“Take Only Two?” Learning to Accept God’s Work
Moses said, “The LORD has commanded us to save some manna, to be kept for our descendants, so that they can see the food which he gave us to eat in the desert when he brought us out of Egypt.” 33*Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, put two litres of manna in it, and place it in the LORD’s presence to be kept for our descendants.” Exodus 16:32-33 GNT
The union of the Christian with God is the exact opposite of a Promethean exploit, because the Christian is not trying to steal something from God that God does not want him to have. On the contrary, he is striving with his whole heart to fulfil the will of God and lay hands upon that which God created him to receive. And what is that? It is nothing else but a participation in the life, and wisdom, and joy and peace of God Himself. This is greater than any other gift, higher than any other power.
In my reading this morning, I was struck by the detail given in the directions to Aaeon. Only put 2 litres (an omer) of Manna in the jar. It was something I had to go back and think about. Why 2 litres/quarts, Why that sampling amount?
The only thing I could find was that was the amount each person was supposed to collect off the ground each day, for that day’s need. 2 quarts and that was it – collect more and it spoiled quickly. Now think of the Lord’s prayer, where we are asking God not for a month’s supply, not a weeks, but the bread we need for this day. That is what we are to depend on Him for, one days need at a time.
I think this is to form us, to keep our conversation with God going. Not that God won’t provide it all, but asking daily helps us stay in communication with Him, and to realize He is keeping His promises. This is what Merton is getting at as well, our regular communication—and more. The more being a partnership – a fellowship, a sharing in the wisdom, joy and peace of God Himself. It is about walking with God,a nd realizing that is what He’s always done for His people.
The Manna was to help Israel remember God providing for them, caring for them – food, drink, protection, healing, forgiveness. He would provide for each, every day, that is the reminder of the 2 litres. He came to them and made sure they all knew His presence and that they could depend on His care! They could know He would provide, even though they struggled to talk with Him, preferring to use Moses as a buffer zone. They didn’t need this buffer zone, God didn’t want it, but He is patience with us. Even when we don’t understand how He works, even when we get anxious for next Tues, or next year.
The manna reminds us – give us this day…
Still He was there, a pillar of fire at night, the cloud of smoke by day.
He was there, as He is with us…and He gives us reminders of His presence and provision. May we appreciate these things that point us to Him, even as we worship and praise Him, right here where we live.
Thomas Merton, The New Man (London; New York: Burns & Oates, 1976), 34.