I recently spoke with a distressed young woman. Her faith is important.
She had tried to follow what she sincerely believed was God’s direction
for her life. Then when God did not provide as she had expected she
felt disappointed and discouraged. If seemed as if God was absent. It
was as if God had failed her. It is often the case that God moves in
ways we don’t expect. It was that way with the people of Israel as they
moved into the Promised Land.
After journeying forty years in the wilderness the people arrive at the
Jordan River. They cross the river on dry land (chapter 4). God directs
the males to be circumcised (chapter 5). The people celebrate their
first Passover in this the land God has promised (chapter 5). Through
all this they are obedient in following God’s direction. Later in
chapter 6 we read of the conquering of the great city of Jericho.
But in the midst of this epic journey and future victory we read a
small, almost hidden detail. They had celebrated the Passover. The very
next morning, as they wait on the plains of the walled city of Jericho;
as they are prepared for war; they go outside. “There’s no manna.” “The
manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land . . .
(5:12)” For the first “weekday morning” since Exodus 16 there is no
manna. Manna was a staple in their diets and in their lives. But it was
to be no more.
We have the benefit of “knowing the story.” We “expect” the coming
miraculous victory at Jericho and the conquering of the Promised Land.
But these people don’t know that part of the story. They are caught in
the midst of it. “We’re preparing for battle, and now God ceases to
provide the expected, our morning provision.”
I can imagine the questions of these pilgrims. “Are we on our own?”
“Has God abandoned us?” “Have we ‘misread’ God’s plan?” “We’ve been
obedient, what can this mean?” I can imagine that they are discouraged
But I don’t believe that is God’s message to them. No, God ceases the
provision of manna and in so doing affirms that “this is to be your
home!” This is the place to make a new life just as I promised. The
battles haven’t been fought. There are difficult challenges ahead, but
this is your home. God’s message is that the journeying is over. You
are home. This is the land I promised. You are home.
What are we to learn from this passage?
First, in the challenging times God is still “behind the scenes.” He is
no less involved when He blesses the crops and flocks as when “manna
comes from above.” Second, God still provides the supplies. This is the
land of milk and honey. God will provide the resources. Third, God
gives the strength. He will continue to provide, but the people will
also have to work on their own behalf.
I mentioned a young woman above. After a brief time she again found God
“in the midst” of her struggles. He had not forgotten. He had not
abandoned. As she was faithful, God was faithful. She told me that she
knew God would provide. In her words, “People may let you down, God
Sermon brief provided by: Earl Nichols, Garden
Community Church, Bradenton, FL