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Leftover Manna

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Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”[1]

When God provides for us there is almost always instruction.  As much as He will teach us through adversity, He will teach us through His faithfulness.  I believe that this is God’s preferable method of teaching us.  Most of us however miss the lesson or forget it quickly and it would seem that we learn most effectively through adversity.

Learning to take what we need.

q      It is a daily activity, receiving from God.  He gives you today what you need today – not what you will need tomorrow.

q      What we need is no different than what anyone else needs. There was a specific measure.  There are times when we would like to justify our consumption by insisting that we need more than others.  They were to take on omer (about two quarts) per person in the family.  If you could take inventory of your life today and divide everything that you own into one of two categories, that which you absolutely cannot do without (needs) and that which you could survive without, you might appreciate more what you have been given.

q      Manna was God’s specific answer to their need, heavenly bread.  They saw it and didn’t know what was.  Thus the meaning of the name “manna” – “What is it?”  Christ was heaven’s specific answer to man’s need as well.  He still is today.  Regardless of what you may look backward and long for, God knows your need.  He knows that what you think will satisfy you, will only increase your longing.  The longer we try to satisfy our own needs the more desperate and disappointed we become.  They longed for the days in Egypt when they had plenty to eat.  They forgot that they suffered in bondage each day, working as slaves.

Jesus was God’s manna.  The Bread of Heaven.

John 6:31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ a”  32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.[2]

1      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood a it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.  7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.  8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. b 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—  13 children born not of natural descent, c nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, d who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [3]

What is the application here?  Basically that like these folks in the wilderness, we fail to see what God does for us and to accept it.  It is not so much that God does not hear and answer our prayers but that His answer does not meet with our approval and so we look for something else.

2. Learning to use what we’ve got.

What God gives you is meant to be used today.  It is meant to be spent not saved.  Don’t hold back.  There are certain things that you can’t carry over into tomorrow.  We understand that with vacations or sick leave or time – what we don’t use well is forever gone.  Missed opportunities may never recur. 

What was left over from what they had been given went bad.  If the daily provision of manna was just enough then for people to have something left meant that on the previous day they failed to consume what they needed.  Therefore they forsook their daily needs in favor of imagined needs on the next day.  They were “rationers”.

Present Tense

It was spring

But it was summer I wanted,

The warm days,

And the great outdoors.

It was summer,

But it was fall I wanted,

The colorful leaves and the cool dry air.

It was fall,

But it was the winter I wanted,

The beautiful snow,

And the joy of the holiday season.

It was winter,

But it was spring I wanted,

The warmth

And the blossoming of nature.

I was a child,

But it was adulthood I wanted.

The freedom,

And the respect.

I was 20

But it was 30 I wanted,

To be mature,

And sophisticated.

I was middle-aged,

 But it was 20 I wanted,

The youth,

And the free spirit.

I was retired,

But it was middle-aged I wanted,

The presence of mind,

Without limitations,

My life was over.

But I never got what I wanted.


The Present is the point at which Time touches Eternity.  Of the present moment -- and of it only -- humans have an experience analogous to the experience which God has of reality as a whole; in it alone, freedom and actuality are offered them.  He would therefore have them continually concerned either with Eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present -- either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself; or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Screwtape Letters

How many spiritual gift tests will you take before you begin to use what you have been given.  What are spiritual gifts?  They are abilities, talents, particular driving passions that you have for a certain activity or cause or “thing”.  I think that our gifting from God is a combination of our personalities, our passion and values and our aptitudes.  Many people have aptitudes for things that they never develop into full blown capabilities.  The church is at it’s best when it does not limit the involvement of it’s people by the nature of the programs that it runs.  The effective church will engage in a process of discovery with people so that they can identify what is God-given and natural within them and then free them to construct a way to use those gifts.  We need to get away from evaluating the success of given efforts by the number of people who show up in one place at one time.  We had maybe 10 people in prayer meeting on Wednesday evening.  Does that mean that only 10 people prayed this week?  No it does not.  Does that mean that it is not worth having a prayer meeting?  No it does not.  I would encourage you to set aside time to pray with others but I refuse to shame people into something that should be an absolute joy.  That is counterproductive, to drag someone before god and then subject them to a time of prayer.  I believe that prayer consciousness within an individual’s life is something that God highlights the worth of sooner or later in the heart of his people.  People who already experience time with God and enjoy it are better off to pray that God will create that hunger in others.  When we try to do it we drive folks farther away.  It’s true in homes where one spouse wants to pray with another.  It’s true in churches where it’s people are “becomers”.  That’s what we are – not “has-beens” or “wanna-be’s”  or “already-arrived’s”, but “becomers.

3. Learning to do what we’ve been told.

Probably half the trick is learning to listen to God.  Maybe one of the reasons that it is so difficult is that we have a hard time ceasing our activities.  We want always to be doing two or three or more things at the same time.  One common complaint that wives make of their husbands is that they don’t know how to listen.  They can’t give undivided attention.  I am guilty too many times.  I apologize for any complications that I may have brought to someone else’s life because I have failed to listen.

I am sorry but I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone.  There is no greater compliment that you can give a person than time and undivided attention.  Unconsciously we communicate a message or our estimation of the worth of another person by our willingness to listen.  Strangely enough, people who listen best to others are the most effective and influential in their lives.  Preachers and teachers and mothers and fathers . . . .  and others think that we must be forever exhorting and admonishing because what we have to say will make the vital difference in a person’s life.  Paul refers to the foolishness of preaching. 

After church on Sunday morning, a young boy suddenly announced to his mother, "Mom, I've decided I'm going to be a minister when I grow up.

"That's okay with us," the mother said, "but what made you decide to be a minister?"

"Well," the boy replied, "I'll have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I figure it will be more fun to stand up and yell than to sit still and listen.

I understand that term from the perspective that in any sermon it is not what I say to you that makes any difference at all – it is what God says to you that will make the difference.  But I still think that we need to endure this exercise – I enjoy it – Why?  Because it makes you stop, it causes you to be quiet, to reflect.  I think personally that this is why the whole idea of the Lord’s Day is so important.  It is not the Sabbath that we observe but the Lord’s Day, a day that serves the same purpose.  Like the manna, it is a gift.  Something that God gives you because He knows what you need.

Exodus 1622 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers b for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.  23 He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’” 24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it.  25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today.  26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.” 27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none.  28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you c refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?  29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.”  30 So the people rested on the seventh day. [4]

q      One day in the week that they were to make preparations for.

q      On that day they were to rest and do nothing

q      On that day God made no provision for them.  God’s provisions are related to our activity.

The Lord’s Day is a day when you give your attention to the important things of life, when you recognize what those things truly are and prioritize them by the time that you set aside.  It’s like weekly retirement.  We’d be better off through the years if we would discipline ourselves to stop and listen and rest.

16:31-36. The people . . . called the bread manna (mān hû’, “what is it?” cf. v. 15). It was in thin flakes (v. 14), white like coriander seed (an herb), looked like resin (Num. 11:7, perhaps meaning it was light-colored and/or sticky), and it tasted like honey wafers. It also had the taste of “something made with olive oil” (Num. 11:8). Some writers have suggested that the manna was a sweet-tasting excretion left by insects on the twigs of tamarisk trees in June and July. However, manna was provided year-round, on the ground, and the tamarisk excretion does not spoil within 24 hours.

Then God told Moses to keep an omer of manna, about two quarts (or 1/10 of an ephah, Ex. 16:36), in a jar as a reminder of God’s goodness for future generations. The manna was to be placed in front of the Testimony (v. 34). “The Testimony” refers to the two tablets of the Law (25:16; 31:18; 32:15; 34:29) which were in “the ark [of the covenant] of the Testimony” (25:16, 21) in the most holy place. The Hebrew word (and the corresponding Akk. word) for “Testimony” may have been a technical term to designate covenant stipulations. For a discussion of whether the manna was kept in the ark, as Hebrews 9:4 suggests, or in front of it see comments on 2 Chronicles 5:10.

The Lord continued to supply manna until the nation came to Gilgal, where they began to eat the products of the land (Josh. 5:12). The manna in the ark was a perpetual reminder of God’s loyalty to His people in supplying their needs. Jesus, referring to the Israelites’ manna (John 6:31, 49, 58), called Himself “the true [spiritual] Bread from heaven” (John 6:32), “the Bread of God . . . from heaven” (John 6:33), “the Bread of life” (John 6:35, 48), and “the Living Bread . . . from heaven” (John 6:51). Everyone who believes in Him, He said, would have eternal life (John 6:33, 51, 58).



[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ex 16:4-5). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 a Exodus 16:4; Neh. 9:15; Psalm 78:24,25

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Jn 6:31-36). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 c Greek of bloods

 d Or the Only Begotten

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Jn 1:1-14). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 b That is, probably about 4 quarts (about 4.5 liters)

 c The Hebrew is plural.

[4]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ex 16:22-30). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

cf. confer, compare

v. verse

[5]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ex 16:31). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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