“It is Manna.” Exodus 16:15
Food was provided for the chosen tribes, unseen before by human eye, untouched before by human hand. ‘They knew not what it was.’ Reader! when here the Manna is presented to your view, I hope it comes as a familiar thought. It is faith’s way to lay it up in memory’s ark, as the rich emblem of Salvation’s feast.
Manna has many tongues. But its first sound proclaims, that God is gracious. Mark the occasion of these showers of bread. Hunger pressed sore upon the journeying host, and pressed vile murmurs from their fretful hearts. The deep-toned mutters reached the courts on high. Will the swift lightning check rebellious madness? Oh, no! The Lord is full of pity, and delights in love. He opens heaven to pour down supplies. The supply is a miracle. The miracle is a wreath of combined wonders. Each wonder is a rich display of Jesus, and teaches now, as clearly as it fed of old. Thus God puts on a diadem of grace, and crowns the thankless with most tender mercies.
But goodness in bestowing food is mere candle-grace beside the bright shinings of redemption’s gift. They who would see grace in its zenith must trace it in the Gospel-scheme. When the whole family of man, in Adam’s loins, stood before God, lost, ruined, and undone—one leprous mass of misery and sin—shameless, tearless, prayerless—mercy took up the song, and promised that a Savior should descend, even an incarnate God! Reader! your heart is rock indeed, if you hear this, and give no praises to Jehovah’s grace.
It was all dark around, when this soft shower reached our earth. We read, ‘When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the Manna fell upon it.’ In like manner, spiritual blindness was the world’s thick shroud when Jesus came, distilling blessing from His wings. So when His gentle droppings first touch the sinner’s heart, He finds it a black mass of midnight gloom.
When morning came, the dew dissolved and left the Manna obvious to the sight. Thus for a while Jesus lies hidden in the Word, … which fall in thick and sparkling abundance around our homes. It is not until the Sun of Righteousness arises, that the real treasure is discerned. Then unsubstantial privileges fade off, and Christ remains the whole of soul-support. Reader! the dew was a fit mantle for this heaven-sent food
The Manna was small, and round, and white, and sweet. Each property tells much of Jesus’s worth into the ear of faith.
It was small. It lay a little seed upon the bare earth. Pride would take up a ready sneer. Can this simple mite proceed from heaven’s store? Jesus appears. No royal state surrounds. No royal home receives. No royal retinue attends. In lowly guise, He appears as the lowliest of lowly men. His highest station upon earth is in humility’s deep valley. But meekness is His Majesty. Abasement is His Glory. Believer, He puts on your flesh, that He may clothe you in His brightest glory. He sinks to nothingness, to exalt you above all greatness. He lives and dies in shame, contempt, and pain, that you may reign in all the honors of the highest heavens. Your blessings bud forth from His despicable estate.
The Manna was round. The hand which handled found no first and no last point. It was a surface without beginning, without end. Behold the wondrous Jesus. Who can ascend to the spring-head of His birth? Who can stretch forward to the boundary of His life? Who can discern a limit in the circles upon circles of His being? Look through the ages of eternity past. In all He lives unchanged, unchangeable. Look through the ages of eternity to come. He still lives unchanged, unchangeable. Believer, is not this thought an ocean of delight, as wide as the breadth and length of your Savior’s love? He never was, but with your image on His heart. And while He lives, your image will be there.
The Manna was white. It covered the mire of earth, a bright contrast to surrounding stains. Its spotless hue proved its descent to be from a pure home. Turn now to Jesus. His every look and word and step are as dazzling, as the holiness of heaven. He was the Righteousness of God embodied in the flesh of man. He trod this earth, as perfect as God is perfect. He ever shined untainted, as the beam from the mid-day sun. It could not be otherwise. Deity forbade anything else. Impossibility of sin is Jehovah’s essence. It must be so. Redemption needed it. He who would save a soul from sin must give the offering of a sinless soul. Reader! would you be blameless before God? Put on Christ Jesus.
The Manna was sweet. The palate tasted, and delighted in the luscious savor. It nourished, and the nourishment brought pleasure to the lips. This is the Savior’s emblem. He is all sweetness to the feasting soul. Is it not heaven’s own luxury to feed upon divine assurances that all sins are fully and forever pardoned—all guilt fully and forever cancelled—all debts fully and forever paid—all pledges of glory faithfully and forever pledged? Is it not sweet to gaze with open eye on a reconciled Father’s smile—to receive unmeasured comfort, instruction, strength, and guidance from the indwelling Spirit—to realize, that ministering angels encamp around—that holy men love us, evil men serve us, and all things present and to come are our sure heritage? Jesus is this sweet Manna! Is it not sweet to be regaled all day at such a banquet, to repose all night on such a pillow, to walk through life in such green pastures? This is the believer’s Manna. Worldling, is your meal thus sweet?
Each day the multitude was busy in the field. The constant food fell thick, the constant hand collected. O my soul, let gathering be your daily work. Time is prolonged, that you may thrive. And what is thriving, but to gain more truth? The worldling toils a life-long drudgery in gleaning mere husks! Can you sit still, when Christ is to be won? Believe me—that is your richest day which accumulates the most of Jesus. Your best, without Him, is an empty blank.
They went forth early. The sun’s first beams illumined them to their happy task. Here mark, how morning diligence succeeds. It is the truest wisdom, the surest peace, the largest profit, when opening day finds you with open heart before the mercy-seat, with open lip adoring God, with open Bible seeking the Lord. The arrow long retains the first direction of the hand that propels it. The vessel rarely loses the savor of its first contents. The day-break blessing is a day-long gain. Let Jesus draw back your morning-curtain, and He will sanctify the mid-day labor, and lull you to the night’s repose.
Perhaps some youthful eye is resting on this page. Beloved, turn not from a wise entreaty. Give to the Lord the first fruits of your being. He is worthy, for He is all worthiness. Apart from Him, you must be lost. In Him you shall be saved. All is a wilderness of woe without Him. All is a Paradise of joy with Him.
For every hand there was exact sufficiency. ‘by gathering two quarts for each person, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.’ Infinite are each poor sinner’s sins; and each sin has infinite demerit! Boundless is the unrighteousness of every soul, boundless the covering which is needed. Countless are the needs which cry for countless helps. But he who lives bathing in a Savior’s blood, and suing out a Savior’s righteousness, and wrestling for a Savior’s grace, will never say that the blood, the righteousness, the grace, exceed his daily need. He gets enough, but he has nothing to spare.
He, also, who flees at the last, and only touches with a trembling hand the extremest edge of Jesus’s robe, if it be but the touch of heaven-born faith, receives full pardon and eternal life. A crumb of Jesus’s merits is the saving of the soul forever!
The daily food was only for that same day. To hoard was to distrust the daily-giving hand. If kept until the next day, it became corruption, to be buried out of sight. So, also, in grace, the present handful is for present use! The morrow’s necessity will have the morrow’s shower. Away with chilly fears. The Manna came as surely as the light. Jesus never fails to pour His plenties down. Trade, then, with the present stock. The worst of cases is the case of grace misused. The buried talent cries with condemning voice. Christ not diffused, is Christ misused. Treasure is not enjoyed, until it be well employed. He is most rich, who most enriches others.
For every state and age, the Manna was the one remedy. There is only one dreadful plague. There is only one precious cure. The highest palace and the humblest cot; the lettered hall and the unlettered cabin; the aged bed, the cradle of the young; all alike are tainted with one leprous spot. One only remedy meets the one malady—the remedy of the life and death of Christ.
The Manna came not through man’s toil. But still it came not to encourage sloth. Active labor must grind and sweeten for the use. Faith labors all the day to draw out sweetness from the Gospel-page. With skillful care it sifts each word. With anxious appetite it sucks the sweet.
The Manna preaches, also, with wisdom’s voice. It cries, Keep holy the Sabbath-day. It comes from heaven, therefore it proclaims God’s law. It comes to be a blessing, therefore it points to obedience as the path. When will man’s blindness learn that there is no profit, and no peace, but in the ways and will of God?
The Manna sustained the body for a little while. But it was weak to blunt the shafts of death. In the wilderness they ate and died. But Christ gives endless life to each partaking soul. Reader! drink in the tidings, ‘I am the living bread, which came down from heaven—if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever—and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’
Lord, increase my faith! Help me to see in Your broken body, all that I need for strength, for vigor, and for joy of heart. The more we crave, the more we get. The more we get, the more we crave.
The Manna lasted through the wilderness-march. Thus Jesus is an enduring supply for all life’s weary way. And when time’s crumbs are no more needed, eternity’s full feast begins. Sweet is the present taste of grace—but what will be the heavenly feast? My soul, press onward—and you soon will know!