Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to a very deep matter concerning manna: the keeping of an omer of manna in a pot before the Lord for future generations (16:31-36). The commandment to lay up this portion of manna before the Lord was somewhat unusual. Nowhere else in the Bible do we read that God commanded His people to preserve an item of food before Him for coming generations. But after the children of Israel had begun to enjoy manna, God charged them to “take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before Jehovah” (16:33, Heb.). Later we shall see that the manna was placed in a golden pot (Heb. 9:4).
What is the significance of the commandment to preserve an omer of manna, the heavenly food for God’s people? Why was the manna placed in a golden pot, and why was it put into the ark along with the tables of the covenant? The manna was in the pot, the pot was in the ark, and the ark was in the Holy of Holies. Furthermore, the Holy of Holies was in the tabernacle, and the tabernacle was surrounded by the fence of the outer court. Within the outer court was the tabernacle, within the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies, within the Holy of Holies was the ark, within the ark was the pot, and within the golden pot was an omer of manna.
Apparently the ark was the focal point of the tabernacle. Actually, the manna preserved in the pot placed within the ark was the central point. The manna in the pot was hidden under five layers of coverings. The actual focal point, therefore, was the manna in the golden pot.
We would do well to ask ourselves what is the focal point of our Christian life. Just as the manna in the golden pot was the focal point of God’s dwelling place, so Christ as the manna eaten by us should be the focal point of our being. The tabernacle was God’s dwelling place in the Old Testament, and we are God’s dwelling place today. From the standpoint of experience, we may consider ourselves as identical to the tabernacle, for the tabernacle was God’s building, and we are also His building. The church is God’s tabernacle today. We are corporately identical to the tabernacle because we are part of the church. As part of the church, the focal point of our being should be manna. To describe this manna in a fuller way, we may say that this manna is the Christ we have eaten, digested, and assimilated. Hence, the focal point of God’s building today is the Christ eaten, digested, and assimilated by His people.
Now we can understand why God commanded that a certain amount of manna be kept in a golden pot before Him. This indicates that the Christ whom we have eaten, digested, and assimilated is our center. What is the center of your being today? To say that our center is manna would be to use an Old Testament term. In New Testament terminology, we should answer that the center of our being is the very Christ we have eaten, digested, and assimilated. I can boldly testify that the focal point of my being is such a Christ.
The manna that was kept in the pot was preserved to be a memorial before God for the coming generations. Exodus 16:32 says, “Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.” As we consider this record from the standpoint of our experience, we see that as we partake of Christ day by day, we are also preserving Him. Many Christians, however, are not preserving very much of Christ. We all need to preserve Christ. Before I came into the church life, I did not preserve much of Christ. But by the Lord’s mercy I can testify that during the past thirty years I have preserved a great deal of Christ. In this matter, I am very happy for the young people. Even the young ones among us are blessed in preserving a good amount of Christ. The amount of Christ we preserve depends on the amount of Christ we eat. The more we eat Christ, the more we preserve Him.
In the Old Testament manna was preserved in proportion to the gathering and the eating. In 16:33 Moses told Aaron to put an omer full of manna in the pot. In the collecting and eating of manna, some of the children of Israel may have been greedy, whereas others may have been lazy. According to 16:16 the people gathered “an omer for every man.” In verse 17 we are told that the children of Israel “gathered, some more, some less.” However, after they had measured the manna which had been gathered, “he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack” (v. 18). Those who were greedy in their gathering of manna received one omer, and those who were lazy also received one omer. According to our measurement, the manna we gather may measure much more than an omer. But according to God’s measurement, its measure is exactly one omer. In spiritual things we should not be greedy. No matter how capable we are in collecting manna, eventually we all receive one omer.
We have seen that the amount of manna collected each morning came to one omer for each person. The amount of manna that was eaten each day also was one omer for each person. No matter how great a person’s appetite or capacity was, he ate one omer of manna. On the other hand, a person whose appetite and capacity were small also ate an omer.
The fact that an omer of manna was kept in the pot indicates that the amount of manna to be preserved was the same as the amount collected and eaten. This indicates that we cannot keep more of Christ than we gather and eat. Rather, we collect and eat a certain amount, and we preserve that same amount. Using Old Testament terms, what we collect and eat measures an omer, and what we preserve also measures an omer. No matter how much we collect, we still have one omer. Likewise, no matter how much we are able to eat, we still eat just one omer.
The children of Israel were not permitted to save up the manna for the next day. In 16:19 Moses told the people, “Let no man leave of it till the morning.” Nevertheless, “they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until morning, and it bred worms, and stank” (v. 20). It was necessary for the children of Israel to eat their allotment of manna each day. If they tried to keep it until the next morning, it would become rotten. This indicates that to save according to the natural concept is not biblical.
In Matthew 6:34 the Lord Jesus tells us not to be anxious about tomorrow. Let tomorrow be tomorrow. Do not worry about it. Those who worry about tomorrow will try to save as much as possible. Such saving is never for today, but always for tomorrow. However, we should not live a life of tomorrow. We have only today—we do not have tomorrow. No one can live tomorrow. Every morning we should simply gather manna. We should be neither greedy nor lazy, but collect manna according to God’s word. God tells us to gather manna in the morning, and we do so according to Him. Then after grinding, beating, or boiling the manna, we eat it. What a peace and rest to eat manna like this day by day! We have a restful and peaceful life without worries and problems. Every day we eat our daily portion of manna and live one day at a time.
The point here is that God commanded the people to keep one omer of manna, the very amount they collected and ate each day. This indicates that the amount of Christ we eat is the amount we can preserve. God does not command us to preserve any other kind of food before Him. But He does require us to preserve an amount of Christ which equals the amount we have eaten of Him.
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