Still The Manna Fell
By Eli Stutzman
July 1, 2008
One of the more familiar stories from the Old Testament is about the time when the children of Israel needed food and God gave them manna.
Exodus 16:35 And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
This fills me with wonder at the size of God's grace. As they were in the desert after fleeing Egypt, it was not possible to grow grain of any kind. So each morning, they went out and gathered manna, one omer for each person. An omer is about 1/10 bushel. An omer may have weighed about 5 pounds, more or less. Now there were 600,000 people that left Egypt, not counting women and children. The sheer amount of manna rained from heaven over the forty year period is staggering. Every day's supply would fill many truckloads. If you do a little math, forty years is about 14,600 days.
Joshua 5:12 And the manna ceased on the morrow, after they had eaten of the produce of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
Consider how often they offended God as they traveled through the desert. Moses hadn't even returned from the mountaintop when they were making the golden calf! Even though they sinned greatly at times, still every morning manna came down from heaven. When the destroying serpents made their way through the camp, still the manna fell. Here we see grace at work. Undeserved supply of food simply because God had said so. No one ever had to plow, weed or harvest the ‘manna fields'. No crop failures. No worry about the weather or insects. All that you had to do was gather the one omer per person allowed. What does this story mean to us today?
God is teaching us that when He makes a promise, He will keep it, no matter how badly we fail. Had God caused manna to not fall any more, the children of Israel would have perished in short order. The nations around would have quickly finished them off. The word would have been, "God delivered them out of Egypt and couldn't bring them through." Even though Israel was often punished, they still had manna for food. If you choose to do the math on the amount of manna, it will become apparent that God is not short on grace.
This story gives an illustration of what grace really is. Grace has been called "undeserved merit". Put more simply, God gives us things we didn't earn. Nobody had to do anything to earn manna. Just get out there and gather it. The manna was a free gift to the people who were delivered from Egypt. No other neighboring countries got manna, only the people to whom it was promised.
Now there were many nations around the area that worshipped idols, yet they did not receive the same punishment as God's own children did. They also did not experience God's grace, the daily manna. When God adopts us into his family as children, he too has a right to chastise us at the same time as we are receiving his grace. The German word for grace is gnade.
Mercy is another story. The German word is barmherzig. When we break the law, we are required to pay the penalty, even if we disagree with the law. Our own reasoning will not change the law. We are found guilty and must pay the penalty. Our only hope is mercy. How can we find mercy when all the evidence is against us? It all depends on the judge. Does he have mercy?
Psalm 100:5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
He has mercy to all who come to Him, He is full of grace too! And in this we can find assurance because His Word says so.
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