Saturday, January 7, 2017

No More Manna!

 " And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.  And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." Joshua 5:11-12 

Can you imagine what it was like?

The Israelites had seen all but two men of their parent's generation die.  Moses was gone and they had a new leader.  At this point Joshua, with God's leading, had led the people across the Jordan River on dry land - much like Moses had led their parents across the Red Sea.  The people were told to stand 2000 cubits back from the ark (symbolizing God's presence) so that they could see the mighty work of God as He parted the Jordan for them and then cross over on dry ground. This generation had experienced God's supernatural provision all of their lives.  They had a cloud to lead them by day and a pillar of fire by night. The clothing and shoes they had never wore out even though they were wandering in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5) and they had manna to eat!  

Then one day, after having eaten of the produce of the Promised Land they got up the next morning and there was no manna.  I can't help but wonder, were they scared, did they go looking for manna to gather, did they even realize it was gone?  The Bible doesn't tell us.  But I imagine they went out to gather it out of habit and came running back to camp to tell others that it was gone. Manna was a miracle they had grown used to,  but it was never God's best for them.  God's plan had been for the generation before them to leave Egypt travel to  and overtake the Promised Land, eating the fruit of Canaan.  Manna was good, but it was not the BEST that God had intended for them.  Maybe that is why their parents were not satisfied with the manna and grumbled (in Numbers 11).  It wasn't God's best and because of unbelief they had missed out!  Manna was clearly a picture of God's grace and love for the people - yet it still was not all that He had desired for them.   While they had the manna no territory was claimed, they simply survived. They had just enough manna for each day.

But now God was doing something new.  He had given this generation time to mature and prepare; now the enemy was shaking with fear because of God's work. (Joshua 5:1).  Maybe the manna being gone was a reminder from God that the wilderness journey was over.  They needed to learn a new way of relying on God.  Maybe God was saying "we are starting afresh".  God didn't stop the manna until they were able to eat without it.  They were eating Promised Land produce.  A land flowing with milk and honey - a place of overflow rather than "just enough". When they got to the place of stepping out in trust they were able to receive the new, God's best for them.  Coming out of the manna mentality, they were claiming territory in Jericho. God was using them to defeat the enemy.

To get  to the  place of "no more manna", they had to go through circumcision at Gilgal - a  an intimate, painful cutting away of the unnecessary.  A time to renew their covenant with God and step into healing. It was a time to willingly  allow the reproach of Egypt (slavery, bondage, wandering for 40 years) be rolled away by God. After the circumcision, they were then able to celebrate Passover.  

Passover was a reminder of how they were protected from the plague of the firstborn dying and being delivered from judgement.  A celebration of what God had done for them.   
Then, after Passover, after that remembering, no more manna!

The story goes on to tell us that Joshua had an encounter with the preincarnate  Son of God.  ( His identity disclosed by His accepting worship and the command "Loose your shoes from your feet").  Joshua asked the question, "are you for us or against us?"  The answer given is a little unexpected for The Lord simply answers "neither; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”  Joshua is given an invitation to worship. “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.  THEN he was given battle plans.  What a journey!  

I think I've been asking God for manna when He wants me to look forward to the fruit of the Promised Land. I want to skip the circumcision, the fighting and the overcoming and jump right to the eating of the fruit!  How easy it is for me to lose sight of the fact that He has a plan for my best.  I want to know not only what the next step is but to see the entire map.  It is so easy to fall into complaining!    Instead God wants me to step into circumcision, an intimate cutting away, a time to renew my relationship with Him. Then the reproach of Egypt can be rolled away even BEFORE the battle is fought or victory is won.  God wants me to have a time of delighting in Him, taking off my shoes to worship before the battle plans are given.  A time to worship with a heart of gratitude.  When I'm desperate to know what the next step is, where we will be, what we will be doing,  when I'm wondering if we'll ever get out of the wilderness, instead of looking for manna I want my focus to be on the ark - standing back far enough to see where He is leading and to see His mighty works but near enough to show my trust by stepping into the river, never doubting always following.  I want to walk by faith not by sight.  No more manna mentality, I want the fruit!  I want to shout and bring down the walls!