The wilderness of Sin.
I. PROCESSES TRY MEN'S TEMPER. See how the temper of Israel was tried in the wilderness! No bread, no water, no rest! How do processes try men's temper?
1. They are often tedious.
2. They, are often uncontrollable.
3. They often seem to be made worse by the incompetency of others.
II. THE TRIALS OF PROCESSES ARE TO BE MET, NOT ALL AT ONCE, BUT A DAY AT A TIME. Daily hunger was met by daily bread. This daffy display of Divine care teaches —
1. That physical as well as spiritual gifts are God's.
2. That one of God's gifts is the pledge of another. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Why am I to be easy about to-morrow? Because God is good to-day! "He is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever."
III. PROCESSES SHOW THE DIFFERENT DISPOSITIONS OF MEN. Though the people were told in the distinctest manner that there would be no manna on the seventh day, yet they went out to gather it just as if they had never been warned! Such men are the vexation of the world. They plague every community of which they are a portion.
1. We have the means of life at our disposal: the manna lies at our tent-door!
2. We are distinctly assured that such means are given under law: there is a set time for the duration of the opportunity: the night cometh!
IV. ALL THE PROCESSES OF LIFE SHOULD BE HALLOWED BY RELIGIOUS EXERCISES. There was a Sabbath even in the wilderness.
1. The Sabbath is more than a mere law; it is an expression of mercy.
2. No man ever loses anything by keeping the Sabbath: "The Lord giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days."
3. He is the loser who has no day of rest.
V. PROCESSES SHOULD LEAVE SOME TENDER AND HOPE-INSPIRING MEMORIES BEHIND THEM. "Fill an omer of it to be kept," etc.
VI. THE PROCESS WILL END. Are you ready?
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Clerical Library.In the anecdote books of our boyhood we used to be told the story of an Indian faquir who entered an Eastern palace and spread his bed in one of its antechambers, pretending that he had mistaken the building for a caravanserai or inn. The prince, amused by the oddity of the circumstance, ordered — so ran the tale — the man to be brought before him, and asked him how he came to make such a mistake. "What is an inn?" the faquir asked. "A place," was the reply, "where travellers rest a little while before proceeding on their journey." "Who dwelt here before you?" again asked the faquir. "My father," was the prince's reply. "And did he remain here?" "No," was the answer; "He died and went away." "And who dwelt here before him?" "His ancestors." "And did they remain here?" "No; they also died and went away." "Then," rejoined the faquir, "I have made no mistake, for your palace is but an inn after all." The faquir was right, Our houses are but inns, and the whole world a caravanserai.
(Little's "Historical Lights.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
That I may prove them.
I. THIS ACCOUNT OF THE END OF LIFE SIMPLIFIES MATTERS IN OUR JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE, The principle of trial as the end of life shoves aside a multiplicity of irrevelent ends to make way for the true one; it reduces the purpose of life to the greatest possible simplicity, reduces it, as we may say, to a unit — to the effect upon the individual himself, what he does and how he turns out under these circumstances. The idea of probation thus gives a singular unity to the whole design and plan of life. It throws the individual upon himself as the rational of the whole.
II. The principle of the end of life being probative applies mainly to all the ordinary external advantages of life and our pursuit of them; but it also affects another and less ordinary class of human objects — THE OBJECTS CONNECTED WITH THE GOOD OF OTHERS, THOSE USEFUL AND BENEVOLENT WORKS AND THOSE PUBLIC AND RELIGIOUS WORKS WHICH GOOD MEN PROPOSE TO THEMSELVES. There is one defect to which good men are liable: they become to much absorbed in the success of their own plans. The important truth for such men to realize is this very principle, viz., that of the end of life being trial. If they brought this truth home to themselves, they would see that the only important thing to them was, not that a useful undertaking should answer, but that they should have done faithfully their best for that purpose.
III. God makes use of us as His instruments, but THE WORK THAT WE DO AS INSTRUMENTS IS A FAR INFERIOR WORK TO THAT WHICH WE DO TO FULFIL OUR OWN PERSONAL TRIAL. The general end of life, as trial, is superior to all special ends; it is the end which concerns the individual being, his spiritual condition, his ultimate prospects.
(Prof. J. B. Mozley.)
I. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO SUPPLY OUR WANTS.
1. This provision was providential. God's hand directs the movements of the tiniest creatures in the universe. He clothes the grass, and paints the flower.
2. This provision was abundant. There was enough for each man, woman, and child.
(1) (2) (3) II. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO DEVELOP OUR ENERGIES. 1. The blessings of lifo must be secured by diligent application. "Go out and gather." No prize is beyond the reach of the earnest worker. 2. The blessings of life must be sought in a patient spirit. "A certain portion every day." We want to accumulate the treasures of life quickly, to provide in youth for age, and retire upon our gains. God does not forbid prudence, foresight; but He sometimes overturns our plans, and sends day by day our daily bread. To the anxious, fearful soul, He says, "Gather," "Trust." III. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO TEST OUR OBEDIENCE. "That I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no." God has many ways of testing the sincerity of His people. He proves them by poverty, affliction, persecution, and prosperity. He spreads our tables with dainties, and says, I will test their love, and liberality, and devotion. 1. The recipients of material possessions often hoard their wealth. Hoarded wealth never satisfies the possessor. It begets selfishness, fear, unrest, and disappointment. 2. The recipients of material possessions often squander their wealth. (J. T. Woodhouse.)
(2) (3) II. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO DEVELOP OUR ENERGIES. 1. The blessings of lifo must be secured by diligent application. "Go out and gather." No prize is beyond the reach of the earnest worker. 2. The blessings of life must be sought in a patient spirit. "A certain portion every day." We want to accumulate the treasures of life quickly, to provide in youth for age, and retire upon our gains. God does not forbid prudence, foresight; but He sometimes overturns our plans, and sends day by day our daily bread. To the anxious, fearful soul, He says, "Gather," "Trust." III. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO TEST OUR OBEDIENCE. "That I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no." God has many ways of testing the sincerity of His people. He proves them by poverty, affliction, persecution, and prosperity. He spreads our tables with dainties, and says, I will test their love, and liberality, and devotion. 1. The recipients of material possessions often hoard their wealth. Hoarded wealth never satisfies the possessor. It begets selfishness, fear, unrest, and disappointment. 2. The recipients of material possessions often squander their wealth. (J. T. Woodhouse.)
(3) II. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO DEVELOP OUR ENERGIES. 1. The blessings of lifo must be secured by diligent application. "Go out and gather." No prize is beyond the reach of the earnest worker. 2. The blessings of life must be sought in a patient spirit. "A certain portion every day." We want to accumulate the treasures of life quickly, to provide in youth for age, and retire upon our gains. God does not forbid prudence, foresight; but He sometimes overturns our plans, and sends day by day our daily bread. To the anxious, fearful soul, He says, "Gather," "Trust." III. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO TEST OUR OBEDIENCE. "That I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no." God has many ways of testing the sincerity of His people. He proves them by poverty, affliction, persecution, and prosperity. He spreads our tables with dainties, and says, I will test their love, and liberality, and devotion. 1. The recipients of material possessions often hoard their wealth. Hoarded wealth never satisfies the possessor. It begets selfishness, fear, unrest, and disappointment. 2. The recipients of material possessions often squander their wealth. (J. T. Woodhouse.)
II. PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN TO DEVELOP OUR ENERGIES.
2. The recipients of material possessions often squander their wealth.
(J. T. Woodhouse.)
us, for the same reason. He does so, not because of any good to Him, from our faith, except that the Infinite love loves infinitely to be loved. Bat for our sakes, that we may taste the peace and strength of continual dependence, and the joy of continual receiving. He could give us the principal down; but He prefers to pay us the interest as we need it. Christianity does not absolutely forbid laying up money or other resources for future wants. But the love of accumulating, which is so strong in many professing Christians, and the habit of amassing beyond all reasonable future wants, is surely scarcely permitted to those who profess to believe that incarnate wisdom forbade taking anxious care for the morrow, and sent its disciples to lilies and birds to learn the happy immunities of faith. We, too, get our daily mercies to prove us. The letter of the law for the manna is not applicable to us who gain our bread by God's blessing on our labour. But the spirit is, and the members of great commercial nations have surely little need to be reminded that still the portion put away is apt to breed worms. How often it vanishes I Or, if it lasts, tortures its owner, who has more trouble keeping it than he had in getting it; or fatally corrupts his own character, or ruins his children. All God's gifts are tests, which — thanks be to Him — is the same as to say that they are means of increasing faith, and so adding joy.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Manna.I. ITS MYSTIC CHARACTER. "What is this?" Christ was a mystery to His contemporaries. So is the Christian to his. "The world knoweth you not."
II. ITS USES. To save from starvation, famine, and death. Christ is "the Bread that cometh down from heaven."
1. The manna was for all.
2. The manna was for all, according to their wants — appetites. The Saviour is to us' just what we make Him to be. All fulness dwells in Him, infinite satisfaction; but we are straitened in ourselves, by our limited cravings, etc.
III. THE PRESCRIPTIONS ATTENDING IT.
1. To be gathered early.
2. To be gathered every morning. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength."
3. To be used.
4. To be gathered within six days. Life has its appointed time for salvation. If we allow the end of life's week to come without a store of God's manna, we shall find none in the future.
5. To be gathered for others — for those who could not go out themselves.
(F. R. Young.)
I. THE LORD DID DAILY AND AMPLY PROVIDE FOR HIS PEOPLE. The fact of abundant food is clear and indisputable. There is no hint, however, as to its immediate source or methods of distribution. A similar mystery veils the agencies through which we find our present necessities met. Here the natural and the supernatural seem to work together. The political economist makes them his study, and extremists undertake to tell exactly how the nations of the earth are kept alive. The farmer, manufacturer, artisan, carrier, trader, accountant, teacher, labouring with hand or head, or both — each furnishing just that without which the rest must languish — constitute a most complex problem. Laplace set himself at no such intricate task when attempting the solution of the solar system. We fall back on the conviction that while none can see the vast organism, or all the forces which are operative in it, yet it does move by an instinctive impulse under s beneficent direction whose secrets none can wrest, whose failure no one can imagine. The suspension of one class of labourers affects, more or less, every other. But to trace, or tell, the infinite processes through which every person in the land finds daily that which will maintain the body and restore its energies, as they are constantly spent, is beyond the ability of any mortal. Over all is He upon whom all eyes, though so blind, wait. Men call Him God, or Nature, or Chance, or Law, each term being somewhat of a cloak for their ignorance.
II. THE LORD REQUIRED EACH MAN TO PROVIDE FOR HIMSELF. The combined wisdom and efforts of men could not create a grain of corn. Yet each and all must gather for themselves. The increase will vary as occasions and necessities do. But how often has the world seen that they who would for their own selfish ends heap up their stores find to their surprise and horror that it breeds only loathsome and hateful forms of death! Capital, unscrupulously held and wielded, is becoming the terror even of its possessors. Vast fortunes have generally proved vast vexations, while Agur's prayer, "Give me neither poverty nor riches," etc., seems to have its happiest answer in the state of those who are most observant of these very precepts given to Israel. To idle, or hoard, or squander, or fret, is sin now as then.
III. THE LORD PUT SPECIAL HONOUR ON THE SEVENTH. Good doctrine still, neither abrogated nor superseded, ye buoy men in these days of railroads, and steamships, and telegraphs, and fast mails, and Sunday papers, and apoplectic fits! Feel you not the Almighty hand on these flying wheels, bringing them to pause? Will you say, we must work a few of these forbidden hours to gain reprieve for the rest? Will you make hay, or post accounts, or write your commercial letters, or draw out your plans for greater barns, or repair your machine, or set foot on the train, to be first at the market on the morrow? Thus you do but repeat their folly, who hoped to gather the needful food, but failed. Emptiness will fill all your omers when the results of such disobedience are weighed.
(De W. S. Clarke.)
I. THEY BROKE UP FROM THEIR ENCAMPMENT IN ELIM IN AN ENERVATED AND MURMURING MOOD. They had eaten of the fat of the wilderness and become wanton, and they began to lust even for the fat of Egypt, the slave's portion; the lot of the freeman already seemed too spare and hard. Wisely, indeed, was the wilderness appointed for our wanderings. Wisely was Adam sent forth into the land in which "in the sweat of his brow he must eat bread." Bread won more cheaply may fatten the body, but it sends "leanness into the soul." I never heard that money won by gambling or thieving brought a blessing with it to its possessor. Did you ever hear of speculation enriching either mind or heart? Money which comes cheaply goes cheaply, and leaves no benediction. God's inscription on His coin is "Labour." It is of another mintage when that impression cannot be traced.
II. THE FIRST STAGE OF THEIR JOURNEY BROUGHT THEM OUT INTO A VAST SANDY PLAIN, WHERE THERE WAS REAL DANGER, TO THE EYE OF SENSE, OF THEIR DYING OF HUNGER. Elim had re-heartened them after Marah. But the wilderness of Sin renewed their pains and terrors, and "the whole congregation of the Children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron." Their cry after the flesh-pots was the fruit of Elim. They had renewed there the blunt edge of their lust. The old appetites resumed their sway, as they sat by the waters and ate of their flocks; when they went forth their murmurs broke out with new fierceness, as of lust rekindled, and in spirit, at any rate, they gave themselves again to be slaves. Beware of rekindling the flame of a dying lust or appetite. Starve it — it is the only policy. Let it taste again, let it look again, it flushes up into full fever glow, and you are once more enslaved.
III. REPHIDIM WAS THE SCENE OF THEIR FIRST BATTLE AND THEIR FIRST VICTORY. In the first great act of the drama of deliverance, their duty had been simply to "Stand still and see the salvation of God." The hour was now come when they must "quit them like men and fight." Not otherwise is it in the Christian life. To rest on Christ, to "stand still and see His salvation," is the true deliverance of a spirit: this is redemption, But we must fight hard, as if the victory depended on ourselves — not for redemption, but as redeemed, if we would reap all its glorious fruits. The first foes of Israel were their kinsmen. "And a man's foes shall be those of his own house." But come whence they may, foes soon beset the young pilgrim: before he has gone far, a long day's battle will test his courage and strain his strength. Lusts and passions, which he thought he had slain for ever, stand forth alive, and renew the conflict. The Egyptians slain, new enemies throng around us. Our pilgrimage must be a war-march, with battlemusic and banners: "Jehovah nissi," ("the Lord my banner") we cry, and renew the fight.
(J. B. Brown, B. A.)
Homilist.I. THAT GOD'S PHYSICAL PROVIDENCE RECOGNIZES THE PERSONAL WANTS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL. Manna fell for each, babe and man; not one overlooked. Poverty is not the institution of heaven. The causes of poverty being with us, let us seek to remove them.
II. THAT THE ENJOYMENT OF GOD'S PHYSICAL PROVIDENCE DEPENDS ON TRUSTFUL LABOUR. Each was to gather for himself, and to gather no more than his portion for the day. Labour is necessary to give a relish and felt value to our blessings; and trust in God is necessary to exclude all anxious thought about the future.
III. THAT AN AVARICIOUS ACCUMULATION OF THE BLESSINGS OF PHYSICAL PROVIDENCE WILL DISAPPOINT THE POSSESSOR. Hoarded wealth never satisfies. It is noisome; it generates reptiles.
IV. THAT THE SEEKING OF THE BLESSINGS OF PHYSICAL PROVIDENCE SHOULD NEVER INTERFERE WITH RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS.
1. Religion does not require us to neglect the body.
2. Religion has special claims. It has to do with man's spiritual nature, relations, and interests.
Homilist.I. THE MANNA WAS A PROVISION FOR A GREAT EMERGENCY. "When we were yet without strength" — to do the true work of life, to prepare for death, to gain acceptance with God — "in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
II. THE MANNA COMES AS A MIRACULOUS INTERPOSITION.
III. THE MANNA CAME AS A UNIVERSAL SUPPLY.
1. In quantities commensurate with the wants of all.
2. Within reach of all.
IV. THE MANNA CAME WITH DIVINE DIRECTIONS. Gather for yourselves, and distribute to those who need help.
3. Regularly. Constancy is the condition of religious life and growth.
V. THE MANNA DEMANDED THE REMEMBRANCE OF POSTERITY (ver. 32). All God's interpositions on behalf of the fallen world are facts that shall be had in everlasting remembrance. For this purpose they are recorded in His Word. His interposition in Christ specially calls for our commemoration in the ordinance instituted for that purpose.
I. THE OCCASION FOR THE MANNA. The supplies brought from Egypt exhausted.
II. THE MORAL PURPOSES OF THE MANNA.
1. To test the people.
2. To give an indisputable proof of the reality of their deliverance from Egypt by God's own hand.
3. To show the unreasonableness of their murmurings.
III. THE TYPICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MANNA. Lessons:
1. This standing miracle of forty years' duration is an irrefragable proof of all the Bible assumes concerning the personality, love, and power of God.
2. It teaches the faithfulness and deep interest of our heavenly Father, in all His children.
3. The murmurings and loss of appetite for the manna on the part of the Israelites are fraught with lessons of deepest practical moment to us.
4. The constant dependence on Christ as the true Manna is clear and emphatic.
5. The memorial pot of manna in the ark is a type of the "hidden manna" laid up in heaven for the believer (Revelation 2:17).
(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
I. THE TEMPORAL ASPECT OF PROVIDENCE.
1. Providence is always timely in its assistance. Never too soon, never too late; never before the time, never after the time. Forgetting this, we bring upon ourselves no end of trouble by being over-anxious for the morrow.
2. Providence is always ample in its resources. There were many mouths to be filled and voracious appetites to be satisfied, and yet we have not heard that the supply failed for a single morning. You remember reading in the account of the Franco-Prussian war, that the army of Napoleon
III. loitered for days on the banks of the Rhine, when they ought to have advanced into the heart of Germany. What was the cause of this fatal delay? Want of provision; the commissariat was inadequate to supply the demands of three hundred thousand soldiers, and at Sedan the campaign proved disastrous to the empire. "He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly... bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." Providence is conditional in its method of support. God rained down manna from heaven in small grain, like coriander seed, not in ready-made loaves. "Society," says Emerson, "expects every man to find his own loaf." God expects it too.
II. THE SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF PROVIDENCE. "See that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days."
1. Its value as a day of rest for the body is very great.
2. Its importance as a day for spiritual contemplation and holy delight is incalculable.
III. THE HISTORICAL ASPECT OF PROVIDENCE. "This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness."
1. The omer full of manna was meant to teach coming generations the greatness of God's power and the faithfulness of His promise. "Power belongeth unto God" as it belongeth to no other being, because it is absolute and independent. This is what makes His promises "exceeding great and precious," that He has abundance of resources to make good His word to man.
2. The omer full of manna was meant to teach coming generations the evil of hoarding up covetously the bounties of Providence.
(W. A. Griffiths.)
British Weekly.The manna was a type of Christ.
I. AS THE MANNA WAS A SPECIAL MERCY TO THE ISRAELITES IN THEIR EXTREMITY, SO THE SAVIOUR IS GOD'S SPECIAL GIFT TO SINFUL MEN.
II. AS THE DIVINE GIFT OF THE MANNA APPEARED IN THE GARB OF EXTREME SIMPLICITY, SO THE LIFE OF THE SAVIOUR IS EMBODIED IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE, THROUGH WHICH HE BECOMES OUR LIFE.
III. AS THE MANNA WAS PROPORTIONED IN DAILY RATIONS, SO WE MUST HAVE COMMUNION WITH CHRIST EVERY DAY. Religious exercises are framed to recur. Thoughts of Jesus and communion with God cannot be stored; they must be repeated.
IV. THE MANNA WAS IN PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE AFTER THEY ENTERED CANAAN, SO JESUS AND HIS CROSS WILL BE THE THEME OF ETERNITY. The manna was placed in the golden pot, and put, with the ark, in the most holy place, when they began to live on the old corn of the land. The daily gathering was over, and the journey, but the remembrance remained. Faith must make way to sight. Grand sight! We shall not forget Calvary. The scenes with Jesus must remain.
I. DIVINE CARE.
1. Anticipating human need. He was before them in the way'; to turn "the barren wilderness" into "a fruitful field."
2. Providing a suitable supply.
(1) (2) (3) 4. Watching over spiritual interests in meeting physical need. The Sabbath guarded. Both body and soul eared for; and at the same time. II. HUMAN DUTY. 1. To expect. Eyes of all wait on Him. The manna to be looked for. We are to expect that God will supply our wants. He has promised to do so. 2. To collect. This work might have been saved them. It had its use. Some collect for others. Young for aged, etc. All secular labour in fields or factories, but a collecting of the good gifts of God. So is prayer, study of the Bible, etc. 3. To economize. None to bewasted. Those who had gathered less were to be supplied out of another's abundance. A wise distribution of our good things is true economy. Sowing for eternity. III. SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION. The manna a type of Christ. So Jesus Himself regarded it (John 6.). It was so — 1. Because unexpected in its coming. 2. Came in time of great need. 3. Unostentatious in its form. 4. Pleasant to the taste. 5. Spread silently over the ground. 6. Lasted all the journey through. 7. The remembrance of it treasured for ever. 8. Mysterious in nature.What is it? Compare with "Who is He?" "Great is the mystery of godliness," etc. While curious minds are trying to understand a mystery into which angels desire to look, let our exhortation be, "O taste and see that the Lord is good," etc. Learn — I. To trust in the care of Providence. II. To act in harmony with Providence. III. To seek the true Bread of Life. (J. C. Gray.)
(2) (3) 4. Watching over spiritual interests in meeting physical need. The Sabbath guarded. Both body and soul eared for; and at the same time. II. HUMAN DUTY. 1. To expect. Eyes of all wait on Him. The manna to be looked for. We are to expect that God will supply our wants. He has promised to do so. 2. To collect. This work might have been saved them. It had its use. Some collect for others. Young for aged, etc. All secular labour in fields or factories, but a collecting of the good gifts of God. So is prayer, study of the Bible, etc. 3. To economize. None to bewasted. Those who had gathered less were to be supplied out of another's abundance. A wise distribution of our good things is true economy. Sowing for eternity. III. SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION. The manna a type of Christ. So Jesus Himself regarded it (John 6.). It was so — 1. Because unexpected in its coming. 2. Came in time of great need. 3. Unostentatious in its form. 4. Pleasant to the taste. 5. Spread silently over the ground. 6. Lasted all the journey through. 7. The remembrance of it treasured for ever. 8. Mysterious in nature.What is it? Compare with "Who is He?" "Great is the mystery of godliness," etc. While curious minds are trying to understand a mystery into which angels desire to look, let our exhortation be, "O taste and see that the Lord is good," etc. Learn — I. To trust in the care of Providence. II. To act in harmony with Providence. III. To seek the true Bread of Life. (J. C. Gray.)
(3) 4. Watching over spiritual interests in meeting physical need. The Sabbath guarded. Both body and soul eared for; and at the same time. II. HUMAN DUTY. 1. To expect. Eyes of all wait on Him. The manna to be looked for. We are to expect that God will supply our wants. He has promised to do so. 2. To collect. This work might have been saved them. It had its use. Some collect for others. Young for aged, etc. All secular labour in fields or factories, but a collecting of the good gifts of God. So is prayer, study of the Bible, etc. 3. To economize. None to bewasted. Those who had gathered less were to be supplied out of another's abundance. A wise distribution of our good things is true economy. Sowing for eternity. III. SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION. The manna a type of Christ. So Jesus Himself regarded it (John 6.). It was so — 1. Because unexpected in its coming. 2. Came in time of great need. 3. Unostentatious in its form. 4. Pleasant to the taste. 5. Spread silently over the ground. 6. Lasted all the journey through. 7. The remembrance of it treasured for ever. 8. Mysterious in nature.What is it? Compare with "Who is He?" "Great is the mystery of godliness," etc. While curious minds are trying to understand a mystery into which angels desire to look, let our exhortation be, "O taste and see that the Lord is good," etc. Learn — I. To trust in the care of Providence. II. To act in harmony with Providence. III. To seek the true Bread of Life. (J. C. Gray.)
II. HUMAN DUTY.
1. Because unexpected in its coming.
2. Came in time of great need.
3. Unostentatious in its form.
4. Pleasant to the taste.
5. Spread silently over the ground.
6. Lasted all the journey through.
7. The remembrance of it treasured for ever.
I. To trust in the care of Providence.
II. To act in harmony with Providence.
III. To seek the true Bread of Life.
(J. C. Gray.)
1. It was given in consideration of a great and urgent necessity. A like necessity lies at the foundation of God's gift of His Son to the world; it was not possible in the nature of things for any other resource to be found.
2. The manna was peculiarly the gift of God, coming freely and directly from His hand. How striking a representation in this respect of Christ all Scripture may be said to testify, as both in His person and in the purchased blessings of His redemption He is always presented to sinful men as the free gift of the Father's love.
3. The whole fulness of the Godhead is in Jesus, so that all may receive as their necessities require. So was it also with the manna; there was enough for all.
4. Then, falling as it did round about the camp, it was near enough to be within the reach of all; if any should perish for want, it could be from no outward necessity or hardship, for the means of supply were brought almost to their very hand. Nor is it otherwise in regard to Christ, who in the gospel of His grace is laid, in a manner, at the very door of every sinner; the word is nigh him; and if he should still parish, he must be without excuse — it is in sight of the Bread of Life.
5. The supply of manna came daily, and faith had to be exercised on the providence of God, that each day would bring its appointed provision; if they attempted to hoard for the morrow, their store became a mass of corruption. In like manner must the child of God pray for his soul every morning as it dawns, "Give me this day my daily bread." He can lay up no stock of grace which is to last him for a continuance without needing to repair to the treasury of Christ.
6. Finally, as the manna had to be gathered in the morning of each day, and a double portion provided on the sixth day, that the seventh might be hallowed as a day of sacred rest, so Christ and the things of His salvation must be sought with diligence and regularity, but only in the appointed way and through the divinely-provided channels.
(A. Nevin, D. D.)
I. THE BACKWARD LOOK OF THIS BIT OF HISTORY. Culminating point of a fit of murmuring. Shows sin and folly of persistent distrust.
1. Murmuring is a most unprofitable state of mind. Never did anybody any good. Source of all Israelites' troubles. Once a child was reading, apparently absorbed in the act: her parent asked what was the book; and looking up, she answered, with a sudden overflow of tears, "Oh father, the people have begun to murmur again, and now God will have to punish them some more!"
2. Murmuring is a most delusive disposition. It leads to dangerous self-deception in almost all instances. Christians reply to those who attempt to rebuke them, "It is my temperament." Often mere habit. Should be checked.
3. Murmuring is a most unwelcome indulgence. It prejudices piety. Makes a Christian disagreeable.
4. Murmuring is a growing sin in the heart. Israelites — sullen at first — now suspicious. They openly find fault.
5. Murmuring is contagious, and propagates itself far and wide.
II. THE PRESENT APPEARANCE OF THIS BIT OF HISTORY.
1. Man's perversity. Little vexations make us petulant and revengeful.
2. God's patience. Lord Bacon quotes an old Spanish writer as saying: "To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; but to return good for evil is even godlike." Certainly this is what our God often does; but it would not do for any of us to presume upon such wonderful long-suffering. In ancient history we are told that there was once a statue of Jupiter erected at Crete; but the Cretans were liars, and the maker of the stone image had fashioned it without ears. The exultant people may have been pleased to think they had a god who could not hear their falsehoods; but they soon found that a deity who had no ears to hear prevarications had no ears to hear prayers either. We must remember that our God knows all our wickedness, and bears with us for a while; but it is to test our obedience to His law.
3. Heaven's sufficiency is also illustrated here. For in the story the promise takes a very significant and beautiful form; God says He will "rain bread from heaven" for their need (see Psalm 78:22-25; Philippians 4:19).
III. THE FORWARD REACH OF THIS BIT OF HISTORY.
1. It was designed to be a type of Christ.(1) It came down to earth from heaven, as He did.(2) Every man must take of it for himself as he would need to take his own food.(3) It would work an individual experience of the new life; the book of Wisdom says that in the day of it the manna tasted to every one as he pleased.(4) It was free and sufficient for all: the rich and the poor, the sick and the well, the young and the old.(5) It must be sought not once for all, but daily.(6) It must be eaten; it must become part of one's self.(7) It was exclusive: there was no other food so safe in the desert.(8) It would cease only when no longer needed.
2. It was accepted as a type by our Lord Jesus Christ (see John 6.).
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Tamarix gallica), gathered in June. According to Burckhardt, "it drops from the thorns on the sticks and leaves with which the ground is covered, and must be gathered early in the day or it will be melted by the sun. The Arabs cleanse and boil it, strain it through a cloth, and put it in leather bottles; and in this way it can be kept uninjured for several years. They use it like honey or butter with their unleavened bread, but never make it into cakes or eat it by itself. It abounds only in very wet years, and in dry seasons it sometimes disappears entirely." The same traveller found in the valley of Jordan "manna like gum on the leaves and branches of the tree gharrob, which is as large as the olive-tree, having a leaf like the poplar, though somewhat broader. It appears like dew upon the leaves, is of a brown or grey colour, and drops on the ground. When first gathered it is sweet, but in a day or two becomes acid. The Arabs use it like honey or butter, and eat it in their oatmeal gruel. They also use it in cleaning their leather bottles and making them air-tight. Tim season for gathering this is in May or June. Two other shrubs which have been supposed to yield the manna of Scripture are the Alhagi maurorum, or Persian manna, and the Alhagi desertorum, thorny plants common in Syria." In addition to what has been said of the miraculous nature of the manna supply and the character of the natural products just specified, a brief reference to three explanations of the manna may be in place.
1. It is said to be miraculous food, that is, dew changed into bread. "The dew of heaven" promotes the fertility of the earth. During the wanderings of Israel through the wilderness, which is "no place of seed," the dew, without sowing, brought bread from heaven (ver. 4; Psalm 78:24; Psalm 105:40). So that the manna answers to the wine at the marriage of Cana.
2. The manna is the same food of the. desert still found in the peninsula of Sinai. This, of course, lands us in the region of mythical embellishment, and requires a degree of credulity which the writer does not possess.
3. The manna is a miracle of accretion, answering to the miraculous feeding of the multitude in the New Testament, and to the increase of meal and oil by Elijah in the Old.
(J. I. Mombert, D. D.)
1. The tarfa exudes only small quantities. The Arabs could not live on it for a week.
2. The tarfa only exudes at certain seasons — March and April.
3. The tarfa does not yield its exudation regularly, even once a year.
4. The exudations of the tarfa come out from the branches of the tree, they do not come down from the air or sky.
5. The tarfa exudations are in composition and consistency somewhat like honey. They are quite unfit for grinding, or pounding, or baking, or boiling.
6. The taste of manna is said to have been as fresh oil (Numbers 11:8). No one who has tasted the tarfa-manna would compare it to oil.
7. The tarfa-manna does not stink, or breed worms, in a single night.
8. The tarfa-produce does not evaporate as soon as the sun arises (ver. 21).
9. Tarfa-manna does not give particular quantities on particular days.
10. The tarfamanna is purgative medicine, not food.
11. The Israelites knew well the tarfatree, but they did not recognize the manna.
12. Israel could not have subsisted so long on this one food.
Micah 5:7; Isaiah 18:4; Hosea 14:5). When, on a summer's morning, we walk forth in a beautiful country, the red light of the early dawn tinging the whole eastern horizon with golden splendour, a holy quiet reigning round, not broken, but charmed and enriched with the thrilling songs of the birds, while every leaf, blade, hedgerow, and flower are gemmed with pearly dew glittering like diamonds in the sun's new beams, there is an image of the soul — calmed, illuminated, and blessed with the truth of peace. But after the dew we come to the manna — the substantial food which gave so much pleasure and so much support. When it is seen that solid food in Divine language corresponds to goodness, which supplies the will of every one who is living for heaven with energy and delight, and remember that this manna was given to supply food to the Israelites while they were in the transition period between living in Egypt and living in Canaan, we shall easily perceive that it is the symbol of that heavenly goodness which the Lord can impart to the soul of man while it is in the transition state, labouring to become regenerate, following the truth, fighting against its evils as they from time to time present themselves, but not yet entered into that phase of the spiritual life in which he feels at home in heavenly things. Hence the manna describes the goodness and the delight which the Divine mercy imparts to man while labouring to become regenerate. It is small, because, as compared with true angelic joy, it is of little account. It is round, because roundness expresses the smoothness, and also the completeness, of goodness, as compared with truth — truth is ever sharp and piercing. It is white, to denote its purity, and sweet, to express its deliciousness. It is like a thin cake, or wafer, to mark its inferiority, its shallowness, so to speak, when compared with true celestial joy. Yet feeble as it is, so far does it transcend all merely human and external joy, that when it is first truly awakened in the soul, all other delights in the estimation of the possessor become as nothing, and he cries out in the spirit, "What is this?" — for he knows not what it is. It is a state of peace, of richness, of sweetness that passeth all understanding. It may be felt, but cannot be described. It is as if every fibre of the soul thrilled with joy. It is blessedness unspeakable. All other delights seem now unutterably poor. They are as the lights of earth in the presence of the sun. By receiving each day the food for the day, and no more, the important lesson is conveyed that we should ever be guided in our wish to receive heavenly blessings not by the desire of selfish gratification, but by the love of use. So much as we need for our work, so much should we desire to receive. Seek food for use and delight will be given in. Seek it also for the duties of to-day. The only way to make any advance in heavenly things is to do our duty now. The good not used now will vanish when the sun of selfishness becomes vigorous within us. If we attempt to save it for the future, and to deceive ourselves with the good we will some day do, it will breed the worms of vain conceits, flattering and false, It may become polluted hypocrisy, most abhorrent in the sight of God and angels, but can never be saving good. The lesson involved in the corruption of the manna in the hands of those who gathered to hoard and not to use is of inestimable value. To be a miser is bad in earthly things, but far worse in heavenly. And it is to be feared that spiritual hoarding is even more prevalent than natural. How many sermons do we hear with delight, but whose influence goes no farther than to stock our memories! How many good books do we read whose pages unfold to us exalted lessons and truths of sterling worth! We hear, we read, and we admire, but our hearts remain as cold, heedless, and unpractical as before. We are no better, we admit; but we do not suspect what is the real truth — that we are worse. The manna we are hoping to preserve for future use is becoming corrupted and defiled. We are gliding into states of self-dependency, self-complacency, self-flattery. We are supposing we are righteous, or, at least, in no danger, because we know righteous things, while with every effort we make we are strengthening our inherent evils, our hereditary tendencies. We are not searching out our frailties and opposing them, but indulging them and salving them over with our religious knowledge and pious observances. The richest substances become, when corrupted, the most loathsome; and nothing is so abhorrent in the Divine sight as a religion unused for good, pandering only to self-gratulation and deceit. Our whole progress depends on eating to-day what God gives to-day. The same lesson would teach us also the duty of doing as it comes the work of each successive stage of our business of life and the reception of its proper and present blessing. "Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man. Let no man leave it until the morning" (vers. 16, 19). One exception to this rule, however, there was (ver. 29). Days for the soul are states. The six days of labour represent the states of the soul in which it is striving to obey a truth, although as yet it is laborious to do so in consequence of oppositions within and without. The sixth day is the end of this struggle, when the soul has succeeded in realizing not only the truth of a duty or a principle but also the good, the blessedness of it. Two omers are then received, the bread of two days. One more incident we would notice. The manna was gathered by an omer full at once, and no otherwise; and we are informed at the conclusion of the narrative, "Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah" (ver. 36). There were three chief measures for dry articles, each ten times larger than the other — the omer, the ephah, and the homer (Ezekiel 45:11). These three measures, like the three kinds of bread of the tabernacle — the loaf, the cake, and the wafer — we may readily conceive, have relation to the reception of heavenly good by the three grand classes of Christians who form afterwards the three heavens of the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:2). The good which they receive who have entered fully into love to the Lord as the supreme source of all their operations is of the largest measure, the homer. The good of those who glory rather in the light than the love of heaven, though they are true to the light and sons of the light, is of the second measure, the ephah. The good of those who are not even intellectual Christians, but still steadily obey what they see to be enjoined in the Word, is the lowest measure, the omer, which is the tenth part of the ephah. And this is the measure by which we all receive heavenly good in our spiritual journey. Our law of duty is to obey the Ten Commandments. Each commandment obeyed brings its omer of blessing.
(J. Bailey, Ph. D.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Thus both were the free, unsolicited gift of heaven, prompted by the sight of man's helplessness and man's misery. "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven," saith our Lord; "but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." But observe, the gift in either case was the unmerited bestowment of the Eternal Father; whether to nourish the physical life of those wilderness wanderers or to support the spiritual life of believers to the end of time. Jesus Christ is a gift, the eternal life is a gift, enlightening, converting grace is a gift. Human efforts could no more avail to procure these things than the sowing of coriander seed could produce a harvest of manna.
2. Again, this gift was to preserve life. "Ye have brought us forth into the wilderness," said the Israelites to Moses, "to kill this whole assembly with hunger." They saw nothing before them but certain death. The place was desert; a curse of barrenness and drought laid upon it. The whole is a picture of man in this wilderness-world. His soul perishes with hunger; he has the sentence of death within him, a prospect of death before him. But God has rained bread from heaven. Christ, the Wellspring of all spiritual life; Christ, the Source of every active and passive grace; Christ, the energizing Principle of all acceptable obedience. "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead." It saved them not from the common lot of all men, this bread ye boast of, but "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this Bread he shall live for ever."
3. Trace this parallel further, in the universality of the gift. There were in that wilderness all diversities of character — masters and disciples, owners of flocks and keepers of flocks; rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, and rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: yet to all was to be given the same portion, "an omer to every man, according to the number in their tents." And in like manner, as far as concerns the offer of the blessing, Christ is a universal portion.
(D. Moore, M. A.)
(Gleanings in Harvest Fields.)
J. R. Green's Short History."Never did man die of hunger who served God faithfully," was a saying of Cuthbert, the apostle of Northumbria, when he and his companions were overtaken by night without food or shelter. "Look at the eagle overhead," he would add; "God can feed us through him if He will." And this faith was on one occasion signally justified by the bird in question letting fall a fish, which furnished the needed meal.
(J. R. Green's Short History.)
Gather of it every man according to his eating.this day our daily bread." We are to get out of to-day all we can, and trust God for to-morrow. We possess only what we can assimilate, so the miracle does no more than provide for one day. You say that you possess property. No; another may more truly possess it. I who tarry by your garden, or the beggar who feasts upon its beauty with appreciating and admiring eyes, gets more out of it than you. You hurry away to business early in the morning, and are gone till dark, too burdened, it may be, to give it a glance. So with your library or pictures. He possesses who assimilates. If your wealth makes you anxious, or leads you to dissipation, then you possess not wealth, but anxiety and disease. You may give your child wealth, but it is better to put moral wealth into mind and heart than to burden down with money, which may sink his soul in ruin. So with books and associates. We grow by what we eat. What does that child read? Who are his friends? We really eat both. Christ used this figure, and said we were to eat His flesh and drink His blood. This means the assimilation of spiritual forces, the incorporation of His life and character as we grow to be like those we make our bosom friends. Our character is warped, shrivelled, and weakened, or it is enriched and ennobled by those with whom we habitually and intimately live, as they are mean and wicked, or pure and princely.
(E. Braislin, D. D.)
1. Prudence and diligence in providing food convenient for ourselves and our households; what God graciously gives we must industriously gather, with quietness working, and eating our own bread, not the bread either of idleness or deceit. God's bounty leaves room for man's duty.
2. Contentment and satisfaction with a sufficiency; they must gather, "every man according to his eating"; enough is as good as a feast, and more than enough is as bad as a surfeit. They that have most have for themselves but food and raiment and mirth; and they that have least generally have these; so that "he who gathers much," etc. There is not so great a disproportion between one and another, in the comforts and enjoyments of the things of this life, as there is in the property and possession of the things themselves.
3. Dependence upon Providence. "Let no man leave till morning" (ver. 19), but let them learn to go to bed and sleep quietly, though they have not a bit of bread in their tent, nor in all their camp, trusting that God, with the following day, will bring them their daily bread. It was surer and safer in God's storehouse than in their own, and would thence come to them sweeter and fresher.
( M. Henry, D. D..)
Family Treasury."I once had occasion to speak of a certain charity to a prosperous mechanic. He seemed not much inclined to help it, but after listening to my representations awhile, he suddenly gave way and promised a handsome subscription. In due time he paid it cheerfully, and said, "Do you know what carried the point with me that day when you made the application?" "No," I replied. "Well, I'll tell you. I was not so much moved by anything you said till you came to mention the fact about the Israelites, 'He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.' Thinks I, that is just my own history. Once I was a poor, hard-working young man; now I've got a good deal of property, but as for real comfort and use, I get no more out of it now than I did then. Now, when I gather much, I've nothing over, and then, when I gathered little, I had no lack."
To-day ye shall not find it in the field.I. THAT MEN MUST NOT ENGAGE IN SECULAR TOIL ON THE SABBATH. Men must not even earn their daily bread on the Lord's day, — they must provide it before.
II. THAT MEN ENGAGED IN SECULAR TOIL ON THE SABBATH WILL, AS A RULE, FIND THEIR LABOUR VAIN AND PROFITLESS.
III. THAT MEN ENGAGED IN SECULAR TOIL ON THE SABBATH SHOW PLAINLY THAT THEY HAVE NO REGARD FOR THE COMMANDS OF GOD. They are selling their souls for gain.
IV. THAT MEN ENGAGED IN SECULAR TOIL ON THE SABBATH HAVE NO DELIGHT IN THE CULTURE OF THEIR MORAL NATURE. It is especially on the day of rest that men of secular toil have the leisure and opportunity for soul-culture, by inward meditation, by earnest devotion, by wise reading, and by the ministry of the sanctuary.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(T. E. Ball.)
(S. Robinson, D. D.)
(A. M. Weston, D. D.)
( A. Clarke, D. D..)
Christian Herald.A delicate man, once a ringleader in all sorts of mischief, was recently found by some of the Mildmay Deaconesses in a common London lodging-house, and as it was discovered that the poor fellow could not work continuously at his trade, he was started in business in a small shop. Late one Saturday night, as many, through curiosity, or seeing the contents of the shop looking fresh and new, filled it up, and were asking one question and another, one woman said: "Here is 4d.; I'll come in to-morrow with the other few pence, and you will give me the parcel then." "This shop will never be open for traffic on the Lord's Day," was the answer, at which announcement the people all turned to gaze at the speaker. A quiet look of firm resolve was on his delicate face, which seemed to make the crowd silent for a minute or two; then one laughed, and said: "Are you religious?" "Yes," said the proprietor; "I may as well declare it from the very first night of opening. You will never, with God's help, see either buying or selling here on Sundays." "Oh!" said a scoffer; "then you will soon shut shop." The owner of the shop replied: "Do you see that little card with the blue ribbon tying it up?" The eyes of all were turned towards the card, on which were the words, "Kept by the power of God." "This," continued the speaker, "is my motto; He is able to keep me, and maybe some of you will find out 'tis better to have Him as a friend than any one in the world."
Put an omer full of manna therein.I. BY WHOM THE MEMORIAL WAS ENJOINED. "The Lord." We have need to set up memorials in our lives which shall call upon our souls to remember the benefits of the Lord. It is the will of heaven that its gifts should be held in constant remembrance.
II. IN WHAT THE MEMORIAL CONSISTED. "Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations."
1. This memorial was reasonable.
4. Valuable. Golden pot (Hebrews 9:2).And the memorials of the soul should not find expression in valueless things, but in the richest treasures of man. God is worthy our best offerings.
III. WHERE THE MEMORIAL WAS DEPOSITED. "And lay it up before the Lord." "So Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept." And so this memorial was laid up before the Lord, in the ark of the covenant. Thus we must keep the memorials of the soul in devout spirit, and with a constant trust in the mediatorial work of Christ.
IV. THE DESIGN THE MEMORIAL CONTEMPLATED. "That ye may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness." "To be kept for your generations." Each generation leaves a moral deposit behind it, for good or evil. Lessons:
1. The soul must have a memorial of the Divine mercy.
2. The memorial of the soul must consist of the best thing it possesses.
3. The memorial of the soul will have respect to the redemptive work of Christ.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(H. O. Mackey.)