Pot of Manna
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

In our study of the book of Exodus, we are at the present time in that portion of the book that is describing the Tabernacle. So, in chronological order, we are studying the Tabernacle, as it is presented in the book of Exodus, from the standpoint of its symbolic portrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 25. We have already familiarized ourselves with the plan of the Tabernacle. We mentioned to you that the study of the Tabernacle is approached by Bible scholars in a number of different ways. Some of them begin the study of the Tabernacle at the outer fence, going to the brazen altar, then to the laver, then through the veil, which is the door into the Holy Place, where there is the golden candlestick, the table of shewbread, and the altar of incense, then going into the Most Holy Place, where there is the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat on top. This approach to the study of the Tabernacle is symbolic of the manner in which the sinner approaches God, because the sinner must come by the brazen altar, the laver, the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, and eventually reach the Mercy Seat where God has promised to meet man.

Other Bible scholars begin the study of the Tabernacle with the discussion of the foundation of the Tabernacle. The foundation illustrates the truth concerning redemption. Others begin with the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place and then work out to the place outside, where man would be if it were not for that which is found in the Most Holy Place–the Ark of the Covenant.

We have begun our study of the Tabernacle with the piece of furniture that is known as the Ark of the Covenant. Our reason for so beginning is that that is the order in which it is presented in the book of Exodus. Since we are studying the whole book of Exodus, we decided that it would be good to follow the outline that is given there. At the risk of being repetitious, I want us to read again the portion of the Word which describes the Ark of the Covenant.

Exodus 25

10And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
11And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
12And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
13And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
14And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
15The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
16And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
17And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
18And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
20And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

These verses constitute what we might refer to as the blueprint which God gave to Moses for the building of the Ark of the Covenant. Will you turn, please, to chapter 37 of the book of Exodus and notice the manner in which Bezaleel, the God-selected architect for the building, actually followed the blueprint. Notice verse 7, for in verse 7 we have the additional information which makes it necessary for us to compare chapter 25 with chapter 37. In verse 7, we read:

Exodus 37

7And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat;

This verse of Scripture tells us that Bezaleel made the Mercy Seat and the cherubim on each end of the Mercy Seat out of one single piece of pure gold. The blueprint in chapter 25 did not mention that they were to be made of one single piece. Let us keep in mind that it was a real and actual piece of furniture in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. We learned that it was made out of shittim wood, that the shittim wood was overlaid with gold on the outside and the inside. We learned that it had gold rings in each corner, through which were placed staves of shittim wood overlaid with gold. These staves were never removed from the rings, and they were used for carrying the Ark. We learned that the lid of the Ark was actually another piece of furniture, designated the Mercy Seat, and the lid was not made out of wood as was the Ark itself. It was made out of pure gold with the cherubim on each end of the Mercy Seat facing toward each other, looking down toward the Ark itself.

We discovered in our study of the Ark last week that it was a chest. The word that is translated “ark” in the book of Exodus is elsewhere in the Word of God translated “chest.” Therefore, let us fix in our minds that the Ark of the Covenant was a chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. We said that the Ark had a special significance in the Word of God. We learned what that significance is by noticing the first and second times that the word “ark” is used in the Bible. The function of every ark in the Bible was to sustain life. The ark which Noah built sustained the life of Noah and his family. The ark in which Moses was placed as a baby sustained the life of Moses. The Ark of the Covenant fits into the picture perfectly, because it is representative of the Lord Jesus Christ in His ministry of sustaining life. We pointed out to you that the Ark is the one piece of furniture which speaks to us in a very definite way of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Ark of the Covenant presents to us the Lord Jesus Christ in His person as the Sustainer of Life.

You will remember that in chapter 25 we were told that the testimony was placed in the Ark. We learned from the book of Hebrews, chapter 9, that besides the testimony–that is, the two tables of stone, or the Ten Commandments–the Ark held also a pot of manna and Aaron's rod that budded. These three things were placed in the Ark of the Covenant. Fix them in your minds, please, because we will be thinking about them and their symbolism in some detail. There were two tables of stone; there was the pot of manna; there was Aaron's rod that budded.

We devoted some time to a discussion of the two tables of stone–the Ten Commandments–pointing out that the only time the tables of stone are recorded as having meant the death of people was when an individual lifted up the lid, the Mercy Seat, and looked down on the tables of stone. Immediately he was stricken dead. This was because the Mercy Seat is representative of God's mercy–of the Lord Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins. We shall see this in more detail later. As long as the Ten Commandments were under the blood, or as long as the Ten Commandments were hidden in Christ, they meant life instead of death. We looked at a number of Scriptures that verified that fact.

The Sustainer of Life

Next, we want to look together at the second thing that is mentioned as being in the Ark of the Covenant and its significance, especially as showing forth the truth that we have mentioned–that the Lord Jesus Christ is the sustainer of life. We refer to the pot of manna. Turn, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 16, verse 3, as we refresh our minds as to how manna came into being and how it received a place in the Word of God. In chapter 16, you will remember, the children of Israel became needlessly alarmed that they were going to starve to death. They were so upset that they even thought they lacked something that they had had when they were in the land of Egypt. In verse 3:

Exodus 16

3And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

You will remember the previous record of the nation of Israel in the earlier part of the book of Exodus. In Egypt they did not have enough to eat. They were starved and beaten and treated like slaves. But now that they were in the wilderness, frightened and excited, they decided that it had been better for them in Egypt than it was in the wilderness. Notice verse 4:

Exodus 16

4Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
5And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
6And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
7And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
9And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
11And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host (about the camp) .
14And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
19And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
22And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe (boil) that ye will seethe (boil) ; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
24And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
25And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
27And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
28And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
29See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
30So the people rested on the seventh day.
31And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
32And Moses said, 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, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
33And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
34As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
35And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
36Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

I would like for you to observe how the manna did get into the Ark of the Covenant. In verse 32:

Exodus 16

32And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth…

In verse 33, Moses said unto Aaron:

Exodus 16

33And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot [Hebrews, chapter 9, tells us it was a golden vessel] , and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.

An omer, translated into measurements which we understand today, represents approximately 5 pints of this manna. We are told, down in verse 36, that an omer is the tenth part of an ephah. An omer is a Hebrew measurement; an ephah is an Egyptian measurement. An omer, translated into measurements we can understand, represents five pints. So, five pints of this manna was put into a golden vessel, placed in the Ark–this chest-like thing that we are talking about–and remained in that Ark over forty years. It remained in the Ark all during the wilderness wanderings, remained even in the land of Canaan until such a time as the Temple was built by Solomon. It is an amazing thing to consider that the manna which could not be kept for two days without spoiling could be kept for more than forty years (there is no way of ascertaining the exact number of years) without spoiling. This is an illustration of how God can preserve that which we are not able to preserve.

The pot of manna pictures the truth that life is sustained by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is symbolic of both the living Word, Jesus Christ, and the written Word, Jesus Christ.

The True Bread From Heaven

Keep a marker here and turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 6, which is a New Testament commentary on this Old Testament experience that enables us to understand its symbolism. We have Scriptural grounds for considering symbolism in the Word of God (Hebrews 9; John 1). In John, chapter 6, the Pharisees–religious leaders–were taking issue with Him concerning His claim to deity. In verse 28, they said unto Him:

John 6

28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

He had just performed a miracle of feeding five thousand people with a few loaves and fishes. They said, “We want to know how to work the works of God.” In verse 29:

John 6

29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
30They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

Now get the picture so that you will be able to understand the pot of manna. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If you want to work the works of God, the greatest work you can do is to believe on Me whom He has sent. That is the greatest thing you can do.” Immediately they said, “Well, why should we believe on you? What works have you done that would prove to us that you are the Son of God?” Some of us might say, “Why did they not believe that the feeding of the five thousand was a tremendous work of God?” The answer is in verse 31. They assumed that someone would say that, so they said:

John 6

31Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

They said, in so many words, “What you have done here today isn't just anything. Our fathers lived for forty years on bread from Heaven and you fed just five thousand people for one brief day. Why do you think that is such a tremendous thing?” Now look at verse 32:

John 6

32Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

We will stop our reading right there, because the Lord Jesus Christ, in commenting specifically on this particular portion of the Word that we are studying, indicates that as the manna sustained the life of the Israelites in the wilderness, the Lord Jesus Christ, both the living and the written Word, sustains the life of the believer in our day. Therefore, we have a right to consider the characteristics of the manna that was hidden in the Ark of the Covenant and in so doing to learn how the Lord Jesus sustains the life of the believer in this hour.

Characteristics of the Manna

Go back to the book of Exodus, chapter 16, and let us notice some characteristics of this manna, keeping in mind that a pot of it was kept in the Ark of the Covenant to remind the children of Israel all through their wilderness wanderings of how life was to be sustained. Notice Exodus, chapter 16, verse 15:

Exodus 16

15And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.

This word “manna” is the transliteration of the Hebrew word. You understand that when you have a translation, you have a meaning of the word; when you have a transliteration of the word, the translators have merely spelled the Hebrew word with English letters. Sometimes they do that because there is not an adequate translation of that particular word or the translation is not euphonious. The reason for this particular transliteration becomes evident when you look at verse 15. If it were literally translated, it would read, “and when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, 'It is what is it'.” The word “manna” means “what is it.” The translators of the text thought it would sound better to say, “It is manna.” And, of course, it does. But if we transliterate this word instead of translating it, we do miss the effect the manna produced on these people. When they saw it, they were mystified by it. They did not know what it was. They said, “It is—what is it?” The mystery of the manna remained among them.

Manna as a Mystery

That leads me to suggest the first way in which the manna is a perfect representation of the Lord Jesus Christ: They could not understand it with their human hearts. The Apostle Paul said, in I Timothy, chapter 2, verse 16, “…great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…” The reason people spend their time doubting the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is that they cannot understand it. Scientists will say it is a scientific impossibility. I could not begin to tell you how many pages of dissertations I have read through the years which were written in order to prove the possibility of a virgin birth. Various scholars have used certain scientific facts in a effort to prove that the virgin birth is a possibility. They have offered illustrations from various spheres of life–various spheres of animal life–and endeavored to prove that the virgin birth is a possibility. Of course, we are always interested in that kind of thing because of our deep interest in the truth of the virgin birth. But it should not matter whether it can be proved, for it is a spiritual truth that can never be comprehended by the unregenerated human heart. It is something that God's Word declares, and therefore we believe it. It can no more be explained than could the manna which mystified the Israelites. Since they could not understand, they said, “What is it?”

Received From Heaven

Exodus, chapter 16, verse 4, shows us another characteristic of this manna which pictures the Lord Jesus Christ. In Exodus, chapter 16, verse 4, we read:

Exodus 16

4Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

This manna was not only a mystery; this manna was direct from Heaven, as was also the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, the chief description which the Lord Jesus Christ gave of Himself was, “I have come down from Heaven to do the will of God” (Psalm 40:7-8). As we look at the various things which are told us about the manna, we see other interesting pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you look at verse 13:

Exodus 16

13And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.

Now keep a marker here because we will be tarrying here a while. But turn in your Bibles to the book of Numbers, where we have some additional information about the manna. In Numbers, chapter 11, verse 9:

Numbers 11

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

Now, if you tie Exodus, chapter 16, verse 14, and Numbers, chapter 11, verse 9 together, you will find a very interesting fact–namely, that the manna is related to the dew. These two verses tell us that first God sent the dew, then He sent the manna to rest on top of the dew, and then He sent the dew again to rest on the top of the manna so that the manna was completely wrapped up in the dew. You say, “Of what particular significance is that?”

Symbolic of Grace

Turn, please, to the book of Proverbs, chapter 19, verse 12. Here we have the symbolic significance of dew in the Word of God.

Proverbs 19

12The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

This verse of Scripture and others, if you care to take a concordance and follow the word through your Bible, indicate that dew in the Word of God is a symbol of grace, of unmerited favor, of receiving something that is not deserved. Get the picture: Here is an individual before the king. He had disobeyed the law of the king, and the king could turn his face toward him in wrath, but instead he turns it smiling, and the individual realizes that he has gained the favor of the king. The Spirit of God says, “…it is as dew upon the grass.” Dew, then, in the Scriptures, symbolically represents grace. We are reminded that the sustenance of which we speak is ours purely and simply because of the grace of God. There is not one of us who is worthy of life. If you think you are, you are wrong. None of us deserves any good that God gives us. Everything that we have is due solely to His grace. That is what is represented by the manna's resting upon the dew and being covered by the dew.

Pictures Humanity and Deity of Jesus

Going back to Exodus, chapter 16, we noticed some other relevant details about the manna. In verse 14:

Exodus 16

14And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.

Now, hoar frost is frozen dew, similar to hail. The thing that is emphasized in this verse of Scripture is that the dew was small and round. That suggests two things to my mind. First, the smallness is twice emphasized, and yet it was sufficient to feed the entire host of Israel. Next, smallness is suggestive of the humility and the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you ever stopped to think how it was He came? He came not as a king with a herald before Him. He came not riding a white charger, leading a great army. He came as a servant riding upon the most humble of all animals. He moved across the face of the earth in a most mediocre way, and yet all down through the centuries His influence has been felt.

That suggests another reason why I think the roundness of this manna is presented to us. You will notice that it is not only emphasized that it is small, but it is emphasized that it is round, smooth, no rough edges, nothing incomplete about it. We find once again, combined together, the word “smallness” indicating the humanity and “roundness” picturing the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ–both the humanity of the flesh and the perfection of the Spirit.

Pictures the Purity of Jesus

Another thing is told us in this chapter 16 about the manna. Notice verse 31:

Exodus 16

31And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Coriander seed was known because of its whiteness and that is the reason it was chosen to describe the manna. The whiteness of manna is also compared in the book of Numbers, chapter 11, verse 7, to bdellium. Not only is bdellium typical of whiteness, also it is a gum that comes from the wounding of a bdellium plant. If there was no wounding of the plant, there would be no little, white, coagulating substance. This suggests the purity of the Lord Jesus Christ, as white always does in the Scripture, and also the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, because His strength is made perfect in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9) and His perfection is revealed in the way He suffered and bled and died for you and for me.

Verse 31 informs us that the taste of manna was like wafers made with honey. The emphasis is placed upon the honey. If we were to examine many passages of Scripture, we would find that honey is typical of the sustaining strength of God. We will look at only one passage of Scripture, so that you will have a reason for the statement that we have just made; then you will have a starting point from which, if you care to, you can pursue this study further. Turn, please, to Psalm 119, verse 103:

Psalms 119

103How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Follow this verse of Scripture with related references through the Word of God and you will find indeed that honey is a type of the Word of God. So, when we read that the manna tasted like honey, we find another indication that it represents the Lord Jesus Christ as He is ministered to the hearts of believers.

Represents the Holy Spirit

In the book of Numbers, chapter 11, verse 8, this same manna is referred to as fresh oil. The manna, when it was cooked, had the taste of fresh oil. Now, in the Scriptures, oil, by the same procedure we have suggested in tracing the symbolism of honey, is representative of the Holy Spirit. This suggests to my mind that the Lord Jesus Christ will be sweet to the taste of believers only as the Holy Spirit is able to minister to our hearts the whole truth concerning Him. How many times have you felt the Word of God was just so much dry dust? You read it because you felt you should, but it meant absolutely nothing to you. How many times have you gone to church, sat and listened to the sermon and been bored because you felt nothing was in the sermon for you? Perhaps the reason is (of course there could be a number of reasons) that the Holy Spirit was not given an opportunity through either the minister or the hearer to minister the Lord Jesus Christ to the heart of the believer.

Turn, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 3, for the verification of this truth. You are aware of the fact that there are many modern translations of the Scriptures available to us today, and we are very grateful for them. None of them is perfect. All of them do shed some light on the Scriptures for us from time to time, but I have always been out of sympathy with the intent of the modern translations, for the intent of the modern translations is to help the man of the street understand the Bible. Well, the man on the street can read the Bible from a modern translation and still not understand it, because it is not translation alone that enables us to understand the Word; it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians, chapter 2:

I Corinthians 2

11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God [notice now] knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

That is a simple statement. No man can know the things of God except through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given us by God (I Corinthians 2:12). Notice what Paul is saying. He is saying we cannot understand these things without the aid of the Spirit of God. In the very next verse, he said, “…but we have him.” Every born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Notice I Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 13:

I Corinthians 2

13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I pause here to emphasize that that is the only way to study the Bible–to compare spiritual things to spiritual, to compare one Scripture with another. It is of no avail to compare Scriptural things with natural things alone. The Word is clear only when spiritual things are compared with spiritual things. Notice verse 14:

I Corinthians 2

14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The natural man is a man who is not born again. That is why I say to you that the man on the street, if he is unregenerated, will never understand the Word of God, regardless of how many modern translations he has. Notice verse 15:

I Corinthians 2

15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

A better word than “judged” here is the word “discern.” God is not speaking of an individual's judging something as you would in a contest or as you would in a court of law. He is speaking of the individual's being able to discern and understand all things and yet being himself a mystery of the natural man. I am sure we will all agree with that.

As we go back now to Exodus, chapter 16, we are reminded that the manna, which tasted like fresh oil, was but a symbol of the life and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ, ministered to us by the Holy Spirit.

Manna Available to All

I would like for us to notice now a few words about how the manna was to be gathered. We have been thinking about the manna itself, but now I would like for you to observe with me how the manna was gathered. Notice Exodus, chapter 16, verse 13:

Exodus 16

13And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.

The first thing that comes to our attention when we think about gathering the manna is that it was available to everyone. It was all around the camp. It was not closer to one person than it was to another. It was available to everyone. Sometimes some folk get the idea that they have the truth and no one else does. The truth of God is as close to you as your Bible. You do not need to accept what anyone says about it. All you need to do is open the Bible for yourself, ask the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach the Word of God, and you will find that the truth of God's Word is as close as the manna on the dew was round about the camp.

Responsibility of Gathering the Manna

In verse 16, we read:

Exodus 16

16This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.

There are several things in this passage that attract our attention. The first thing that I notice is that it was the responsibility of the head of the house to gather the manna for his household. Five pints for every person in his household he was to gather; it was the responsibility of the head of the house to gather it. Let us stop and consider for a moment the spiritual significance of that. If you are a husband and a father, then it is your responsibility as the head of the house to gather manna for your family. It is not your wife's responsibility; it is your responsibility. I do not know how many times I have talked with men who say, “I make a good living and I provide well for my family, but I leave religion to my wife.” That is not right. You are the head of the house and you have the responsibility to gather the manna for your family. Notice also another emphasis. An omer had to be gathered for every member of the family according to his eating, or according to his individual need. This suggests to us that wives cannot go to Heaven on a husband's religion and children cannot go to Heaven on Mother's and Father's religion. It is a personal matter, but it is the responsibility of the head of the house.

Though an omer was gathered for every member of the family, God had a way of arranging it so that there was never too much and there was never too little. Every individual need was met in this special way. I do not know how many of you have had the responsibility as well as the privilege of preaching or teaching; but when you have such an opportunity, if you are a conscientious person, you have a great burden on your heart. You are concerned that your ministry will give sustenance and strength to everyone in your congregation. If you tried to do that in your own human strength, it would be an utter impossibility. You could not have a message long enough to give verses of Scripture geared to the spirituality and mentality of every person in your congregation. But if you wait upon the Lord and ask Him to lead you in the teaching of the Word, it is an amazing thing how, when you give forth the truth of the Word of God, God can use it to meet the needs of individual hearts in individual ways. A verse of Scripture which may mean much to me–which simply overwhelms me–may not mean much to you, but it will meet just enough of your need to satisfy the longing in your heart. So, this verse of Scripture teaches us that the Lord Jesus Christ meets each individual need according to the individual.

The Time of Gathering

Notice Exodus, chapter 16, verse 19:

Exodus 16

19And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

These verses of Scripture suggest to us that this manna must be gathered every morning. If they gathered too much one day and tried to keep it until the next morning and did not go out and gather fresh manna, it bred worms and stank. If they did not gather it in the morning and said, “Oh, I am too busy to gather it right now. I will gather it this afternoon,” they would find that the sun had come up and the manna had melted and was gone. Surely the Lord did not put this in the Bible just to give us a few brief details. I think He put it there and called our attention to its symbolism to remind us that we will never find enough spiritual strength, we will never find enough spiritual food, by taking advantage of the opportunity occasionally. There must be a day by day feeding on the Word of God and a day by day feeding on Christ if we are to be strengthened as we should. If we try to store up an experience, our experience becomes unlovely and bad tasting. Haven't you had the experience of contacting individuals who were living and operating on the momentum of a past experience and they tried to make you think it was an up to date thing and you well realized it was not and there was nothing attractive about it?

Notice verse 22, a special provision to cover their different need:

Exodus 16

22And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

Are you thinking with me? If this had been on Wednesday night and they gathered two omers, an omer would have spoiled. Because it was on Friday night, they gathered two omers and it did not spoil because God did not want them to gather any manna on the Sabbath day. This speaks to my own heart in a very real way. I believe it tells us that as we feed every day, we will find that the Lord will give us enough to stand us in good stead when for some reason we are not able to gather the manna afresh.

A Personal Illustration of God's Provision

If you will permit a personal reference, I find an apt illustration of this very thing. After my heart surgery, during the days that followed in Houston, I found this to be very, very real. I was not physically, mentally or spiritually able to read the Word of God. I was not able to pray. I was not able to have overt, active fellowship with the Lord. But during one day of intense pain and suffering, when they had no idea what caused the pain and the doctors themselves thought surely I was dying, the Lord stood by me just as really as though I could have reached out and touched Him, though I could not have, just as real as if I had seen Him, though I did not see Him. I heard Him speaking to my own heart words of comfort as He reminded me of verses of Scripture that spoke of the suffering which Christians suffer in order that they might fulfill the sufferings of Christ. Those passages of Scripture had been precious to my own heart in years gone by. I was not able to hold a Bible. I was not even able to listen to the reading of the Bible; but I had gathered enough during those years before that time that I still had an extra pot of manna, an extra omer of manna, so to speak, standing me in good stead during those trying days. That is the wonderful thing about knowing the Lord and feeding upon His Word. There is enough to sustain you during days of trial, just as the manna they had gathered sustained them in the day when it could not be gathered.

Provision for Different Needs

Notice chapter 16, verse 23:

Exodus 16

23And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe [boil] that ye will seethe [boil] ; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning [that is, the cooked manna, of course] .

The book of Numbers, chapter 11, verse 8, tells us that in addition to baking and boiling, there was grinding and there was milling, suggesting the many different ways of preparing the manna to meet different needs. We are reminded once again of how this emphasizes the way in which the written Word, as well as the living Word, is able to meet the various needs of individuals. Remember what Peter said, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.” When you have just been born again and you are not too far along in the Word of God, there is milk for you. Then you will remember that the Apostle Paul said, “I have desired to feed you with meat instead of milk, but you are not yet able.” There is a time when we are ready for the meat of the Word. Just as the manna was baked or boiled or ground up and made into meal, so we have the opportunity of feeding on the Word of God in any way that the Holy Spirit can minister it to our hearts.

In the book of Joshua, chapter 5, we read of how the manna ceased to be. In Exodus, chapter 16, we read that it did continue all during the forty years of wandering; but in Joshua, chapter 5, verse 10, we learn how this provision ended.

Joshua 5

10And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.
11And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.
12And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

The children of Israel fed upon manna until they got home. They fed upon manna until they reached the land of Canaan and had one meal of corn; then they never had any manna again because they were at home in the land of promise. God no longer needed to sustain them in the same manner that He sustained them in their journey.

Manna for the Overcomer

We have been noticing the relation between manna and the Lord Jesus Christ. If we were to follow that all the way through, we might say that there would come a time in our lives when we would cease to feed upon manna, but such is not the case. In Revelation, chapter 2, verse 17:

Revelation 2

17He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

That is a reference to that which awaits the overcomer. Who is an overcomer? Let us not be misled. There are some people who will tell you that an overcomer is an individual who never makes any mistakes, an individual who never fails in any way, an individual who is perfect. If that is the definition of an overcomer, then we are all discouraged. The true definition of an overcomer is found in the first epistle of John, chapter 5, verse 4:

I John 5

4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the sense that you trust Him as your own personal Savior, then you are an overcomer; and to the overcomer, in Revelation, chapter 2, verse 17, are promised several things. One of the things is that God is going to give him a white stone. A white stone stands for approval. Another thing that God is going to give him is a new name. That is private information with God until we get it. When we all get to Heaven every one of us will be given a white stone, which is a sign of approval (we may not get approval of man down here) and a new name. You may not like the name your mother and father gave you, but you have not been able to do much about it. Well, when you get to Heaven, you are going to have a new name. We do not know what it is and there is no use to speculate on it, but each one of us will have a new name. That is a precious thought. Verse 17 is in line with our present study:

Revelation 2

17…To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna…

Aren't there a lot of things that you would like to know that you do not know? Aren't there a lot of things that you would like to understand that even though you have studied the Word of God you have not been able to understand? Haven't there been mysteries in your life that you haven't been able to solve? You are a strange individual, indeed, if you have never asked the question, “Why?” I have some people who love the Lord tell me, “I never ask why.” Well, I do! I want to know why. I do not always find out, but when I get to Heaven, I am going to be fed on the hidden manna, that which is hidden to me now but will be revealed at that time; and then, as the Scriptures say, “I shall know even as also I am known” (I Corinthians 13:12). Then I will understand much that I do not understand now.

Can you see why it was that Moses said, “Aaron, take five pints of that manna, put it in a golden vessel, and put it in the Ark of the Covenant for a memorial, so people will understand what it means to have life sustained through Christ.”? Remember what Paul said? “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).


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