and lifted up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.’ And yet He adds for the Lord giveth wisdom.’ But He gives it according to the rules of His own holy government. “Labor is here, therefore, very specially needed; not that the labor simply by itself is anything; not that man’s efforts only can ever here procure for himself what God alone supplies, but still God seeks from us that diligence which shows our apprehension of the treasure that His Word is. He does not give to carelessness or indolence of soul, nor is faith simply a receiver here, but a worker with God.” (Mark Grant.)
It grew not upon the trees, but fell upon the ground. In order to obtain it the Israelites had to go down on their knees. How significant, and how accurate the type! Diligence on our part is required if we are to appropriate from the Word that which our souls need. But something more than diligence is necessary. There must be dependence upon God, the Author of the Word. There must be a seeking from Him. We must get down on our knees and cry, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law.” 10. SOME GATHERED MORE, SOME LESS. “And the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less” (v. 17).
How like what we find around us today! Some Christians confine themselves to the Psalms and the Gospels, rarely referring to any other section of the Bible. Others study the Church Epistles, but neglect the prophetical portions. A few study the Old Testament, as well as the New, and derive immeasurable delight in the wonderful types to be found there on almost every page. It is also true with the spiritual manna that some “gather more, some less.” 11. WHAT WAS GATHERED MUST BE USED. “Let no man leave of it till the morning” (v. 19). Divine truth is not to be hoarded up, but turned to present profit. We are to use what God has given us. We are first to walk in the truth ourselves, and then to recommend it to others.
As the Lord gives us opportunities it is our happy privilege to pass on to others what He has given to us. It is in this way that Christian fellowship becomes most helpful — when we spend an hour, or even a few minutes, with a fellow-believer and discuss together the things of God, instead of the things of the world. 12. THE MANNA WAS INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO THE NATURAL MAN. “And when the children of Israel saw it they said one to another it is manna: for they wist (knew) not what it was” (v. 15).
There was something about this manna which the Israelites could not understand. It was different from anything else they had ever seen. They possessed no knowledge of it. The very word “manna” means “What is it”? “They wist not what it was.” Thus it is also with that which the manna prefigured. The unregenerate are unable to comprehend the Scriptures: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” ( 1 Corinthians 2:14). 13. THE MANNA WAS DESPISED BY THE MIXED MULTITUDE. “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely: the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, besides this manna before our eyes” ( Numbers 11:4-6).
Israel were not alone as they came forth from Egypt. They were accompanied by “A mixed multitude” which had, doubtless, been deeply impressed by Jehovah’s plagues and interventions on Israel’s behalf, but who had no knowledge of God for themselves. Just so it is today; side by side with the wheat grows the tares. There is a “mixed multitude” in the Christian profession, and these like their ancient forefathers, despise the manna. They have no relish for spiritual things. They may own a Bible, perhaps one with all expensive binding and beautifully gilded; but its contents are dry and incipid to them. 14. THE MANNA WAS PRESERVED IN THE ARK. “And Moses said unto Aaron, ‘Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord to be kept for your generations.’ (v. 33). Hebrews 9:4 tells us that it was a ‘golden pot.’ This is very striking.
It was to be kept for the land of Canaan. And so with the antitype: while we cannot feed on yesterday’s experience and make that satisfy the need of today, nevertheless, our experiences from day to day in the wilderness will be found again with rich and blessed fruitage. The ‘golden pot’ in which the manna was stored tells of what a high value God sets upon that which it typified. The fact that the manna was kept in the ark till Canaan was reached, tells of how God has preserved the Scriptures all through the ages. 15. THE MANNA LASTED UNTIL CANAAN WAS REACHED. “And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years until they came to a land inhabited: they did eat manna until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan” (v. 35).
This tells of what an inexhaustible supply God has for His people. To the end of the wilderness journey the manna continued. And thank God this is true of the spiritual manna. The grass withereth and the flower fadeth, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever. We may be in the “last days” of this age; the “perilous times” may be upon us; but we still have God’s blessed word. May we prize it more highly, read it more carefully, study it more diligently.
Here is the grand secret of a healthy and vigorous spiritual life. It is by earnestly desiring the sincere (pure) milk of the Word, that we grow thereby. It is by daily feeding on the Bread of Life that we obtain the strength which we need. It is through having God’s Word in our hearts that we are kept from sinning against. Him. And it is in this way that we should be able to say with Jeremiah, “Thy words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” ( 15:16).