No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan. (Joshua 5:12 NLT) Few Israelites were old enough to remember the days when they did not eat manna. For the most part, it was the generation that died in the wilderness that had moaned and grumbled, “If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt…. There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death” (Ex 16:3). God had responded to the complaints of His people and provided them in an extraordinary way with manna.
That morning almost forty years ago, someone had noticed that where the dew had evaporated from the ground, there remained a thin white layer of crust. They had never seen anything like it before. One neighbor pointed it out to the next and pretty soon their curiosity got the better of them so they walked toward it to investigate. Someone reached down, broke off a piece and picked it up. It didn’t feel like anything they had ever felt before. They smelled it – it didn’t smell like anything they ever smelled before. Then someone tasted it, and it didn’t taste like anything they’d ever tasted before. And then in one voice they asked Moses, “What is it?” And Moses said, “It is the food that God has promised you.” And every day (except the Sabbath) since then, God had kept His promise and provided the people with manna.
It had been a basic staple of their diet – like rice in much of our world today. i imagine that Hebrew mothers had become quite creative in developing new recipes for the use of manna in their diets. i imagine it was gluten-free; so it would have been very popular today! And it was always available fresh – every day of the year; so storage wasn’t an issue. You actually only needed to store it one day each week over the Sabbath. Otherwise, if you tried to store it, it would rot. And since God had intended that the Israelites not hoard it, i would imagine that He created it in a way that there was nothing worse than rotten manna.
This was now the beginning of their fifth full day on the west side of the Jordan. Last night they had celebrated their Passover meal. This morning the first person walked out from the camp to gather their family’s daily portion of manna – except… it wasn’t there! Imagine the reaction. Gathering manna in the morning had become as much of the daily routine for the Israelites, as that first cup of coffee each day is for most of us. And now you are looking around and it’s not there. It used to be everywhere – and now it is nowhere. Scripture does not tell us that God made an announcement the night before to His people that He would no longer be providing manna starting the next morning. It just says that it no longer appeared. He allowed them to discover that they no longer needed it. The King James Version of Joshua 5:12 reads, “And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land….”
i would imagine that a panic began to set in among the people – particularly those who don’t respond well to change. Then someone went to Joshua and the leaders to ask if they knew what was happening. And i can imagine that someone said, “Do you remember that Moses had us place a sample of manna in the Ark? God had instructed Aaron through Moses, “Get a jar and fill it with two quarts of manna. Then put it in a sacred place before the LORD to preserve it for all future generations.” Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He eventually placed it in the Ark of the Covenant—in front of the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant (Ex 16:33-34). God had told them that the day would come once they had entered into the Promised Land that they would no longer need manna and He wanted them to have a continuing reminder of the His faithfulness to them.
So from that day forward they ate from the crops of the land. Initially they ate the grain left by the Canaanite farmers and they did so until it was exhausted, and then ate from the harvest of their own planting.
There are four principles of God’s provision that are evidenced through the manna. First, God provided just what was needed for as long as it was needed – and no longer. Second, He provided through extraordinary means that which was not available to His children through ordinary means. The manna provided through extraordinary means and the grain provided through ordinary means were both His provision, the only difference was how He chose to meet the need. Third, God did not provide manna based upon the people’s desire for manna, rather in response to their need for it. Fourth, our needs, therefore God’s provision, may be very different throughout our wilderness journey than they are in our land of promise. God in His wisdom knows exactly which is required. That is what Jesus was teaching when He said, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy. May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need…”(Mt 6:7-11).
So what is the “manna” – the provision that you need God to provide through extraordinary means – that you require today? And what is the “grain” – that which He provides and enables you to have through your work and your effort – that you require today? Paul wrote, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). God provides us with both manna and grain. He will be faithful to provide manna when it is needed, but not when there is grain to meet the need. Continue to trust His provision – in the wilderness and in the land of promise. Don’t be surprised if His provision changes or looks different. But trust Him to provide, no matter how He chooses to do so. Just as Moses said to this people just before he left them, “for forty years [GOD] led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out. …He gave you food so you would know that he is the LORD your God” (Deut 29:5-6).
He is the LORD your God! Trust Him to supply the manna – or when that is no longer needed – to supply the grain. Either way, He is faithful!
(Excerpt from “Lessons Learned In The Wilderness — Possessing The Promise”. For more information about the book see http://www.wildernesslessons.com/Possessing_The_Promise.html.)