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The Israelites murmur in the wilderness of Sin: quails are sent in the evening, and manna in the morning: some particular injunctions are given concerning the manna.
Before Christ 1491.
Exodus 16:1. Came unto the wilderness of Sin— The children of Israel continued some time at Elim, according to the account given in this verse, compared with the note on Exo 16:27 of the former chapter. It was now just a month since they had left Egypt. "We have a distinct view of Mount Sinai from Elim," says Dr. Shaw; "the wilderness, as it is called, of Sin, lying betwixt them. We traversed these plains in nine hours; being all the way diverted with the sight of lizards and vipers, which are here in great numbers. We were afterwards near twelve hours in passing the many windings and difficult ways which lie betwixt these deserts and those of Sinai. The latter consist of a beautiful plain, more than a league in breadth, and nearly three in length, lying open towards the north-east, where we enter it; but it is closed up to the southward by some of the lower eminences of Mount Sinai.
In this direction, likewise, the higher parts of this mountain make such encroachments upon the plain, that they divide it into two, each of them capacious enough to receive the whole encampment of the Israelites. That which lies to the eastward may be the desert of Sinai, properly so called, where Moses saw the angel of the Lord in the burning bush, while he was guarding the flocks of Jethro, ch. Exodus 3:2. A convent, called the convent of St. Catherine, is built over the place of this divine appearance. It is near three hundred feet square, and more than forty in height, being built partly of stone, partly with mud and mortar mixed together. [That which is supposed to have been] the more immediate place of the Shechinah is honoured with a little chapel, which the old fraternity of St. Basil has in such esteem and veneration, that, in imitation of Moses, they put off the shoes from off their feet whenever they enter it."
Exodus 16:2. The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured— The whole congregation seems to denote a more universal murmur, than the words the people imply in Exo 16:24 of the last chapter. The vice grew contagious; and this strangely ungrateful people not only exaggerate, in a shameful manner, their present difficulties, but even revile their Deliverer, for the undeserved preservation which he had vouchsafed to them amid the destruction of the first-born in Egypt. Would to God we had died, &c. Exodus 16:3. Nothing can more strongly mark their abject and servile temper. Is this thy gratitude to GOD, O Israel! for his wonderful mercies towards thee? Thy goodness is as a morning-cloud, and as the early dew it passeth away. Hosea 6:4.
Exodus 16:4. Then said the Lord unto Moses— This was, no doubt, in answer to Moses's application by prayer to the Lord on account of these murmurings; when Jehovah was graciously pleased to promise them bread from heaven, sent down in daily showers, to keep the people in perpetual dependence upon him; and to prove whether, under this daily admonition from heaven, they would walk in his law, or not. We are taught to maintain this dependence upon God by praying to him for our daily bread.
Exodus 16:6. At even, then ye shall know that the Lord, &c.— Notwithstanding all the miracles which God had wrought, these rebellious Israelites still wanted another, to assure them that it was Jehovah, and not Moses and Aaron, who had brought them from the land of Egypt. Strange and incredulous disposition!
Exodus 16:7. Then ye shall see the glory of the Lord— It is said in Exo 16:10 that they looked towards the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud, i.e. Jehovah manifested himself with a particular degree of brightness, and in such a manner, as convinced the Israelites that he was there immediately present. But, as miracles are called the glory of the Lord, Numbers 14:21-22. Joh 2:11 many have supposed, that the expression in this verse refers to the miracle of sending down the manna. This and the following verse will appear clear, if rendered thus, after Houbigant: In the morning ye shall see the glory of Jehovah; for he hath heard your murmurings, which are indeed against Jehovah: for what are we, that you continue to murmur against us? 8. And Moses said, Jehovah will give you flesh in the evening to eat; and in the morning as much bread as is sufficient: because he hath heard your murmurings, which indeed you murmur against Him: for what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against Jehovah.
Exodus 16:10. They looked toward the wilderness, and—the glory of the Lord, &c.— It would seem, from this expression, as if the pillar of cloud was now removed to some distance from them; or perhaps it appeared not when they were stationed, being visible only when it conducted them in their marches: or, if it did constantly appear, the phrase toward the wilderness must here mean toward the front of their army.
REFLECTIONS.—Fresh difficulties produce fresh murmurs. We have here,
1. The despairing impatience of the people for want of bread. Their provision being exhausted, they see nothing but death before them, and charge Moses as the murderer. What! had God so eminently spared their lives, to bring them to their graves in the wilderness? And had Moses any concern at heart but their good? Yet so deaf are they to reason, that they basely wish to be in Egypt again, though they should die there under the plague. Astonishing perverseness! Note; (1.) Discontent usually vilifies what it has, and magnifies what it loses. (2.) It is a great aggravation of our mistrusts, when we have experienced much mercy, and are promised so much greater in store.
2. The displeasure God shews against them. He heard their murmurings, and regarded their complaints against his servants as a charge against himself. Let those who find fault with God's ministers remember, that they but deliver the message, and that to be displeased with them is to fly in the face of their Master.
3. The gracious supply, of which God first informs Moses. Himself, appearing in the cloud to put honour upon his servants, commands him to promise that to-morrow he would give bread for their hosts. God knows our wants, and will not suffer us to be destitute of any manner of thing which is needful for us; though, alas! many pretend to trust God with their souls for heaven, and yet, like Israel, distrust his providing bread for their bodies in the way thither.
Exodus 16:13. Quails— Ludolph has offered several arguments (in his Ethiop. Hist. lib. i. c. 13.) to prove, that the word השׂלו haslau ought to be rendered locusts; which, he thinks, best agrees with the circumstances of the narration. See Numbers 11:21. Parkhurst says, that שׂלו selau signifies a quail; a kind of bird so called from its living remarkably in ease and plenty among the corn. Hence, among the Egyptians, a quail was the emblem of ease and tranquillity; and this bird being generally esteemed a dainty, one would apprehend that it was sent at this time rather than the locust, which, though certainly used for food, does not seem to come up to the idea of flesh, אשׂר asar in Psalms 78:0 and צדה tzedah, which is given us on this occasion, Exodus 16:12. We may remark, that this miracle happened about the middle of April, which is the season when the quails, which are birds of passage, are observed to cross the Red-sea in vast numbers. The same is also observed to this very day by such as frequent those parts. The miracle, therefore, consisted not so much in the prodigious number which fell into the camp of Israel, as in the directing them thither on that very evening, according to GOD's promise and Moses's prediction. In Psa 78:27 it is said, he rained flesh upon them as dust, and feathered fowl as the sand of the sea; expressions which do not seem compatible with the idea of locusts.
Exodus 16:14. When the dew was gone, behold, &c.— Let us just observe, how unnecessary the expletive words are here. Read the passage without them, and you will see its greater propriety.
Exodus 16:15. They said one to another, It is manna, &c.— There is a seeming contradiction in our version: we read, They said, it is manna; and yet, in the next clause, it is added, for they wist not what it was. The rendering in the margin of our Bibles is more just: They said one to another, What is it? הוא מן man hu? quid hoc? what is this? In allusion to which, and to commemorate the universal surprise and doubt respecting this celestial food, they called it by the name of מן man, manna, Exodus 16:31. And in this interpretation all the ancient versions agree. This manna fell with the dew, which being exhaled by the heat of the sun, Exo 16:14 the manna then appeared upon the face of the ground. The sun, as the heat of it increased, melted also the manna, Exodus 16:21. In Numbers 2:9, it is said, the manna fell upon the dew, which might more properly be rendered the manna fell with the dew, עליו alau. (See Noldius, in על, 9.) The Vulgate renders it descendebat pariter et man, and the manna equally descended. As to its size, it is described as a small round thing (a mode of expression which evidently proves what we have before observed, that it was something new to them: something, whereof they knew not either the name or nature. Indeed, Moses expressly asserts that they did not, Deu 8:3 where he calls it manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know). It was as small as the hoar-frost upon the ground: and still further in Exo 16:31 it is said to be like coriander-seed for roundness and size; and for colour, it is said to have been white: or, as in Numbers 11:7, of the colour of bdellium, which, according to Bochart, was a kind of pearl. See Genesis 2:12. Its taste is said to be like wafers made with honey; and, in Num 11:8 as the taste of fresh oil. It is to be observed, that it is spoken of in Numbers as prepared and baked; but here, as it first fell; and therefore the sweetness which it had, when eaten fresh, may be supposed to have evaporated when baked, &c. See Wis 16:20-21 the author of which, following perhaps some Jewish traditions, asserts, that it suited itself to every man's taste; which may be so far true, that, as the Almighty designed it for a general food, so it was in general pleasing, as is the case with bread.
Exodus 16:16. An omer— In Exo 16:36 an omer is said to be the tenth part of an ephah. According to Bishop Cumberland, the ephah contains seven gallons, two quarts, and about half a pint in wine measure; so that an omer was about three quarts, or a little more probably than six pounds weight, Roman measure. This was the smallest measure of things dry, known by the ancient Hebrews. The homer, mentioned Lev 27:16 was a different measure from this.
Exodus 16:18. When they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much, &c.— An omer was the quantity allowed for each person, i.e. each person might, if he chose it, gather and use so much. Those who were aged and infirm, and could not themselves go out to gather it, were allowed the same quantity to be gathered by other persons for them; take ye every man for them which are in his tents, Exodus 16:16. Obedient to the injunctions of God, the children of Israel went out, and gathered, some more, some less; "that is," says Houbigant, "because there were in some tents or families more persons for whom manna was to be gathered, and in others fewer; for thus Moses had commanded, and thus the children of Israel did as they had been commanded, Exodus 16:17. But because, in that first gathering of the manna, the Israelites had not the measure of an omer ready, it happened to them that they guessed for the number of heads; and every one gathered as much as they imagined would be sufficient for each person: but, upon returning to their tents, when each came to use the omer, they found that they had, in fact, gathered so many omers as there were persons in each tent; God admonishing them by this event, that they should afterwards do that which he himself had now perfected by his own immediate agency." Houbigant supposes this applicable only to the first manna which fell. Others, averse to considering the matter as thus miraculous, imagine the fact was, that when the Israelites came to measure out what they had gathered, more or less, they, who had gathered more than their omer, readily imparted their overplus to those who had not gathered so much; and further, possibly, some, who thought an omer too much for their eating, supplied those who required more with what they had to spare. Thus they charitably assisted each other; and this appears to be the meaning of the passage, particularly as applied by St. Paul, 2Co 8:13-15 which, if the passage be understood in the first sense, must imply, that God, by his providential bounty, will bless and assist those who charitably aid their brethren.
Exodus 16:19-20. Moses said, Let no man leave of it, &c.— A striking peculiarity of this bread from heaven is here mentioned, which abundantly proves to us, that it was different from common manna; for this putrifies not: whereas that which God sent for the daily food of the Israelites, if kept till the next morning, bred worms and stank. See Dr. Bentley's 4th Sermon at Boyle's Lectures. Desirous to keep the people dependent upon his providence, the Almighty determined to give them this heavenly food from day to day. Accordingly, as the preservation of it betrayed great want of faith in the preserver, so was it to no purpose; for, as what remained, after the Israelites had gathered their quantity, melted away by the heat of the sun, so, what they preserved, became utterly unserviceable; see note on Exodus 16:4. Another proof, that this was different from the ordinary manna, is, the way in which it was daily dropped down with the dew from heaven: for common manna, as is generally agreed, is a kind of gum which distils from certain trees at a certain season of the year, and is never found in the dew on the ground; nor indeed ever on the ground, except under its own tree. So that, granting there is a species of manna, or honey-dew, found in these parts of Arabia, there is enough in the account of this manna to designate its miraculous and extraordinary nature. See Saurin's 50th Dissert.
REFLECTIONS.—Observe, 1. The manna and quails are sent; not only necessaries, but delicacies. Note; He who gives us appetite for our food, has given our food pleasing qualities to gratify it. We have his provision, not merely to live upon as slaves fed with bread and water, but as children richly to enjoy.
2. They must gather the manna every day; for we must use the means while we are depending on the Divine blessing. As much as they needed, and no more; because we may not abuse God's gifts by needless hoarding or luxurious profusion. None must be left till morning; because we ought every one to trust upon God for daily bread: not that we are forbidden a provident care for our families, but we must avoid anxious distrust.
3. The disobedience of some. They saved it out of covetousness or unbelief, and it bred worms and stank; which justly provoked Moses's anger, though the meekest man upon earth. Note; (1.) Covetousness is God's abhorrence. (2.) A holy jealousy in a minister's heart for the people's souls will vent itself in just displeasure against their sins.
Exodus 16:22. On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread— In Exo 16:5 this order is given; and we have here a further proof of the peculiarity of this manna, of its difference from the common sort, as well as of the immediate interposition of God respecting it. For though, when preserved on ordinary days till the next morning, it bred worms and stank; yet, when laid up for the sabbath-day, no such consequence ensued, but it remained sweet and proper for use. What a striking lesson to the people of Israel!
And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses— There can be no doubt that Moses had informed the children of Israel of that great peculiarity which God notified to him, respecting the double portion of manna to be gathered on the sixth day of the week. The people were attentive to it; and, struck with awful surprise upon finding it to be as Moses had informed them, all the rulers of the congregation came, and, inspired with proper sentiments of gratitude, told Moses, how wonderfully his intelligence was verified: upon which he replies to them, that this is, in truth, what the Lord had said to him; this is that which the Lord hath said, Exodus 16:23. What follows are the words of Moses himself to the people; To-morrow is the rest, &c.
Exodus 16:23. To-morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath— It is amazing to observe to what length an attachment to systems and opinions sometimes carries men. This is evident from the method in which this passage is interpreted by those who have entertained peculiar notions respecting the sabbath. Nothing can be plainer, from this whole chapter, than that the seventh day was now held sacred as a day of holy rest unto the Lord. In order to preserve it sacred, the Lord makes this remarkable disposition concerning the manna; the falling of which is regulated by the known and established law of the sabbath, which is here spoken of as a period perfectly familiar and customary to the people: and indeed there seems no reason to doubt, that the sabbath-day was held sacred by the people of God from its very first institution, when God finished his works of creation, and sanctified the seventh day. And this may very well and truly account for its institution's not being mentioned again by the sacred historian; the observation of it having always continued from the beginning, and therefore the mention of it being as unnecessary as that of any other common and generally allowed principle in religion. They who are inclined to see more on this subject may consult Hallet's Notes on Scripture, vol. 3: p. 100.
Exodus 16:29. See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, &c.— You see that the Lord giveth you rest, Houbigant; who observes, that "rest is more suitable to the context than sabbath: besides, the sabbath is called by the name of the seventh day, not שׁבת shabat, rest. Add to this, that the phrase to give sabbath, or rest, is not of the same import as to command the observation of the sabbath; so that it cannot be argued from this place, that the precept concerning the sabbath was now first given: one would rather say, that the sabbath is so touched upon here, as an institution well and long since known to the Israelites."
Abide ye every man in his place— Still incredulous, the people could not confide in the word of God: some of them went out to gather manna on the sabbath, but they found none; upon which the Lord expostulates with them, (Exo 16:28 compared with Exodus 16:24.) and orders every man to abide, on the seventh day, in his place. The Hebrew is, literally, rest every man with himself. The Vulgate is the same: Maneat unusquisque apud semetipsum. Sit every one in your houses, say the Septuagint. So that the meaning evidently is, let every one rest at home: in the due performance of this holy day of rest, let no one depart from his place; his home, that is, his place of abode; or, at the utmost, the camp, on the sabbath day: and accordingly, it is added, in the next verse, that, agreeably to this injunction, the people rested on the sabbath-day.
Exodus 16:31. It was like coriander-seed— This expression must refer to the size of the manna, not to its colour, for, in Num 11:7 these are plainly distinguished: there it is said, the manna was as coriander-seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium; so that the coriander-seed plainly refers to the size, as the bdellium or pearl does to its colour. In this verse, therefore, three things are predicated of the manna: that its size was like coriander-seed; its colour, white; its taste, like wafers, or little cakes, with honey. The word גד gad, which we translate coriander, is of a very doubtful interpretation. It is generally agreed, that it signifies some small seed; but whether the coriander, or not, is very much questioned.
REFLECTIONS.—1. Before the law was given, the sabbath was observed. This was an institution from the beginning, not peculiar to the Jewish economy, but universally binding.
Note; (1.) No man was ever a loser by a conscientious observance of the Lord's day, while the abuse of it has brought a curse upon many. (2.) The less we have to do on sabbath-days, to divert us from the immediate work and service of God, the better.
2. Some of the people go out on the sabbath, notwithstanding the express direction to the contrary; and God justly resents their perverseness. They are rebuked, and enjoined strict obedience: God will have his day hallowed; they who dishonour it, do it at their peril. Let those who spend these sacred hours in idle company, parties of pleasure, or works of wickedness, remember that God will visit them for these things.
Exodus 16:32. Fill an omer of it, &c.— We have here another peculiarity of this manna, which sufficiently distinguishes it from the common sort, and abundantly testifies its extraordinary nature; for though it stank when preserved to the next morning, except on the sabbath-day, yet here, by the Divine Power, it was preserved from putrefaction through successive generations. Had it been ordinary manna, or that kind of liquid honey which is gathered in those deserts, why need an omer of it have been laid up, that future generations might see the bread, WHEREWITH, says GOD, I have fed you in the wilderness? Nothing can more strongly demonstrate that this food was divine and peculiar; and the appellation of bread is alone sufficient to overthrow the hypothesis of those who fancy it to have been either ordinary manna, or a species of honey; which could neither have been wrought up into cakes, nor have proved nutritive to such a great multitude of people. This also is a clear proof of its miraculous nature, namely, its falling daily in quantities sufficient to sustain so many thousands for so many years; to sustain them in such health, and to agree with them so well: add to which, the double portion that fell on the sixth day, and its ceasing to fall at all on the seventh day; that though it melted with the heat of the sun, it was of so hard a consistence as to be beaten in mortars, ground in mills, to endure the fire, and to be baked in cakes; that it continued with the Israelites during their abode in the wilderness, (see Exodus 16:35.) and then wholly ceased.
Lay all these particulars together, and you will have no doubt that this manna was peculiar and supernatural.
Exodus 16:33-34. Take a pot, &c.— It is probable that this command is mentioned here by way of anticipation, and that the pot of manna was not laid up before the testimony, till after the giving of the law. This pot, in which the manna was deposited, was of gold, (St. Paul tells us, Hebrews 9:4.) as were all the vessels of the sanctuary. There are disputes among the learned about the figure of this vessel. The Lexicons upon the Hebrew word say, that it signifies an urn or pot, with a wide belly, and strait pointed mouth. Reland is of opinion, that it had such a lid or cover as those pots into which they put wine; and like to those by which it is represented on some Samaritan medals, of which he gives a draft in his learned dissertation: he is of opinion, that the vessel had two handles. Before the Lord signifies the same as before the testimony; an expression which we shall have occasion to explain hereafter.
Exodus 16:35. The children of Israel did eat manna forty years— A round number is here, as usual, applied for one which is imperfect. It appears, from Jos 5:11-12 that it was short of forty years by about a month. The manna fell from Friday the fifth of June, in the year of the world 2513, to the second day of the passover, which was on Wednesday the fifth of May, in the year of the world 2553, before Jesus Christ 1447 years, and before the vulgar AEra, 1451 years. Some have supposed, that as Moses lived not to the end of these forty years, these words were added by Ezra; but, as he conducted the Israelites to the frontiers of Canaan, what inconvenience is there in supposing that he inserted these words a little before his death in this place, being in their proper and natural order.
Exodus 16:36. Now an omer, &c.— See note on Exodus 16:16.
Reflections on the manna in the wilderness, considered as a type of Christ.
We have seen how the horrors of the wilderness were considerably abated by the miraculous cloud. But soon their provision, which they brought from Egypt, is exhausted; and unless some new miracle be wrought for them, they have nothing before their eyes but the melancholy prospect of perishing with hunger. The faithless multitude, forgetting their late deliverance at the Red-sea, fall to murmuring against Moses, and wish that they had never stirred from their house of bondage. Had they got what they deserved on this occasion, the Lord had sent fire from heaven upon them instead of food; but God, who is rich in mercy, chore to still the fretful murmurs of his firstborn with the breast, rather than the rod. He bids the heaven supply, by its bounty, what the earth denied by its barrenness; and without their toil or sweat gives them plenty of bread, even in a land which was not sown. "He rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels' food; he sent them meat to the full." (Psalms 78:24-25.) How happy are they who are walking after the Lord, though in a wilderness! It was a convincing proof, that man does not live by bread alone. But God intended, by this good gift, not only to supply their present necessity, but also to prefigure that spiritual meat presented in the Gospel. In this interpretation we cannot possibly be wrong, when we have no less an authority for it than Jesus Christ himself, who, speaking to his hearers on this very subject, says, "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the Bread of God is he who cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the Bread of life." (John 6:32-33; John 6:35.) Having therefore such infallible testimony to the general meaning of this heavenly food, let us endeavour to find out the principal traces of resemblance between it and Jesus Christ. In order to this, we shall briefly attend to the following things:
1. Its falling. "The manna fell from heaven;" Christ is he that comes down from above. It fell "round about their camp;" Christ is, in an especial sense, to be found in the visible church——"With the dew when they slept;" Jesus Christ is purely the gift of God, who descends like dew upon the grass——"When they were in the most absolute need, and ready to perish;" when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly——"When they were grievously sinning, by preferring the flesh-pots of Egypt to the prospects of Canaan;" and Christ laid down his life, when sinners were preferring the pleasures of sin and the vanities of the world to all the things above. Lastly, it fell "in such large quantities" as to "suffice that numerous host;" and in Jesus Christ there is enough to supply our every want.
2. Its being gathered by all the Israelites, may signify the improvement we should all make of the offered Saviour. It was gathered every day; so Christ should be daily improved by faith. It was gathered in the morning; so we must devote the best part of our time to the seeking his face, as it is said, "O God, early will I seek thee." Psalms 63:1. It was gathered without the camp; so must the soul that seeks him retire from the hurry of the world, or, to use the expression of the sacred page, "go out into the fields, and lodge in the villages." (Song of Solomon 7:11.) A double portion of it was gathered on the sixth day; but on the seventh, which was the sabbath, they stirred not from their tents, but lived on what they had laid up the day before: so in the season of this mortal life must we labour for that meat which endures to everlasting life, in the believing improvement of the means of grace; and when the eternal sabbath comes, we shall enjoy the hidden manna without means or any painful endeavours.
3. Its being prepared in mills, mortars, and pans, where it was ground, beaten, and baked, to make it fit for digestion and nourishment, may remind us of the various sufferings of Christ's body and soul. It behoved him, as it were, to be beaten in the mortar of adversity, ground in the mill of vindictive justice, baked as in the oven of the wrath of God, and, at last, to die, that he might prove the bread of life, and that his flesh might be meat indeed.
4. Its tasting so sweet when thus prepared, (for it resembled the fatness of oil, and the sweetness of honey,) and its proving so wholesome and nutritive to all, though of different constitutions;—may it not signify, that Jesus Christ is to the soul both sweet and wholesome food, adapted to the taste of all, of children, young men, and fathers? And as the manna is supposed not to have needed any other ingredients to make it palatable, no more does Jesus Christ, or the doctrine of his Gospel, need any foreign recommendation to the spiritual taste. "O taste and see that the Lord is good," (Psalms 34:8.) says the sweet singer of Israel; and in another place, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste; yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalms 119:103.)
5. Its putrefying, if kept contrary to God's command;—might not this denote, that when the wholesome doctrines of Christ's Gospel are hoarded up in idle speculation, without being received in love, or digested in spiritual nourishment, they are so far from being the savour of life unto life, that they become the savour of death unto death, and breed the worms of various lusts and of a condemning conscience? On which account it may be said, "He that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow." (Ecclesiastes 1:18.)
6. Its being despised by the multitude as light food, by which their soul was dried away, (Numbers 11:4; Numbers 11:35.) in comparison with their rank Egyptian fare, renders it a proper emblem of Jesus Christ, the true bread, who is despised and rejected of men. Though the pure doctrine of Christ is like the manna, angels' food, (for into these things they desire to pry,) yet are there found those to whom the word of the Lord is a reproach, and they have no delight in it. A romance, a philosophical disquisition, a political harangue, is far more grateful than a sermon, whose theme is a crucified Redeemer. What is this, but to prefer the fish, the cucumbers; the melons, and the garlick of Egypt, to the corn of heaven? For their contempt of this celestial food, the Lord sent fiery serpents to plague the murmurers. Nor do the despisers of Jesus Christ expose themselves to less dreadful strokes, though they should not be of a corporal kind: for "all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." (1 Corinthians 10:11.)
7. The preserving it in a golden pot, where, for a number of ages, it was deposited in the most holy place, and remained without corruption;—was it not a representation of Christ's ascension into heaven, where he appears in the presence of God, death having no more dominion over him, and where he will be contained till the time of the restitution of all things? Why else should communion with Christ in glory be spoken of in terms alluding to this very thing? For thus it is promised, in the words which the Spirit saith unto the churches, "To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the hidden manna." (Revelation 2:17.)
8. The continuance of this heavenly bread for the space of forty years, during their abode in the wilderness; does it not clearly intimate, that Jesus Christ will ever remain with his church, while militant here below? Still shall the bread of God descend in the dispensation of the everlasting Gospel, while the necessities of his people call for it; for so he promises, when about to depart from the earth: "Go," said he to his apostles, "teach all nations; and lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:19-20.)
9. The ceasing of the manna upon their tasting the corn of Canaan;—may it not be viewed as a figure of the ceasing of ordinances, when the wandering tribes shall gain their promised rest? Know your mercy, ye distinguished favourites of Heaven! nor envy their happiness who eat the calves out of the stall, and the lambs out of the fold, but are not fed with the heritage of Jacob. Let the sensual voluptuary glut himself with the impure pleasures of sin, which, like the little book that John did eat, are sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly; and to whom we may adapt the significant words in Job, (xx. 14.) "His meat in his bowels is turned: it is the gall of asps within him." Let the rapacious worldling, who is smitten with the dull charms of gold and silver; who is all hurry, hurry, about the business of this transitory life; let him fill his belly with the hidden treasure, which never yet did satisfy a soul immortal. But let the Christian, who knows the gift of God, and the excellency of the heavenly provision; let him labour, not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life. Hungry and starving soul, you ask for bread, and the world gives you a stone; what else are worldly riches? You ask a fish, and the world presents you with a serpent; what else are sinful pleasures? Hearken, therefore, diligently to him who is himself the living bread; "Eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto him; hear, and your soul shall live." (Isaiah 55:2-3.) What is a happy old age to a happy eternity? This, O Jesus, is thy unspeakable gift! He that eats thee by faith, shall live for ever. He that cometh to thee, shall never hunger; and what is more, shall never die. O Lord, deny as what else thou wilt, but give us this bread evermore!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 16". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany