Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we need to consider some principles regarding spiritual food. The eating of spiritual food altogether depends upon the distance between us and the Lord. This distance determines how much spiritual food we can eat. If we are far off from the Lord, we cannot partake of any spiritual food. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, they could not eat the manna, because the manna was the spiritual food for God’s people in the wilderness. Those who were in the wilderness were closer to God than those who were in Egypt. At that time, God was not in Egypt; He was in the wilderness. If anyone wanted to partake of spiritual food, the heavenly manna, he had to leave Egypt and go into the wilderness. As long as the Israelites were in Egypt, they had no spiritual food. Even if an Israelite was in the wilderness, he still had to be near the camp of the children of Israel in order to partake of the manna. If he was far away from the camp, it would have been difficult for him to enjoy the heavenly manna. Anyone who wanted to eat the manna had to camp with the children of Israel. By this we see that the distance between us and the Lord is a very important matter in the enjoyment of spiritual food.
The manna came down near the camp, and only those who had come out of Egypt and who were camping with God’s people had the privilege of enjoying it. After the children of Israel had enjoyed the manna, God commanded the Israelites to present an omer of manna to Him (Exo. 16:33). The manna had come from God to them, and they offered a portion of it back to God. What is the hidden manna? The hidden manna is simply the top portion of the manna given by God and offered back to God. It is the special portion of manna. Once the manna had been presented to God, it was no longer the open manna; it had become the hidden manna because, after being presented to God, it was placed in a golden pot and hidden in the ark in the Holy of Holies within the tabernacle. Originally, the manna was under the sky in the open air. It was open to anything and anyone. But after the top portion had been presented to God and placed in the pot, it was hidden within the innermost part of the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, where it was placed before the testimony of God. Among the children of Israel was the tabernacle, within the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies, within the Holy of Holies was the ark, within the ark was the golden pot, and within the pot was the manna. Hence, manna was altogether hidden. In this way, the top portion of manna became hidden.
Suppose you are an Israelite who has come out of Egypt and who is camping with God’s people. You have the privilege of eating the open manna, but you do not have the right to enjoy the hidden manna. Because you are far off from the innermost chamber of the tabernacle, you do not have the right to enjoy the hidden manna. Where is God? He is in the Holy of Holies, in the innermost chamber of the tabernacle. Compared with the Egyptians and the others in the wilderness, you are closer to God. But, being outside the outer court of the tabernacle, you are not that close to Him. Although you may eventually come into the outer court, you still cannot enter into the Holy Place, much less into the Holy of Holies. If you are a priest, you may be in the Holy Place and be closer to God than the Levites who are serving in the outer court. Nevertheless, although you may be a priest ministering in the Holy Place, you are not yet in the Holy of Holies. Thus, there is still a distance between you and God. If you want to enjoy the hidden manna, there must be no distance between you and God. All the distance between you and the Lord must be eliminated.
In this message I do not care to explain what the hidden manna is, for the more I explain it, the more troubled you will be. Rather, I would ask this question: how close are you to the Lord? Is there still a distance between you and Him? If there is, you may enjoy the open manna, but you cannot eat the hidden manna. If we would partake of the hidden manna, there must be no distance between us and the Lord. This matter of distance is quite exposing. Although we may not know what the hidden manna is, we do know how far we are from the Lord. Where are you? Are you in Egypt? Are you in the wilderness, or across the street from the tabernacle? Are you in the outer court, the Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies? If we are honest, some would say that they are in the outer court of the church life. Even in the church life there are sections: the section of the outer court, the section of the Holy Place, and the section of the Holy of Holies. Even in the Holy of Holies there are some small sections. If you are in the outer court or in the Holy Place of the church life, you cannot touch the hidden manna. You can only eat the sacrifices on the altar or the showbread on the table. You are still not in the place where the hidden manna is.
After the children of Israel had entered into the good land, they ate the produce of the land. In the Old Testament we are told clearly that all the children of Israel who were in the good land could partake of the produce of the land at any time. But anyone who was outside the border of the land had no right to enjoy this produce. Here again we see the matter of distance. When the children of Israel came together to eat at the time of the three yearly feasts, they did not eat the general produce, but the portion of the produce which was purposely reserved for the feast. At ordinary times, the Israelites enjoyed the common portion. At the time of the feasts, however, they enjoyed the special portion, the one top tenth, because they were closer to God, having come together to meet around God’s dwelling place where they enjoyed the top portion of the produce of the good land, which they had offered to God (Deut. 12:17-18; 14:22-23). Another tenth of their produce was given to the priests and the Levites who served in the outer court or in the Holy Place and who were closer to God than most of the people were. Thus, the closer an Israelite was to God, the better was his enjoyment of the spiritual food. According to Numbers 18:26-28, after the priests and the Levites received the tithe, they offered one tenth of the tenth to the Lord. This topmost portion, which was offered to God as a heave offering, was then given to the high priest who ministered to God in the Holy of Holies. Since he was the one closest to God, he had the right to enjoy the topmost portion of the produce of the good land.
If we would be fed by God, we must be within the realm in which God feeds His people. Otherwise, we cannot enjoy any spiritual food. If we stay within this realm, we are privileged to enjoy spiritual food. However, if we remain close to the border of this realm, only the common part of the spiritual food will be ours. But if we come to the center, to God, we shall enjoy the better portion of this spiritual food. If I am an Israelite in the good land, I have the right to enjoy the common portion of the produce of the land. But if I seek God, going to the temple at the time of the yearly feasts, I shall be closer to the Lord and have the privilege of enjoying something better three times a year. This is not the common portion; it is a special portion of the produce of the land. If I am a Levite in the outer court or a priest in the Holy Place, I can enjoy a better portion of the produce of the land every day. If I am a high priest ministering in the presence of God, being so close to Him, I have the right to enjoy the best portion, the topmost portion, of the produce of the good land. Hence, the portion of the spiritual food which is ours depends upon the distance between us and the Lord.
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