"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,
and ordinances, and Gospel-rites, 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. But it has neither taste nor vital juice.
Just so the means of grace are lovely caskets of the heavenly
treasure. But he who would have life must pass beyond them to the Lord
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
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
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
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. He calls you with
especial grace—'Those who seek me early, shall find me.' And finding Him,
you find an ever-blessing portion. 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. If angels sing with sweeter song, methinks it
must be round a Christian youth. Come early. Come now. None ever came too
soon. Many, alas, have sought too late!
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. Vain is it that Christ with all salvation is at the door, vain is the
Bible-store, vain is the pulpit-food, except the eager soul gird up the
loins of eager doing. 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? Who ever gained in
Sabbath-shops, or by a Sabbath-spade? From the seed of Sabbath-work springs
up a harvest of soul-piercing woe. Israel's rest was never Israel's loss.
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!