Manna, pt. 3,
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 continues to enumerate ways in which manna is
typical (or symbolic) of God’s Word]
6. The manna was gathered daily. Then 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” (v. 4). 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 (spiritually) 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” (see Rom. 15:4). 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 first 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). Before “an omer” could be gathered much labor was entailed, for manna was “a small round thing.”
9. The manna was gathered by stooping. 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” (Ps. 119:18).
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 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 knew 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 was 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 insipid 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. The manna was not to be stored up in the tents of the Israelites for a single day; yet here we see it preserved for almost forty years in the Tabernacle. 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.
14. 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” (Isa. 40:8). 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).
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