„The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
We all know the story of Israel's 40-year wandering in the desert, the Lord ordered manna for them as food. What we must know about the manna is that it is not only given by God as food, but also as a sign and for the purpose of teaching. As we read in the opening verse, through the manna God made it known that man lives with everything that comes from the Lord's mouth, so we live by His word!
We also know about the manna that it was given to everyone equally, so regardless of how much someone tried to collect, in the end they got the same amount as everyone else. With this, God teaches us equality. Paul also confirms this:
„But as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you--see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, "Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
God teaches us equality in many places in the Bible, but now let's go further on the thread of manna. It also teaches something else, that just as the manna was available to the whole community, so the word of God is also available to us. You have to find it, collect it, and most importantly: eat it!
We know about the manna that if it was not eaten on the day it was gathered, there were worms in it the next day (except on Shabbat). Why did the Lord want it that way? Worms in God's word? This was also given by God as a teaching. Because only the manna that was not eaten became wormy. If they ate what they gathered, then the manna could not become wormy. This is the point!
„And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”
God's word does not tolerate delay, otherwise, if we postpone the action of the word, then the worms will testify against us. How many will end up in hell because they were only listeners to God's word! These worms will remind them that they were only observers of the word of God:
„And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'”
They know, but they don't act. God informed Israel not to leave any of it for the next day, but some of them did (Exodus 16:19-20)! Even now, many people read God's word, God's requests in them, they know, but they don't do it. The worms will remind those for an eternity, for whom the word of God became not a blessing, but a curse (Deuteronomy 11:26-32).
The title of today's teaching is: "Manna", but actually in other words it is: "The Word of God". If our guide is only the word of God, who we know by another name: Jesus, then we will never deviate from the narrow path that leads to salvation through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:14). There is power in Jesus, so there is power in the word of God. Jesus also spent 40 days in the wilderness to teach us a lesson. We know from the word of God that when the spies went to spy out the land of Canaan, the spies were away for 40 days, and then they returned and discouraged the hearts of the people by saying that they could not defeat the people living in it. God therefore changed the 40 days into 40 years of punishment:
„But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.' I, the LORD, have spoken…”
Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, and when he was hungry, the Devil came to tempt him. Let's learn from Jesus how he overcame temptation:
„Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
As we can see, Jesus did not go into details, he immediately answered with the word of God. He did not begin to explain why it would not be good for him to act on Satan's word. Let's remember the fall of the first human couple, Eve's conversation with the snake:
„Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."”
Eve made a fatal mistake, she began to explain to the snake. Jesus didn't do that! It would have been enough if Eve simply said that God told us not to eat! But he expanded it by saying because otherwise we die. This gave the snake an opportunity to discourage Eve! This is how many Christians fail today! We don't need to understand, we don't need to explain why God forbids something! Let it be enough for us that God says: NO! Obedience to God is the basis of our faith. And the Devil will be forced to move away, because he will not be confronted with our thoughts, but with God. And he will not argue with God, although Christians love to do so.
Author: Antal Farkas