“After the second veil, the tabernacle which is called Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna…
There were three things inside the Ark of the Covenant. We looked last time at the tables of stone containing the actual Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Sinai. The second thing we find is a golden pot filled with something called manna.
A couple of months into the exodus from Egypt, Gods’ people began to complain that there was nothing to eat in the desert. God heard their complaints and gave them bread each morning. It was a little round thing that was white and like coriander seed that tasted like wafers made with honey. It covered the ground every morning. They could gather all they wanted, but they had to eat it that day—leftovers became worm-infested. This went on for forty years.
When the people first saw it, they asked, “What is this?” Which was translated as “manna”. Moses said it was the bread God gave them.
A pot of this ended up in the Ark as a reminder of their rejection of God’s supply. Gratefulness with contentment is a supreme act of worship and God’s desire for His people. It was so during the exodus and is still the truth today.
There are megachurches across America today that preach another gospel—the gospel of getting ahead in this world. I’ve heard sermons preached telling people that they are God’s special creation (they are) and therefore it is God’s plan that they are prosperous (not the whole truth). They are assured that God’s plan for them is that they get promoted at work, that money is supposed to gravitate to them, and that they may claim whatsoever their heart's desire and God will supply them with it (not true).
Material prosperity is not outside God’s will. That said, neither is it assuredly God’s will. Christianity is an exercise in individualism. God’s will, His timetable, and His plan for any person is a matter between them and God. Turn two chapters over from our text and you will find miraculous rewards given some for their faith and torture, death, and destitution the reward of others. The latter group are the only people in all of scripture to have earned the title “of whom the world was not worthy”.
Whether you are given much or little, God expects you to be content with what you have at every moment. That does not preclude working hard to win a promotion or praying to improve your lot in life. It does preclude complaining about your present state as though God has somehow shorted you of something you deserve.
Can a Christian constantly be reaching for more, and praying for more? Absolutely, with this in mind. When God’s people wanted meat, He gave them quail to eat until it came out their nostrils (the Biblical phrase). At the same time as they were stuffing themselves, God sent leanness into their souls. They got what they wanted immediately and lost something far more valuable for their efforts.
Jesus once taught that upon coming into an assembly, you should not seek out the best seat in the house as though deserving of it, but rather to choose a lesser place and let the host promote you to a seat of honor. It’s a matter of how you approach life.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. Contentment requires an inner humbleness that only comes about by practice. You get ushered into the presence of God in much the same manner you get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice. There are no shortcuts, no talismanic prayers turning God’s word back upon Him, no special status for your lineage or talents—if you cannot be content with God’s present supply, you are not likely to be content with more.
As it turned out, even bread from heaven couldn’t satisfy those with no faith in God. They all died in the wilderness leaving only a pot of manna as a testimony to their rejection of God’s provision.