The heat couldn’t get any worse. Day upon day of trudging through the desert, to what end? It would have been better to stay where we were rather then end up in the middle of nowhere with nothing to eat and not a drop of water to cool our tongues. Even slavery sounds better than this barren land, our barren stomachs, and our aching feet. And so we complain. How are we to receive help otherwise? But our grumbling is heard and an answer is provided. . . . God’s response to the Israelites in the wilderness is the same declaration He is making in our lives as He unveils the essence and secret of the Christian life.
In Exodus 16, the Israelites, recently freed from Egyptian slavery, march into the Sinai peninsula to meet God on the Mount and enter into the Promise Land. I find it fascinating that just moments before (chapter 15) the Red Sea parts, they walk through on dry ground, seeing the armies of the greatest empire of that time destroyed, and receive victory and salvation by the hand of God. Yet barely do the Israelites leave the shores of the Sea before they grumble and murmur about food. This isn’t walking about for forty years and then grumbling; just last week they were slaves in Egypt. They have seen the incredible provision of God as He brought the plagues on Pharaoh, delivered them out from under his hand, and destroyed his life in the Red Sea with his mighty army. Every night the pillar of fire burns before them and every day they see the cloud of God’s Presence. God has saved, provided, and cared for every detail of their lives. He even made bitter waters sweet a couple days ago (Exodus 15.22ff). But still they grumble and desire to go back to Egypt.
So God answers and provides Bread from Heaven. Manna is what they called it (literally changing its name from “Bread from Heaven” to “What is it?”). This wasn’t a single provision but a daily meeting of their needs. For forty years they partake of its substance. But there is a stipulation. They must only take what they need for that day – otherwise it will be filled with worms and stink. However, on the sixth day, in preparation for the Sabbath, they are to take twice as much. Just imagine this. For five days you can only take just enough, otherwise it rots. But on the sixth day, you take twice as much and it lasts for two days. In forty years of gathering, they experience dependency on the highest of levels. They must trust that everyday the Manna will be upon the ground. They gather it in the morning, for when the sun is hot it melts away. They use every ounce of it that day so it won’t be rotten. But then on the sixth day, they gather twice as much, knowing it will last though not sure how it happens. It is a life of dependency.
Throughout Scripture, Egypt is symbolic of sin and the flesh. We too have been released from “Egypt” by the blood of the Lamb. We are no longer bound to the chains of sin and death. We no longer have to give into our flesh and its lusts and desires. We can live in absolute victory and triumph every moment of every day (the essence of the Promise Land). But there is a secret that one must have before embarking on such a life: surrender and dependency. We must be absolutely surrendered to Jesus and our lives must be one of utter dependency upon Him. Like the Israelites of old, we receive “Manna” on a daily basis. No its not food but the provision of God as He brings forth His life in ours.
For example, you are an alcoholic. Every day you go to the bar to drink yourself away. Then one day Jesus grabs your life and frees you from the chains and bondage of “Egypt.” But how are you to live daily in the freedom and victory of Jesus rather than turning back to yourself and Egypt? Dependency. Surrendering everything into His hands and living completely dependent upon Him to bring forth daily freedom and victory. Perhaps you are engrossed in pornography. You desire to be free from its slave master and heavy chains. Sure, you can listen to the popular books, take cold showers, bounce your eyes, and grit your teeth. But what if you would surrender your entire life to Him and live moment by moment in perfect dependency? What if every time the desire to hop online and view something would be met with the declaration that your life is not your own, it is His, and you are living in complete dependency upon Him for your salvation, victory, and triumph in the area of lust? And just as the Israelites had to be dependent upon God every day for the provision of life, so you must be daily dependent upon Jesus for the provision of LIFE, victory over sin, and triumph through ever circumstance.
Dependency is not difficult. We are all dependent upon something. The alcoholic is dependent upon the drink. He doesn’t have to encourage himself to drink or give in to his thirst; he naturally and without effort relies and depends upon alcohol to meet the need. And so it is also true with Jesus. We don’t have to “work up” dependency or strive to rely upon Him during temptation – it should be just as natural to turn and depend on Jesus as the alcoholic turning to his drink.
Are you living moment by moment in unconditional surrender and total dependency on Jesus? That is the essence and secret to the Victorious Christian Life. In fact that is the very basis of Christianity itself; without which you cannot call yourself a Christian. Surrender. Dependency. Manna from heaven.