2332. Lessons From The Manna

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No. 2332-39:517. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, September 12, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, October 29, 1893.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, so that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.” {Ex 16:4}

1. It seems to us that it must have been a very difficult thing to supply food for the hundreds of thousands, I shall not be incorrect if I say the millions, who were in the wilderness; but, difficult as that was, the commissariat {a} was not so difficult as the education. To train that mob of slaves into a nation under discipline, to lift those up who had been in bondage, and make them fit to enjoy national privileges, this was the Herculean task that Moses had to perform. And their God, who loved the children of Israel, and chose them, and determined to make them a special people for himself, undertook to teach them, and he used their food as part of the means of their education. Animals are often taught through their food. When they could not be reached in any other way, they have been instructed by their hunger, and by their thirst, and by their feeding. And the Lord, who knew about the coarse nature of Israel, and how the people had degenerated from the old stock during their long bondage, took care to teach them by every means, not only by the higher and the more spiritual, by the typical and symbolical, but he also taught them by their hunger and by their thirst, by the supply of water from the rock, and by the manna which he rained from heaven.

2. We will try to see, tonight, what the Lord taught them, and we will do more than that; we will try to learn what they learned, and somewhat more. May the Holy Spirit himself be our Teacher, and as he has often taught us the most divine lessons by the bread and wine, preaching to our very hearts by what seemed the lowly ministry of food and drink, so may he, tonight, teach us by that angels’ bread, with which Israel was fed in the wilderness long years ago.

3. First, I invite you to consider how the Lord taught these people by his gift; and next, how he taught them by making this gift a test for them; thirdly, I shall have to show how he teaches its lessons concerning temporal things; and lastly, how he instructs us concerning our spiritual food.

4. I. First, then, dear friends, let us consider HOW THE LORD TAUGHT THESE PEOPLE BY HIS GIFT.

5. He wanted them to know him; his great desire was that they should know Jehovah their God. If they knew God, they would know everything else; for, after all, “the proper study of mankind” is God; and when man knows his God, he knows himself; but if he thinks that he knows himself while he does not know his God, he is greatly mistaken.

6. God desired, then, to teach them himself by the gift of the manna: and he taught them, first, his care over them, that he was their God, and that they were his people, and that he would lay himself out to provide for them. Think of the care that God had over them, over each one of them, for each man had his own omer of manna. No woman, no child, was forgotten. Every morning, there was a sufficient quantity for every man, according to his eating for that day. There was no more; and there was never any less; so carefully did God watch over each individual. The individuality of the divine love is a great part of its sweetness. God thinks of every individual child of his its as much as if he had only that one. The multiplicity of his elect does not divide the loaf of his affection. He has an infinite affection for each one, and he will take care of the details of each chosen life. He will see your omer just filled, precisely, to an ounce. He will give you all you can possibly require; but he will give you nothing that you can lay up to minister to your pride.

7. And this care was shown every day. The Lord taught them the continuity of his memory by its coming every day. If he had sent one great rain of liberalities to refresh his inheritance, and had told them to gather up the vast quantity, and carry it with them in all their journeyings, they could not so well have learned his care as when he sent it fresh every morning. Besides, they would have had the burden of carrying it, and they were free from that, for the heavenly supplies were always close at hand, exactly in the place where they pitched their tents and camped. Every morning, there was the manna precisely where they needed it, and that without any man’s shoulder being made raw by carrying his food in his kneading-trough. The Lord teaches you and me, in the same way, that he not only cares for each one, but cares for each one each day and each moment, tracking our footsteps, and measuring out the full supply of the hour according as the particular necessity arises. “He is always thoughtful, always thoughtful of me,” you may say of your Lord; “always thoughtful of all the brotherhood, of the whole company of the redeemed, but none the less thoughtful of each one because there are so many myriads to be cared for every moment of every day.” Was that not a sweet lesson for the children of Israel to learn as they gathered their daily bread?

8. But Jehovah taught them, next, his greatness. He had taught them that in Egypt by his mighty plagues, and at the Red Sea, when he branded the breast of the waters with his mighty rod. But now he gently taught them his greatness, his infinite greatness, first, by the quantity of the manna. There was enough for them all. How much it required, I leave mathematicians to calculate; I cannot go into that question tonight. But, remember, that quantity fell every morning for forty years. What a great God is he who could feed the canvas city of his chosen people for forty years at a stretch, and yet without his inventory being ever drained! His greatness was also seen by the mode in which he fed these myriads. Usually our bread springs up from the soil, but these people were in a waste howling wilderness. Wonder of wonders, their bread came down from the sky! Shall men live on air? Will you sustain a population on mist, and cloud, and dew? Yet out of a seeming vacuum came a constant plenty. Every morning the earth was covered with the heaped-up food of all that multitude; and they had nothing to do but to go out and gather it. What a God is this whose marchings through the wilderness were so marvellous! Jehovah, your paths drop fatness! Wherever you put your foot, the wilderness and the solitary place are glad for you. If you lead your people through a desert, it is no desert to them. The heavens supply what the earth denies. Behold, the greatness of your God, you who are fed by his care!

9. And, next, they learned his liberality combined with his greatness, for every day they were fed; but not fed as Joseph supplied the people in Egypt, when he took from them all they possessed to buy the grain, and at last took themselves to be bondsmen to Pharaoh, and their lands to be Pharaoh’s freehold, so that they might live. No; there was never a pretence of paying for that daily bread. The richest man had his omer filled, but he paid not a penny for it; and the poorest man had his omer just as full at the same price. There was “nothing to pay”; no manna tax was ever exacted from the Israelite’s hand. Oh, the liberality of God! His cry is, “Ho, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters, and he who has no money; come, buy and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk.” Do you notice how Jehovah’s invitation grows? He says at first, “Come to the waters,” but he corrects himself before he gets through with it, and says, “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” The Lord is infinitely good, essentially. He is growingly good, from our experience. The more we trust him, the more we discover of his liberality. He “gives liberally, and does not upbraid.” He scarcely upbraided Israel despite their frequent murmurings, but the manna fell continually; and the abundance of it must always have struck the people. God’s liberality never stinted them. Oh, yes, I have no doubt that it is quite right to weigh out the bread, and to weigh out the meat, so much bone and so much fat to be allowed for every prisoner in the jail, and possibly for every pauper in the poorhouse! But that is not God’s way of going to work. Though we deserve to be in prison, and though all of us are pensioners on his bounty, yet he gives each one his omer full. If a man has a large appetite, he may eat as much as he likes, and the manna seems to grow while he is eating; and if he has a small appetite, though he may have gathered much, yet still he will have nothing left over. God supplied the manna bountifully, yet exactly according to the capacity of the receiver.

10. This brings me to say that the children of Israel also learned God’s immutability, for they had been fed with manna all through the wilderness. Some old man may have said, “I remember going out the first time to gather my omer full. I was astonished at it; and my neighbours kept calling out, ‘Man-hu? Man-hu? Man-hu?’ They were all wonder-struck; they did not know what to call it; so they asked, ‘What is it?’ They called it, ‘Man-hu?’ And now,” he said, “I have been out all these years. Thank God, I have never had a swollen foot, so that I could not go out to gather it. It has always been just as white, and just as round, and just as plentiful, and just as near my tent as at the first. I used to live over on the left side of the camp, and I moved to the right; but I always found that the manna was equally plentiful in every direction wherever I went. And it is so now,” the old man would say, “it is so now; and it is just as sweet, and just as plentiful, and just as freely to be had for nothing by every man who chooses to go out and gather it. Blessed be God, he does not change, and therefore we sons of Jacob are not consumed! If he had changed, the manna would have failed us, and we should have been consumed with hunger.” Jehovah still lives, oh child of God! You have just buried one very dear to you, but the Lord still lives; he never fails. It may be that your income is getting shorter; the brook Cherith is drying up, and the ravens have not recently come with the bread and meat. Still Jehovah lives; and there is a widow over at Zarephath, who will have her commission to take care of the Lord’s servant. Jehovah lives; his eye is not dim, his ear is not heavy, his arm is not short. Therefore trust in the unchanging God, and do not be afraid. The manna shall fall from heaven until you shall eat the old grain in Canaan.

11. Do you not think, beloved, that from this gift the children of Israel also learned God’s wisdom? If they were not sensible enough to know it, he had given them the best food that he could give them. In that hot climate, if they had eaten meat continually, they would often have been ill. When the Lord did allow them quails in answer to their cravings, while the meat was still in their months they were taken with deadly sickness. It was unhealthy for them to have meat; this manna from on high was the best thing for people living in tents, journeying from place to place, over a burning sand, beneath a scorching sky. The Lord had adapted the food to the people; yet they said, “Our soul loathes this light bread.” The very name they gave to it showed that it was just the right kind of food for them, easy to digest. God had adapted their food to their position in the wilderness; no doctor could have drawn up a dietary table that was equal in wisdom to the one prepared by God for his people while they were in that condition.

12. And he showed his wisdom, too, in the quantity provided, it was always the right measure. “He who gathered much had nothing left over”; the manna seemed to shrink to the right quantity. “He who gathered little had no lack”; the manna seemed to swell and increase so that there was exactly enough to an ounce for all those multitudes. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God! How I have often admired his promptness to a moment, his exactness to the penny, for with him there are no more small mistakes than great ones! He never errs in any sense or way; but he hits the mark precisely in all that he does.

13. And then, once more, the Israelites must have learned his goodness, because he had not supplied them with tasteless food. According to the Apocrypha, which is not to be received as Scripture, but still is often valuable in some respects, each man tasted the manna according to his own liking. There was something about it that enabled the mouth to give its own flavour to it; and their marchings through the wilderness, and their weariness, would often add a sauce to it that made it extremely sweet to them. It was like wafers made with honey, not at all unpalatable. It was, as I have already told you, like fresh olive oil, by no means disagreeable to an Eastern. God did not give them beggar’s food, spare scraps and broken victuals. He had said, “I will rain bread from heaven for you,” and he kept his word. The least bit of heaven’s bread must be delicious to the taste. “Man ate angels’ food,” said the psalmist; and that cannot be bad food which falls from the table of cherubim and seraphim, such food as spirits might partake of if they might partake of any, light, and pure, and ethereal, and spiritual, as far removed from the grosser forms of materialism as food well could be, a godlike food for a godlike race if they had only been worthy of their destiny, and had been willing to learn what God was so ready to teach them.

14. II. Notice, dear friends, in the second place, HOW THE LORD TAUGHT THESE PEOPLE BY MAKING THIS MANNA A TEST FOR THEM.

15. Their position was in many respects a very pleasant one. They did not have to work for daily bread, they only had to go out and gather it. There it was, but here is the point for us to observe. It was given every day; they never had any excess. A man who gathered manna for twenty years might say, in language that I have often heard, “I ain’t a bit forrarder, I am just where I was twenty years ago,” as if it was not getting forwarder to be twenty years older, and to have had twenty years of mercy. Yet there was no excess of manna; all up and down the wilderness there was not a single bank in which people could put their money, there was no such thing as a dividend to be received by anyone, and no one could be storing up anything. Each Israelite had what he needed for the day; he kept on having just so much and no more, and this was a test. Could he endure that test?

16. And then, again, since there was no excess for all of them, and they did not get any richer, so there was no opportunity for greed, for it was given to every man. He who thrust out his two hands to rake up the manna, when he returned to his tent, had an omer full for himself, and his wife, and his eight children, but he did not have any more. He thought the next day, perhaps, that he would sweep away for another half-hour if he could, as long as the dew was remaining, and get an extra quantity; but when he examined it, he had exactly as much as he and his family could eat, and no more. The rest was all gone, evaporated, and nothing was left over and above what he needed; and his poor palsied neighbour, who could only get a little together in his basin with his hand, found that, somehow, he had enough, for God made it to grow in the basin, and when he looked at it, there was just enough for the day’s supply.

17. “Oh!” one says, “I should like that.” Well, I agree with you; I should like that. How long would you like it? I dare say, about as long as these Israelites did, and you would begin grumbling just as they did. Here was God’s test of them: every day, and no excess; every man, and no greed. It is so with grace; God gives us as much grace as we want, but there is no one here who has any grace stored up. Oh, yes! I heard one person say that she had so much grace that she had not sinned for months. Ugh! I thought I smelled something. I did not say anything; but I remembered what manna does when it is kept, and there I left the subject. I hope none of you think that you have more grace than you need, because you do not. You may, possibly, have as much grace as will last you through today; but you will need as much as that tomorrow morning, if not more. Oh, yes, I know that you have an iron safe, and you go and rattle your keys, and you say, “Look here; I have grace enough locked up for the next six weeks.” Go again, and you will be glad to run away from the stench, for you will find that you have locked up so much pride, and nothing else. We do not need dying grace until we come to die; be satisfied to have living grace while you live. You do not need grace to preach tonight, dear friends; you need grace to sit and listen. That may, perhaps, require as much grace as I need for preaching; but do not ask for my grace, just as I will not ask for yours. Eat your own manna. Eat it; do not lay it up, it is not meant to be stored up, it must be eaten. This gift of the manna, every day for every man, was a test by which the Lord taught the children of Israel.

18. So was that Friday storing, when they said to themselves, “We get into the habit of gathering our food every morning, but here comes this Friday, when we have to gather twice as much.” I do like consistency, always doing the same thing; but here is a command to do twice as much once a week, here is a law that changes a bit. I like systematic theology; but here is a sliding seat. Here is a double supply for Friday, and I have to store half of it up. So one man did not store it up when he was told to do so, and another man tried to store it up when he was told not to do so. So the Lord tested and tried them. It is a wonderful thing, that testing to which God puts us. Sometimes, when we think that we have such a surplus of faith in him, he just tests us, and we find that we do not have any. The grandest life is a life of dependence on God, for that is true independence. If you entirely depend on God, then you have risen to independence. He who has nothing but what God gives him day by day, has enough. He is the man who has saved most who has least, for he is saved from the worry of taking care of it. If he is still dependent on God’s providence, and faith can keep her hold, he is the best-off man after all. You said that you envied the Israelites. Ah, well, you may; but you need faith, or else what might be a theme of envy becomes a subject of discontentment. So I leave that point.

19. III. My time has pretty well gone, so I will only hint at what I would have said had there been time. Observe, HOW THE LORD TEACHES US BY THIS MANNA CONCERNING TEMPORAL THINGS.

20. First, he teaches us that our supplies depend on him. Where did all the manna come from? It all came from God. Child of God, all your supplies must come from God. Learn that. Whatever the secondary causes, whatever the intermediary sources, all you are to have will come from where all you have had has come, namely, from God.

21. Learn, next, that our supplies are secured by faith. If the manna did not fail for forty years, neither will the Lord fail to supply your needs. Your God will give you your livery, if you are his servant. He will give you your daily rations also, if you serve him. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” He who carves for himself will cut his fingers, and get an empty plate; but he who waits for the great Host of all the chosen family to carve for him shall have enough, and that from the best. “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

22. But learn from the children of Israel that our supplies will have to be gathered and prepared by ourselves. God sent the manna from heaven; but the people had to go out every morning, and get it in; and when they had gathered it, we read that they used to beat it in mortars, or grind it in mills, and bake it in pans, and make it into cakes. God is not the patron of idleness. He will have his people work; and his rule is, “If any man will not work, neither shall he eat,” a rule he often carries out with those who are idlers. But, beloved, we thank God for opportunities for diligence. Though labour came at first as a curse, God has turned it into a blessing.

23. And, once more, our supplies ought to satisfy us, for the children of Israel had enough for all their needs. They had no excess; but they had all-sufficiency. They had no luxuries; but yet if they chose to think so, their daily mercies became luxuries to them. Oh, that God might teach us to trust him concerning temporals!

24. IV. Now for my last point, and I ask for your patience for a few minutes only. HOW THE LORD TEACHES US BY THIS MANNA CONCERNING OUR SPIRITUAL FOOD. Here also I will only give you hints.

25. Every day you and I ought to go out and find food for our spiritual life. Ah, but have you all received spiritual life? Some of you, it may be, are dead while you live, without God, and without Christ. May the Lord quicken you by his life-giving Spirit!

26. But if you have spiritual life, you must feed it, and God will give you manna from heaven, that is, Christ himself, with which to feed your soul. He is that Bread of life which came down from heaven, and you must feed on him. Take care that you go diligently to work to get this spiritual food. The Israelites were up early to gather the manna which fell morning by morning. Do not be idlers with the Word of God; search it. Get up early in the morning to read your Bible if you cannot do it at other times. Steal from your sleep a happy hour to read the Scriptures. Diligently and earnestly seek the Lord, for he has said, “Those who seek me early shall find me.”

27. Then, as I hinted in the reading, the manna was always encased in dew. They took care to gather this, for then it became sweet dew to them. May the Word of the Lord always have a dew on it for you! The critic takes God’s Word, and he treats it as the sun did the manna. He pours a dry heat on it, and it evaporates, and it is gone. Oh, those critics! What a mass of manna they have evaporated altogether! But the child of God takes care that he loses nothing of what God has revealed. Every word is precious to him; indeed, every jot and tittle; and under the bedewing influences of the Holy Spirit he gathers Christ fresh constantly, always new; and he finds his flesh to be food indeed, and his blood to be drink indeed!

28. Again, the manna was to be sought continually. So must your spiritual food. Do not try to live on last year’s manna. Stale experiences are poor food. I know no dish that is worse than cold experience; you need to have a daily experience of the things of God. Hourly feed on Christ; for the food of past years will be of little value to you. Continually go around the meadows and feed, you sheep of the Lord; go again and again to the still waters, drink and be satisfied.

29. In the case of this manna, the gatherers were pleased with littles. It was a small, round thing, like coriander seed, or like the hoar-frost. So be very thankful to get a little bit out of God’s Word. If you only find one new thought, one fresh idea, pick it up, and put it into the omer. A great many of these precious little things will make rare food for a hungry spirit. Get the food for your soul little by little.

30. You can imagine how they probably had to gather it. I suppose that they went down on their knees to get it, for it was always down low, just on the hoar-frost that lay on the desert sand. See them all stooping down to gather it up; and most of them, I think, were on their knees gathering it. That is the way to get the heavenly food, gather it on your knees, stoop low with humility, bend to the very ground in prayerfulness, and so gather up the coriander seed; indeed, I mean the heavenly manna, and go your way rejoicing.

31. And it was always for immediate consumption. Whenever you get a divine promise, go and pray over it, and use it at once. Whenever you see a duty, do it. Do not leave one single part of God’s Word to lie void. If anything in the Word of God is impressed on your mind, let it get into your very soul, and let it be carried out in your practice. Eat the manna as soon as you get it, and use to God’s glory the strength derived from it.

32. Lastly, like the Israelites, sometimes you will get double supplies. There is a difference between us and the children of Israel, for we generally get a double supply on the Sabbath. Oh, how we ought to thank God for our Sabbaths, when the Lord is with us, or when he makes the manna to lie on the dew, and we come up to his house, and go away with our omers full! Happy Sabbaths! They become the marked days of the week, and we go from Sunday to Monday, and Monday to Thursday, and Thursday to Sunday again, thanking God that the heavenly bread still comes down to meet our rising prayers and thanksgivings.

33. May God bless you, dear friends! May he make his Word sweeter to us every day we live! May we have good appetites to feed on it!

34. As for you who have never known the flavour of the heavenly food, I say again, as I said a few minutes ago, may the Lord quicken you by his own life-giving Spirit, for Jesus’ sake! Amen!

{a} Commissariat: Any non-military department or organization for the supply of provisions. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ex 16:1-5,11-36 Nu 11:1-10}

From Exodus chapter sixteen —

1,2. And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to 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. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

They have been only about six weeks in the wilderness, and already they are up in arms against their leaders. Remember that we have the same kind of people to deal with as Moses and Aaron had. The children of Israel were no better than any other nation; and I do not think they were any worse. We may take them as a fair average of human nature, which is a discontented, rebellious thing in the best of circumstances.

3. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, and when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

They forgot all about the brickmaking, and the whips, and the iron bondage, and they remembered nothing but the pots of meat of Egypt. Ah, me! How soon, when we escape from a great trial, we forget it! The present much smaller one seems far heavier than what is past.

4. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, so that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.

See God’s answer to man’s murmuring. They send up their complaint, and he promises to rain bread down from above. It is a blessed story on God’s part all along; a rain of mercy for a smoke of complaining.

5. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare what they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Now let us read at the eleventh verse.

11, 12. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel:

“I have heard them.” God always does hear. Oh, his wonderful patience! If he took no notice of the murmurers, or punished them for their wickedness, we should have no cause for wonder; but he is longsuffering, even for those who do not deserve his pity.

12. Speak to them, saying, ‘In the evening you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”

“There shall be no mistake about who I am. I will work this miracle in such a Godlike style, and on such a divine scale, that you shall know that I am Jehovah your God.”

13-16. And it came to pass, that in the evening the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay all around the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, on the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar-frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said to each other, “It is manna”: for they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, ‘Gather it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man,

About two pints and a half, I think; according to some calculations, two quarts, or thereabouts. There would be more sustenance in it than in a two pound loaf of bread per day: “An omer for every man.”

16-18. According to the number of your persons; every man takes for those who are in his tents.’ ” And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they measured it with an omer, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack; every man gathered according to his eating.

God meant it to be so; not every man according to his avarice, so that he might save any of it; but “every man according to his eating.” God took care that neither should feebleness be stinted, nor should greed have any excess.

19-22. And Moses said, “Let no man leave any of it until the morning.” Notwithstanding they did not listen to Moses; but some of them left some of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was angry with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun grew hot, it melted. And 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.

He had told them that it would be so, but they evidently did not accept the message that he had delivered to them as the very Word of Jehovah their God; so that, when it was fulfilled, it struck them with wonder, and they “came and told Moses.”

23. And he said to them, “This is what, the LORD has said,

How often could that answer be made to us! God hears our prayer, and we run and say, “What a wonderful thing! God has heard my prayer.” “This is what the Lord has said.” Is it a strange thing that what Jehovah has said is proved to be true, and is it a subject for surprise that he should keep his promise? You dishonour God when you talk like this.

23. Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath to the LORD:

And yet the Sabbath had not been instituted according to law, which proves that its foundation lay deeper and earlier than the promulgation of the Ten Commandments; it is bound up with the essential arrangement of time since the creation: “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath to the Lord.’ ”

23-27. Bake what you will bake today, and seethe what you will seethe; and what remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.’ ” And they laid it up until the morning, as Moses told them to: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm in it. And Moses said, “Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath to the LORD: today you shall not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.” And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day to gather it, and they found none.

They might have expected it to be so; but they would not believe, and since they would not believe, they needed to put the Word of God to the test. But it endures the trial; it is always true. Oh, that men would, in a believing spirit, test the Word of God, instead of doing it in this sceptical way!

28-31. And the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for the LORD has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; every man of you remains in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day. And the house of Israel called the name of it Manna:

Or, “What is it?” It was something too wonderful to be understood; and they kept the expression of their wonderment as the name of their bread from heaven. When they first saw it, they exclaimed, “Man-hu?” “Man-hu?” “What is it?” “What is it?” So it received its Hebrew name, Manna; but God called it, “Bread from heaven.”

31-33. And it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. And Moses said, “This is the thing which the LORD commands, ‘Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; so that they may see the bread with which I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out from the land of Egypt.’ ” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna in it, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.”

This food, which would not keep a single day under ordinary circumstances, would keep for two days to supply the needs of the Sabbath, and it would keep for generations as a memorial of God’s goodness to his chosen people during their forty years’ wanderings through the wilderness. We may be quite sure that Aaron would not have kept a stinking thing laid up before the Lord.

34-36. As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Ark of the Testimony, to be kept. And the children of Israel ate manna for forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna, until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan. Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

Now I want you to read in the Book of Numbers. Further on in the history of the children of Israel, when the people had been long in the wilderness, the same kind of thing happened again. We read in chapter eleven —

1. And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD:

Interpreters cannot figure out what they had to complain about. The curse of labour had been removed; they did not earn their bread with the sweat of their face, for it fell from heaven every day. They were at no expense for clothing; and though they journeyed, their feet did not swell. I suppose that they complained about the weather. It was too cold; it was too hot; it was too wet; it was too dry. They complained when they stood still; they were much too long in one place. They complained when they marched; they moved too often. In fact, they were very like ourselves; they often complained most when they had the least to complain about. Discontentment is chronic to our humanity; and I do not believe that the poorest are the most discontented. It is often the very opposite. When a man is put in a place where he has nothing to complain of, especially if he is an Englishman, he feels quite out of place. He must have something to grumble about, something or other to be a grievance, or else he is not happy. “When the people complained, it displeased the Lord.”

1. And the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed those who were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

He could hear their first murmurings, since they were new to the wilderness, they were hungry, they were thirsty, and the Lord pitied them. But now, when there was no reason for their complaining, his fire in terrible judgment visited his people, on account of their rebellion and murmuring against the goodness of God.

2-4. And the people cried to Moses; and when Moses prayed to the LORD, the fire was quenched. And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burned among them. And the mixed multitude who was among them yielded to intense craving:

All evil seems to begin there, among “the mixed multitude,” as it does among those church members who are unconverted, and among those people who try to hold with the hare and run with the hounds, those who want to be Christians and worldlings, too.

4. And the children of Israel also wept again, and said, “Who shall give us meat to eat?

Even the true people of God caught the infection of the scum who were mixed with them, and they started weeping, and said, —

5. We remember the fish, which, we ate in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic:

That was fine stuff to remember! “Why!” you say, “you have read before something very much like that.” I am reading another record; but there is no originality in grumbling; it is always the same old thing over again. You might well suppose that I was reading in the Book of Exodus, but I am not; there are only about a year later. He who sits down with a discontented hand to paint a picture will paint the same picture that he painted before. There is no originality in the murmuring, although they put in a few new touches. Before, it was the pots of meat that they remembered; now, in addition to the meat, there are these savoury vegetables, “the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic.”

6. But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.”

Here they pour contempt on the bread of angels, on the food of heaven, on the blessing of God. Oh, what will men not complain about?

7. And the manna was as coriander seed, and its colour as the colour of bdellium.

A fine white colour, like a pearl.

8. And the people went around, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh olive oil.

At first they thought it was like wafers made with honey. Getting more used to it, they, perhaps, described it quite as accurately, but not quite so sweetly; they said it was like fresh olive oil, and there is no better taste than that. Olive oil, by the time it comes to us, usually has a rank and rancid taste; but in the olive oil countries it is delicious; and he who has bread and a drop or two of olive oil, will find himself well supplied with a dinner. “The taste of it was as the taste of fresh olive oil.”

9. And when the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it.

God took care to preserve his precious gift, encasing each single particle of it within a drop of dew, which gave it freshness. And when truth comes to us encased in the dew of the Spirit, how sweet is its taste! May it be so to us whenever we feed on Christ!

10. Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.

And no wonder; meek man as he was, they vexed his gracious spirit by their perpetual murmurings.

As we read this sad story, let us, as in a mirror, see ourselves; and let us deeply repent of our murmuring and complaining, and henceforth sing —

    I will praise thee every day!
    Now thine anger’s turn’d away.

Perhaps our next hymn (Number 697) will help us that way.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — God Is All Sufficient” 676}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Patience and Resignation — ‘Give Us Day By Day Our Daily Bread’ ” 697}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Patience and Resignation — ‘He Shall Choose Our Inheritance For Us’ ” 703}


The Christian, Courage and Confidence
676 — God Is All-Sufficient
1 Awake our souls, away our fears,
   Let every trembling thought begone
   Awake, and run the heavenly race,
   And put a cheerful courage on.
2 True, ‘tis a strait and thorny road,
   And mortal spirits tire and faint;
   But they forget the mighty God
   That feeds the strength of every saint.
3 Thee, mighty God, whose matchless power
   Is ever new and ever young,
   And firm endures, while endless years
   Their everlasting circles run.
4 From thee, the overflowing spring,
   Our souls shall drink a fresh supply,
   While such as trust their native strength,
   Shall melt away, and droop, and die.
5 Swift as an eagle cuts the air,
   We’ll mount aloft to thine abode;
   On wings of love our souls shall fly,
   Nor tire amidst the heavenly road.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.


The Christian, Patience and Resignation
697 — “Give Us Day By Day Our Daily Bread” <7s.>
1 Day be day the manna fell;
   Oh! to learn this lesson well,
   Still by constant mercy fed,
   Give me, Lord, my daily bread.
2 “Day by day,” the promise reads;
   Daily strength for daily needs:
   Cast foreboding fears away;
   Take the manna of today.
3 Lord, my times are in thy hand;
   All my sanguine hopes have plann’d
   To thy wisdom I resign,
   And would make thy purpose mine.
4 Thou my daily task shalt give;
   Day by day to thee I live:
   So shall added years fulfil,
   Not mine own — my Father’s will.
5 Fond ambition, whisper not;
   Happy is my humble lot:
   Anxious, busy cares away!
   I’m provided for today.
6 Oh to live exempt from care,
   By the energy of prayer;
   Strong in faith, with mind subdued;
   Yet elate with gratitude!
                     Josiah Conder, 1837.


The Christian, Patience and Resignation
703 — “He Shall Choose Our Inheritance For Us”
1 Thy way, not mine, oh Lord,
      However dark it be;
   Oh lead me by thine own right hand,
      Choose out the path for me.
2 Smooth let it be or rough,
      It will be still the best;
   Winding or straight it matters not,
      It leads me to thy rest.
3 I dare not choose my lot,
      I would not if I might;
   But choose thou for me, oh my God,
      So shall I walk aright.
4 Take thou my cup, and it
      With joy or sorrow fill;
   As ever best to thee may seem,
      Choose thou my good and ill.
5 Choose thou for me my friend,
      My sickness or my health;
   Choose thou my joys and cares for me,
      My poverty or wealth.
6 Not mine, not mine the choice,
      In things or great or small;
   Be thou my Guide, my Guard, my Strength,
      My Wisdom, and my All.
                  Horatius Bonar, 1856, a.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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