A Devotion for 8 October 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:31-40
There are many today who suffer and linger in spiritual malnutrition for they feed not on the Manna of Heaven, but that manna of the Wilderness which was a mere shadow of that Manna of Heaven which was to come in Christ Jesus our Lord. Just as Isaac came as a miracle of conception from God as a fore-shadow of the Only Begotten Son who, likewise, was born by a miracle of conception, so the manna of Moses’ day is a fore-shadow of that better Manna which would descend from God in the due process of time.
We had a picture of the Redeemer of our sins in Boaz – the kinsman redeemer of Ruth – which showed us that we, too, would have a kinsman Redeemer, made in the flesh, like as we are, in our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Book of Ruth is actually a parable of the Gospel of Christ tucked away between the time of the Judges when “every man did that which was right in his own mind,” and the time of the anointing of Kings Saul and David. We have that nearest kinsman redeemer by way of adoption through the redemption of Christ. Ruth, a Moabite, had no blood claim to the family of Abraham, but she was brought into the genealogical line of Christ by way of marriage to Boaz. So may we as the family of God in the Church.
I remember as a child being enthralled by the rainbow-like gleams emitted by the dew drops on my mother’s flower plants each spring morning. It had not rained overnight, yet the vegetation was as wet as any that had been irrigated with a garden hose. How did it come to be there? It came during the still, quiet hours of the night. The drops of dew formed imperceptibly through the process of condensation as the drops formed on the plants and flowers – a reminder of the ante-deluvian Creation. (see Genesis 2:5-6) “5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”
The first manna came in like manner to the dew of Heaven. “13 . . . and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. 14 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. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.” Exodus 16:13-15
There are several significant characteristics of this first manna and the counsel of God regarding it. I will not place all the Scripture texts in the devotion, but encourage each of you to read Exodus 16 for a full understanding apart from my summary. First of all, Aaron stored up a pot of the Manna to place later in the Ark of the covenant. “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.” Exodus 16:33 As you will recall, the Ark of the Covenant contained the Tables of the Law, the Rod of Aaron, and a golden vessel containing that same manna collected by Aaron. Above the Ark of the Covenant was the Mercy Seat representing the Redemption made available through our Lord Jesus Christ. The children of Israel were to collect their daily ration of manna each morning saving none for the following day except for the Sabbath. We need our daily Bread of God’s word every day lest we faint or grow weary in the spirit. We cannot save up our imputed righteousness granted by Christ, we must daily partake of that Manna from Heaven which is Christ – He is the Bread of Heaven. “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. … I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” We cannot live by faith one day, and by chance the next.
The Children were further instructed: “23 This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.” Exodus 16:23-24 Remember that the Holy One of Israel (Jesus Christ) did not see corruption. He rested over the Sabbath Day in a borrowed Tomb. On the third day, He arose without having His body subject to decay or worms. There comes an eternal Sabbath at the great Day of the Lord in which no labor need be done – we will have stored up our Bread of Heaven sufficient for that day.
We have eaten the manna of Law and Judgment in our Wilderness journey. We have been as people raised from the dead. The first manna was given as a means to teach us of the coming Second Manna: “3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” Deuteronomy 8:3 Jesus taught us in Parables of types and shadows in order for us to understand mysteries that had thitherto remained hidden. The Bread He offers is not made of the grains of the earth, but those of Heaven. Being the Bread of Life, or the Bread that came down from Heaven, Jesus is our Maker and our Bridegroom. We are His body and have become partakers of that Bread. “ 5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” Isaiah 54:5
Jesus removes all doubt about the source and nature of that Bread: “48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:48-51
Just as the dew condenses and forms on the plants of the Garden – unseen and unheard – so does the Holy Ghost move upon the hearts and souls of the called and chosen of God to draw them to that Mercy Seat of Christ ABOVE the Law and old manna of the Ark of the Covenant. Grace trumps Law!
If we will be nourished with our daily fare of Manna, or Bread from Heaven, we must have an intimate knowledge of that Bread, which is our Lord Jesus Christ, through daily collection, consumption and digestion of that Bread. It must be gathered from the Word which God has given us in Holy Writ. It must become an integral part of our being. We achieve this by diligent Bible study, by searching out gems of truth therein, by making our hearts the depository of those truths and mysteries revealed alone to His elect, and by allowing those Beacon-Lights of truth and love to guide our daily lives in service to God and man.
We take no vacations from our spiritual duties – we cannot rely on our rendered services of the past. We must labor while there is yet light, for “the night cometh when no man can work.” “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4
There are no bounds or limits to love and service in Christ except our lack of willingness to be used of God in those things. Here is an illustration from more than a century ago to confirm this truth in parabolic fashion:
“When the Massachusetts legislature were discussing the propriety of granting an act of incorporation to a missionary society, one of the members remarked that it seemed to be an arrangement for exporting religion, when in fact we had none to spare. He was answered that religion was a commodity of which the more we exported the more we had left. The man who strives to shut up fire in order to preserve it will soon find he has nothing left but ashes. We get the best fire by throwing it open that others may share its warmth. We get the purest water for ourselves by allowing it to flow on and bless others.” — Rev. H. L. Hastings, D. D.