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The Ceasing of the Manna
There was a deep doctrine in the giving of the manna. There was a doctrine not less deep in its withdrawal.
I. The ceasing of the manna should teach us that there is inevitable loss in all our gains. It was a great thing for Israel to gain the plains of Jericho, but when they had done so, they lost the bread of angels.
We talk sometimes about the gains of our losses, and it is true that we often gain by what we lose. But remember that if we gain by what we lose, it is also true that we lose by what we gain. And he alone is wise and brave and cheerful who recognizes that inevitable law, and presses forward, undaunted, to the best with the courage to forget what is behind. We gain the promised land and lose the manna. We gain experience and lose the morning dew.
II. The ceasing of the manna teaches us to be very cautious in asserting that anything is indispensable. If there was one thing graven upon the heart of Israel it was that without the manna they could not live at all. They had to learn their lesson from that failure that God fulfils Himself in many ways. The manna ceased, but the harvesting began.
III. The ceasing of the manna gave to Israel new views of the presence and providence of God. It taught them to see God in common things, and to realize His presence in the fields. The manna ceased they were cast back on nature to find in nature the same care of God. And so they learned, what is so hard to learn, that providence had a wider reach than once they dreamed, and that the common field may be as full of heaven as the manna which is the bread of angels.
It is not very hard for any man to feel that God is near in the great hours. When there is nothing startling or arresting, what do you make of the providence of God? It is a great thing to see God in the miracle. It is a greater to see Him in the usual.
IV. There is one other lesson which I love to link with the ceasing of the manna. It is how God, as we advance in life, brings us back to the food of long ago. That was the path by which God led His people. He brought them back to the old, and it was new. That is the path by which God leads us all if we are in earnest to know and do His will.
G. H. Morrison, The Wings of the Morning, p. 44.
References. V. 12. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament, p. 143. W. Boyd Carpenter, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. 1897, p. 113.
The Armour of God
I. This ancient book of Joshua, while its simple purpose is to set forth the providence of God in one great episode of a nation's history, is yet by common consent of the succeeding generations of men looked on, not merely as an historical record of the conquest of Canaan, but as a continual allegory of Christian life. Such was the conception of life, based on individual and general experience, in the minds of those who, when the sign of Christ's cross was marked on our brow in baptism, pledged us thereby to a loyal soldiership in an unceasing warfare with evil. Such is the conception thrust upon us by the facts of life, which, as thought deepens and knowledge widens, confronts every son of God. Over against us there stands a man with his sword in his hand, unsheathed, drawn for the using, for offence, for action, for achievement. Over against us there lies a Jordan to be crossed, a Jericho to be assaulted, a Promised Land to be won, only in many an arduous campaign our weapon the sword of the Spirit, our strength the strength of Him Who has girt that sword upon us, Whose abiding Presence in our life is our sole promise and hope of successful soldiership.
Gathering the whole teaching together, who can deny the undoubted call to leave the wilderness of wandering, unpurposeful life, of cold-hearted, listless stagnation, and cross the river of resolve, to the place of effort and the country of combat?
II. A man with a drawn sword a weapon of offence for and with others. True, we need, and have given us, armour of defence as well; a shield of faith to guard us from our own fears and doubts and cares and sorrows, from the evil we see in nature and in man; a helmet of salvation the hope which strengthens the weak-hearted, which guards the place where thought abides, and where plans of battle and of work are formed; a breastplate to protect the heart, where lie the issues of life, the treasures of pure passion, the loves, the sorrows round these we are to bind the armour of righteous habit; and for the loins, where lies the strength of man, woven in and out in knitted muscle and sinew, there is the safeguard of truth the inevitable necessity of sincerity.
III. These for defence. But our motto is not defence, but defiance; and for this there is the sword of the Spirit the Word, the thought of God, all the Divine ideas expressed through the words and lives of men. Let it be drawn, and bright and clean, that so we may wage a continuing and a conquering warfare with evil around and within. Not defence alone, but defiance.
References. V. 13-14. W. H. Simcox, The Cessation of Prophecy, p. 89. V. 13-15. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 795. A. F. Winnington Ingram, Under the Dome, p. 254. C. Stanford, Symbols of Christ, p. 89. S. A. Tipple, Sunday Mornings at Norwood, p. 215. V. 14. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Deuteronomy, Joshua, etc., p. 123. VI. J. McNeill, Regent Square Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 161. VI. 2, 3. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No. 629. VI. 10, 11. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Deuteronomy, Joshua, etc., p. 132. VI. 17. W. H. Hutchings, Sermon-Sketches (2nd Series), p. 183. VI. 10. C. Leach, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl. 1891, p. 262. VI. 25. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Deuteronomy, Joshua, etc., p. 140. VII. 1-12. Ibid., p. 145. VII. 3. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1358. VII. 19, 20. J. T. Bramston, Sermons to Boys, p. 40. VII. 20. J. Vaughan, Sermons Preached in Christ Church, Brighton (7th Series), p. 94. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No. 113.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Joshua 5". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany