Manna, pt. 2,
by Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)
1And 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. 2And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3And 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. 4Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. (Ex 16:1-5 AV)
13And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. 14And 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. 15And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. 16This 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. 17And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. 18And 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.
19And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. 21And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. 22And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. 28And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30So the people rested on the seventh day. 31And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. (Ex. 13-31 AV)
[Mr. Pink is enumerating ways in which manna is
typical (or symbolic) of God’s Word]
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 sufficiency 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? And then I remember that blessed word in I Corinthians 15:51. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Then I see why the Holy Spirit caused this Psalm to open thus.
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” (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.
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