EATING IN THE WILDERNESS
After the Israelites left Egypt, they were sustained in the wilderness for forty years. As the Jews many years later told the Lord, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat” (John 6:31; cf. Exo. 16:4, 15).
Bored with Manna
Manna was their only food day after day. Not surprisingly, they soon wearied of such a monotonous diet. Their thoughts went back to Egypt, and they complained to Moses, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes” (Num. 11:5-6).
These varied foods that came out of the water or out of the soil of Egypt were enjoyed not only by the Israelites and the Egyptians. Even you may have wearied of a constant diet of messages week after week and turned to the foods that Egypt had to offer. Rather than hearing about Christ and the church in message after message, some have promoted more entertaining meetings. Guitar playing, special singing, joking, and emotional stirrings are like leeks, onions, and garlic from Egypt’s soil. You may have enjoyed those meetings, but you must admit there was no manna.
Refreshed and Enlightened
Now we have come back to the manna. Do not think Christ is boring! We must learn how to cook Him in appetizing ways.
“And 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” (Exo. 16:14). With Christ there is the freshness of the dew. He is also as refreshing as the frost. In warm climates we miss the refreshing air that comes with frost. Such is Christ to us.
In verse 31 the manna is said to be “like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Numbers 11:7 adds, “And the color thereof was as the color of bdellium.” The color means appearance or, literally, eye. By eating Christ as the manna, you have eyes to see clearly. Consider how much light you have received since you came into the church and began receiving Christ as the manna. The eyes on the manna have given you a clear view. The bdellium mentioned here is a pearl of wood resin. It is transparent. If you have kept enjoying this manna, you have had a clear sky, with no opaqueness or blindness. But if you have found in the meetings a lack of direction, the aimlessness may have come from eating the onions, leeks, and garlic of Egypt; the effect of that diet is to blind you.
“And the people went about, 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 oil” (Num. 11:8). There are different ways of preparing the manna. We all have to experience Christ and then learn to serve the saints delicious courses of Him. In this way we eat the rich supply of manna.
“And 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” (Exo. 16:35). Manna was the food with which God supplied His people throughout their wilderness wanderings.
You probably remember the occasion when, because of their complaining, God sent quails for them to eat. In response to their cry, “Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (Num. 11:4) “there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth” (v. 31). The quails were eaten in rebellion and provoked God’s judgment. “While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague” (v. 33).
This incident has reminded me of these recent years in the recovery. After hearing so much about the need to have Christ wrought into us, some turned away from that, claiming it was too hard to listen to, and encouraged the young people to be themselves rather than be transformed. To replace the manna with quails from the sea is rebellion. God’s ordination is that we eat manna day after day.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 27, by Witness Lee)