The Book of Joshua

16. The Manna.

"And 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." — Joshua 5:12.

"… He that eats Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven." — John 6:57-58.

Manna was the food of Israel in the wilderness. It was the divine provision for them for the term of their wanderings — "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" (Ex. 16:35). It fell morning by morning, and they gathered early, and according to their eating. It was found where had been the dew of heaven that fell around the camp — "when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing" (ver. 14). The barren wilderness received upon its face the dew, and where the moisture, collecting invisibly and falling from above, lodged upon the ground, God spread the angel's food for man — "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." The Spirit of God, through whom Christ is presented to us, and Christ our food, are thus before us. "The bread of God is He which comes down from heaven" (John 6:33), and we find Him, we may say, where the Holy Spirit presents Him to us. The Christian's food, as he traverses this wilderness, is not of the earth, but from and of heaven. Our spiritual sustenance here is to be gathered diligently day by day, early in the morning before the sun is up, and the day of our toil is upon us.

In the wilderness Israel gathered the manna according to their several needs. Jehovah provided for them according to the measure of their requirements. Thus, too, do we receive of Christ. We hunger, and find Christ to supply our daily wants, and ever the diligent hand, the early seeker, receives a peculiar blessing. "They gathered, some more, some less;" they gathered, not according to the abundance of the divine supply, but "every man according to his eating" (Ex. 16:17-18). How true is this principle regarding soul-hunger, for what different appetites for heavenly things have God's people! Some find half an hour over the Bible a long time; others meditate therein day and night. Yet while this is so of us, when all the gathered manna, was measured, it was "an omer for every man" — every man had sufficient, every man's need was absolutely met, for the measure was the satisfaction of every man.

In Canaan Israel ate the corn of the land, the native food of Canaan — the exhaustless supply, as we may express ourselves, of the promised possession. The corn of the land, like the manna for the wilderness, is a figure to us of Christ, the food of His people; but in the corn we have the abiding supply of heaven itself before us, Christ risen from the dead, and for the measure of the supply, not the need of a hungering saint on earth, but Himself in His exhaustless fulness. In the four gospels we see Christ as the manna, Jesus on earth, and walking among men; in those Scriptures which present Him as the glorified and ascended Son of God, we see Him as the corn of the land. Ever and always the same Jesus, but in the one case coming down to our need, in the other in the glory of God.

The measure of the manna that fell in the wilderness was according to the daily need of Israel; day by day there was enough for every one of all the host, and not one single soul was forgotten in the divine reckoning. God, in His loving care, counted His people, and provided exactly every morning for them according to their numbers. Most cheering is this consideration. Every single saint on earth, whatever his soul-hunger, has only to go to Christ; little children, aged believers — all have this gracious word, "He that comes to Me shall never hunger" (John 6:35). The measure of the corn in Canaan was the abundance of the land itself — the honey, the wheat, the oil and wine, all that Canaan produced. As we apprehend what Christ is in Himself as the corn of the land, our souls enter into a wealth of immeasurable blessing and fulness. His fulness, not our need, is thus before our souls. Christ, as risen from the dead, is our portion. Let us seek to know Him as He is, and the more of Him we lay hold of, the more we shall say there is to be laid hold of; His glories, His grace, His love, are exhaustless.

Apprehending Christ as the corn of the land, and feeding on Him in His exhaustless fulness, will in no way deprive us of zeal in searching for Him daily for our ever-recurring need. Though the manna ceased for Israel when they ate of the corn of Canaan, the manna ceases not for us so long as we are on earth. We need Him every day and every hour, and as much at the end as at the beginning of our journey. We are spiritually both in the wilderness and in Canaan; we are partakers on earth of the heavenly calling, and we are seated in Christ in the heavenly places. The enjoyment of the favours of God to us, in the heavenly places in Christ, enhances the sense of His favours to us as in the wilderness. Grace never displaces grace, nor does one divine favour militate against another; all God's ways are perfect, and every token of His grace adds lustre to that grace. A believer setting up one glory of the favour of God against another, is like a man beholding the full displayed glories of the heavens above him on a clear night, and despising the beauties of some stars because they differ from others in glory.

For a few days Israel had the food of the wilderness in Canaan, but the harvest enjoyed by them, the manna ceased. When we reach glory we shall not need the present daily supply of grace, for we shall be with Christ. We shall see Him as He is. We shall apprehend Him in heaven. Exhaustless blessing will be ours for ever. His fulness will be our endless portion; we shall ever be satisfied, and we shall ever find our joy in Him.