The Ceasing of the Manna
The giving of the manna to the Israelites was one of the most notable providences of the exodus. It happened when the pilgrims had struck inland and were faced with the starvation of the desert. The desert was probably more fertile then than it is now, but even then it was utterly inadequate to provide for that mighty and marching company. Faced by certain starvation, as they thought, we can hardly wonder that Israel began to murmur. "Would to God," they cried, "we had been left to die in Egypt, where at least we had food to satisfy our hunger." And it was then, in the hour of their extremity when faced by the gaunt specter of starvation, that God wrought the miracle of manna. From that day onward it had never failed, in spite of all murmuring and all rebellion. If the gifts of God depended on man's faith, the manna would have vanished very quickly. But day after day, through fret and sin and cowardice, God held to His purpose, as He always does, for the long-suffering of God is our salvation.1 But now the forty years' journeying was over. The need was gone, and so the manna ceased. Israel awoke, and the ground was no longer white; it was all golden with the ripened corn. And I think you can picture the look of wild astonishment which would flash in an instant into a thousand eyes on that morning of the ceasing of the manna. There was deep doctrine in the giving of the manna. There was doctrine not less deep in its withdrawal. God had His lessons to teach Israel then and through Israel to teach us all. And so tonight, speaking in modern language and thinking of our own needs and lives, I want to touch on the interior meanings that are wrapped up in the ceasing of the manna.
In the first place the ceasing of the manna should teach us that there is inevitable loss in all our gains. It was a great thing for Israel to gain the plains of Jericho, but when they had done so, they lost the bread of angels. For fo ...
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