The Manna in the Wilderness
Ex.16:14-16 - And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
The Spirit led believer has always been in the wilderness here on earth. Everything, and I mean everything, the world thinks and does is at odds with the kingdom of God. But our wilderness is actually Canaan land in the Spirit. We are strangers in this world, but we are saints in the beloved. It is a glorious paradox!
But now the visible, institutional church has become so compromised, so diluted, and so worldly that we are forced to retreat to another wilderness. In the natural it appears as an ecclesiastical wilderness, while in the Spirit it is actually Canaan land once again. In this wilderness do not expect to be respected. Do not expect an abundance of fellowship. Do not expect to be consulted. Do not expect speaking engagements by the scores. But do expect an unusual supply of manna from heaven.
You must extract joy from above. You must build up your most holy faith through much prayer and a robust consumption of God’s Word. You will find His presence in the burning bush and not in the midst of those who have returned to Egypt and there pitched their tents. The tents in Egypt will seem beautiful and alluring, reasonable and charitable, and with all kinds of growth, while the tents pitched beside the burning bush will have no beauty of their own. Their only beauty will be found in the reflection of the fire in that bush. But as in the case of Cain and Able, God will accept the tent of obedience rather than the tent of earthly harvest.
Do not expect to receive your reward here in this world. In fact, expect to be counted irrelevant at best and to be persecuted at worst. Either way, our reward will be found in the lineage of the Levites. Others will receive an earthly harvest while our reward is the Lord. Do not follow the example of Lot’s wife and look back with a longing desire. And when times grow lonely and hard, do not ask to return to the comfort of Egypt. Our reward cannot be seen with human eyes and cannot be measured by success and finances and worldly accoutrements. Ravens of the Spirit will feed your soul. Your esteem will starve but your new man will soar. Eternity must be your life.
But through it all our sustenance is the manna which comes from heaven. And what does the manna represent? The Word of God. And Who IS the Word of God? The Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is our reward in this life and in the life to come. Is He not enough? Has He not done enough? Why would we eat a mixture of manna and leeks and onions and garlic? How can we survive on a diet which comes from freedom and slavery? How can we be nourished by a mixture of death and life? Do not grow weary, my friends, for one day the glory which surpasses all knowledge will be revealed in us.
Ask some of the devoted saints about their previous lives without Christ. Ask the former drug addict if drugs satisfied him. Ask the former alcoholic if drink soothed him. Ask the former hedonist if the pleasures of this world fulfilled him. Ask the former philanderer if the flesh made him whole. Go ahead, ask any devoted saint if he would go back to the pig pen from which he was plucked by God’s grace. I have heard many saints wish they had done more for Christ in their life. But I have never heard an elderly saint lament over his or her faithful service to Christ. Never.
The world’s wilderness is God’s kingdom. It is where those who are pilgrims live and breathe. It is where we meet God, and where God leads us. It is where water is found for parched souls. We will have no popularity in this present life. It will appear as if the entire church is on a great adventure and riding a colossal wave of power and prosperity, but here we stand as stubborn throwbacks to a former time. That is how it will seem in the natural. But if we have ears to ear, we will hear the Spirit speaq words of encouragement, correction, and fresh revelations of the Risen Christ.
Again, do not grow weary in well doing. One moment in His glorious presence should satisfy more than one year in the world. Do not succumb to the Christless, crossless gospel which is no gospel at all. The self help, self elevating, and self prospering message in nothing but a resurrection of the Babylonian whore. The popular church is an adulteress who not only acquiesces to the worldly sirens, but she invites them into her very bed chambers. The western church has committed spiritual fornication and called it knowing God. It is a breathtaking and monstrous betrayal.
But the glory is in the lonely wilderness. The visble church has taken the cross and given to the wilderness dwellers as if it was some doctrinal dross. We humble and gladly embrace it! The new prophets scarcely speak of the cross, but Paul says it is in that very cross where he glories. And so do we. The cross is not some former belief system that was to make way for a fresh and more modern revelation. The cross is the eternal truth of God’s redemptive glory. To diminish it is to blaspheme God Himself.
The wilderness is found on a hill just outside the City of Peace. Eternal life springs up from the well in the very center of this wilderness. The tinsel town of the modern church loudly offers water contaminated by fallen imaginations and earthly dreams, but in reality there is no water. Pageantry and visuals and pulsating music has replaced the powerful banks of the Living Water. But the manna from above does not feed the City of Man. It descends to give life, and life abundantly to those who dwell in the Land of Canaan, otherwise known as the wilderness to all those without.
So be strong all you who dwell in the wilderness, and all you who are refused membership in the modern church of self. Let us continue to warm our hearts by the fire that glows in the bush, and let us feed on the manna from above. That may not be the world’s idea of the American dream, and it may not even appeal to the western church. But in that humble and self denying fellowship there is life and life eternal. And that life is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jn.3:30 - He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
Col.1:13-18 - Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
This entire Christian experience was never about us or our “best life now”. This is about the sufferings and the victory of the Son of God. This is all about lifting up Him and not us. And as the western church moved more and more to a man centered gospel, many of us became outsiders. We watched as Jesus became an ecclesiastical aside and not the core of all we live and teach. The superstars of evangelicalism continue to rob Him of His importance, and they gladly receive the accolades of men, both professing believers and lost sinners.
But here in A.D. 2012, we still must lift Him up. We must make clear to a dark world that He alone is the source of life, and that we are His imperfect conduits. And since our eternity is secure in Him, how can we lust after the fallen and passing things of this world? And if we are to be epistles read of all men, we must make sure they read of Him and not of us. The wilderness? If that is where Jesus is, count me officially content to dwell there. Where He is that is where I pitch my tent. The end of days continues to barrel down upon us. The prophetic will soon be reality. The glory of God will not be found in astounding mansions, or hallowed halls of governments, or great amphitheatres of human entertainment, or even the sprawling complexes of the mega church. The glory of God will be found in obscure and humble camp sites pitched in the shadow of His almighty wings.
Amen and amen.