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Joshua 5:12 -

The special and the customary.

This verse is one of the proofs that the supply of manna was miraculous, ceasing as it did at the exact moment when it was no longer needed. Other proofs are, that a double portion fell each Friday, and none on the Sabbath; and that if kept longer than a day it became corrupt and stank, except on the day of rest, when it remained pure and wholesome. Let us look at—

I. Manna, as A SPECIAL PROVISION FOR A SPECIAL EXIGENCY .

1 . The exigency shows us that even under the guidance of God there is no exemption from trial. At first all had seemed easy and comfortable. Passing through the sea as on dry ground, the Israelites soon beheld their late tyrants dead on the seashore. The bitter waters of Marah were sweetened and Elim furnished its wells and palm trees for their refreshment. A month passed. The dough cakes were nearly finished, and provisions began to fail. The murmuring of fear and discontent was heard. Those whom the sea had not devoured quaked lest the hungry wilderness should destroy them. Forgetting the tasks and bondage of Egypt, they remembered only its fleshpots, garlic, onions, and bread, and now they could wish rather to have died in ravenous plenty than live in noble penury. The Almighty will thus prove His people. He does not always conduct them by easy roads, for He values the discipline of their spirits more than the external comfort of their bodies. Faith is to be tested that it may come forth as "gold tried in the fire."

2 . The provision assures us that under the leadership of God all real wants will be supplied. The glory of the Lord had appeared in the cloud. Quails—feathered fowl—were sent in the evening, and in the morning, manna—bread from heaven. God would not suffer His people to remain in absolute need. He would give them the "finest of the wheat," and "honey out of the rock." They should have the bread of angels and the meat of kings. Infinite wisdom and might sit on the throne, and these are engaged for the believer's support. The light may flicker, it shall not be extinguished; or if ordinary sources of relief raft, other springs shall be discovered. "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." The gift by God of His beloved Son to die for the world is the transcendent example of God's benevolence. Christ is the true Manna, which satisfies the hunger of the soul. Christianity, or the scheme of redemption, is the remedy which Eternal Love has devised to meet the emergency of a sin stricken world hastening to ruin.

II. THE CESSATION OF THE MIRACULOUS SUPPLY teaches us—

1 . Not to expect to be furnished directly from God with what He enables us to procure by our own exertions. Apparently the inhabitants of the land had fled for refuge to Jericho and the neighbouring towns, abandoning to the Israelites the harvest ripening in the fields and the old stores housed in the granaries. The Almighty economises His acts. Extraordinary occurrences are for extraordinary needs. We see in the life of Christ that He would not perform wondrous works merely to gratify inordinate curiosity or to satisfy the demands of unreasonable scepticism. The lesson of realising our responsibilities is important. It will not do to indolently expect the Divine providence and power to supply the lack of human effort. Prayer and work must go together. Not only faith is necessary, but exertion, if the Divine purposes are to be accomplished. If on a specially appointed mission our Father may take care of us as He does of the birds of the air, it is ordinarily our duty to "sow and reap and gather into barns," but without anxiety or corroding care.

2 . To be thankful for a return to ordinary ways and means. The Israelites got tired even of "angels' food;" they loathed "this light bread," with all its sweetness. As at present constituted, variety is pleasing to men. Certainly man is not yet fitted for the splendours and employments of the beatific state. Moses and Elijah spent many days on the mount with God, but probably a return to earthly scenes was essential to their continued life. When glorified, man may be able to live entirely on the manna of heaven, the life hidden with Christ in God. In seasons of affliction wondrous revelations are sometimes granted; there is a support given which raises the soul above the surrounding sorrow, causing it to exclaim, "It is good to be here!" Deprived of the usual ordinances and channels of consolation, the Spirit ministers of the things of God, illumines the sacred page, makes the promise of Christ's presence a fulfilled reality. Nevertheless, it rejoices the Christian to be permitted to resume wonted occupations and to enjoy the customary privileges. To revel for a time in the glorious scenery of the Alps does not diminish the saris-faction with which we behold again the quiet beauty of our much-loved home. As the ceremonies connected with the passover were renewed, the exchange of manna for ordinary corn was at least fitting, if not absolutely necessary.

3 . The duty of keeping in remembrance past displays of the might and compassion of God. According to Exodus 16:32 , a (golden) pot was to be filled with manna and deposited in the ark as a memorial of grace and favour received in the wilderness. Naught more treacherous than the memory. The picture of the past is a dissolving view that grows fainter dally until it disappears from sight. To remember what the Almighty has done is pleasing to Him and beneficial to us. It rebukes ingratitude and faithlessness. Hence the need of erecting our altars, which shall call to mind continually the blessings which have been bestowed.

III. THE DIFFERENT FORM WHICH GOD 'S INTERPOSITIONS ASSUMED , varying according to the requirements of His people. The following verses narrate the appearance of Jehovah to Joshua, and the instructions given respecting the siege of Jericho. The stoppage of the manna nowise implied the withdrawal of the Divine presence. The tolls of the wilderness were left behind, the dangers of Palestine commenced. Help must be afforded by different means. And the Christian life calls into prominence certain principles at certain crises. Today we want food, tomorrow weapons; today strength, tomorrow guidance; now hope, then charity. We are variously tested; and manifold are the aids of the Divine Spirit; thus a perfect character is cultured. The text speaks to us of the everlasting rest into which we hope to enter. It shall be a Sabbath in which we shall live on the principles which were made ours during the working week, and it shall also be a Canaan where we shall no longer need the food of the wilderness. Faith, as trustful love, shall survive forever, whilst faith, as believing hope, shall vanish in glorious sight and full fruition. What a Passover shall that be when the Supper of the Lamb is celebrated! The intermediary dispensation shall terminate. "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." Can we anticipate with joy the renouncing of the life on earth for a life beyond the grave? "He that eateth me," said Christ, "shall live forever. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.."—A.

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