The Memorial Food
In earlier issues we have considered “The Memorial Name” and “The Memorial Feast.” Let us now consider “The Memorial Food,” the manna given by God to Israel. In this we have something unique for it is called “Angels’ food.” Man had never eaten of this before, nor will he ever eat of it again. It was God’s singular provision for His pilgrim people, Israel. In His faithfulness He supplied it every day for forty years until they reached the land of promise (Josh. 5:10-12). Regarding the memorial aspect of the manna we read, “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. And 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” (Ex. 16:32-33). Yes, God would not have them forget His marvellous provision.
There is at the very beginning of this story, however, one sad feature which we must notice, and that is the spiritual condition of the people of Israel. “The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” The nation was guilty of complaining, and that against their God-appointed leaders. It would definitely be good for us to read repeatedly the New Testament commentary upon their sin as given in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12; we all stumble so easily into the pit of murmuring, and thus make ourselves a ready prey for the enemy, Satan, who never loses an opportunity to strip us of our power. Is there anything so soul withering as a murmuring tongue? May the Lord deliver us from being numbered with these transgressors.
With relief we turn from this sad picture to contemplate their faithful covenant-keeping God, Who, in spite of their murmurings, opened up His bountiful hand to meet their urgent need. How like Him! Well might we sing, “Oh God of matchless grace.” What a sight met their eyes the very morning after this shameful behaviour. Over the ground lay heaven’s provision to meet the need of every soul in Israel. The people looked in amazement at the small, round, white, thing that lay like frost upon the ground. “It is manna!” they exclaimed. Actually they asked, what is it? “For they wist not what it was.”
In the Gospel according to John the Lord tells us that, although this was Israel’s food, it was also a type of Himself, “The Bread of God which cometh down from Heaven and giveth life to the world.” When the memorial portion of the manna was put in the golden pot, deposited in the ark of the covenant, and placed in the innermost sanctuary, surely, it was typical of “The Hidden Manna” (Rev. 2:17). Blessed be God! We know that yonder in the immediate presence of God is the very same Jesus Who came down from Heaven as the “Bread of Life.” There He is glorified “living in the power of an endless life,” and although for awhile He is hid from the eyes of men, He still remains the food for His beloved people.
The manna was wilderness fare; it was not for Canaan. Here, surely, is a lesson for us, for the world, although it may be a fair place for the worldling, is to the believer a dry barren wilderness. At this point I would give a word of warning, for it is here that we are apt to make shipwreck. Demas foundered here, “Having loved this present world.” Many another noble life since then has met the same fate. How it must have broken Paul’s heart to see his trusted companion break up on the rocks of worldliness! To change the figure, the world like a bear has hugged many a believer to death. Let us be on our guard. The world’s glitter can dim the brightest light, and its weighty demands paralyse the strongest arm.
The memorial food of God’s people reminds us that, “Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” “Heaven is our Fatherland, Heaven is our home.”
Let us view it from still another angle; in the golden pot there was a food that was suitable for all the different stages of physical development. It nourished the newly born babe, it empowered the full grown man, and it was relished by the pilgrim full of days. Young and old, weak and strong, found it the very best of food. Today, every believer can sing of the true Antitype of the manna, “Thou, Oh Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find.” The taste of the manna was sweet, “Like wafers made with honey.” This sweetness reminds us of the words of the bride in the Song of Solomon, “I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste.”
This memorial food has still other things to suggest. It brings to mind the fact that the spiritual food of the Christian has to be gathered fresh every morning, that every day one has to gather a new portion of the Divine provision. Fellow believer, it may be that you are weak. Could it be that you are suffering from spiritual malnutrition? Would it be possible that you have not been gathering your daily portion of Christ? Take care, you may soon become a spiritual dwarf, and as a result be disapproved by the Best of Masters, Christ. Be warned; let no morning pass without feeding at the heavenly board.
Little space remains for our last look at this instructive memorial. The manna was small, round, and white. It again speaks of Christ to the heart. Its smallness infers the profound humility of Christ; its roundness, the beautiful symmetry of Christ’s character; and its whiteness, the spotless purity of Christ’s manhood. O how beautiful and proportionate were the moral graces of our adorable Lord! Let us feed on Him, for as we feed on Christ we become like Christ, and what could be more desired than to experience that wonderful metamorphosis, to “be changed into the same image, from glory to glory.” Many more lessons might be drawn from this instructive memorial, but with space filled, we reluctantly turn away with souls crying out, “Christ is all.”